Johannesburg, South Africa (SportsNetwork.com) - Nic Henning fired a course- record tying, 9-under 62 on Thursday to grab the lead after one round of the Joburg Open.
Henning, a four-time winner on the Sunshine Tour, matched the course record on the West Course at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club. Desvonde Botes set the original mark in 2007.
Play in the first two rounds is split over the East and West Courses at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club. The East Course will host the final two rounds.
South Africans Tjaart van der Walt and Titch Moore both carded 8-under 63s. They were joined in second place by Thomas Pieters, who also played the West Course in round one.
Garth Mulroy, Jason Scrivener and Dean Burmester share fifth place at minus-7. They all played the West Course on Thursday.
Wallie Coetsee and Sam Hutsby both carded 6-under 66s on the East Course. They were joined at minus-6 by Simon Dyson, Andrew Curlewis, Jorge Campillo, Byeong Hun An, Scott Henry and Joachim B. Hansen, who all played the West Course in round one.
Henning, who was in the next-to-last group out, got off to a quick start with birdies at the first and second. He jumped to 4-under as he holed out for eagle on the par-4 third.
The South African birdied the par-3 fifth to move to minus-5. After a pair of pars, he climbed within one of the lead with birdies at the eighth and ninth.
"It was fantastic. I haven't shot 29 for a couple of years, and I was a bit nervous coming down the last hole," Henning admitted. "On the last hole of the front stretch, I told myself that I had to make birdie and eventually I did that."
Around the turn, Henning parred the first five holes to remain one off the lead. Back-to-back birdies at 15 and 16 pushed Henning into the lead at minus-9. He parred the final two holes to match Botes' course record and end one clear of the field.
"It's been a long time since I shot 62. I'll try to do the same thing as I did today, just try to stay calm," said Henning. "I'll try to hit fairways and put myself in a good position. It's about staying in the moment and taking every shot as it is."
Van der Walt also got off to a fast start with birdies at one and two. However, he gave one stroke back as he bogeyed the third. After three straight pars, van der Walt flew up the leaderboard as he birdied seven of nine holes from the seventh to gain a share of the lead.
Another birdie at the par-4 17th gave van der Walt the lead, but he tripped to a bogey at the last to post 8-under.
Moore birdied three of the first four holes, then jumped to 5-under through five as he carded a hole-in-one on the par-3 fifth. He later birdied the ninth, 15th and 17th to gain a share of the lead.
Pieters carded back-to-back birdies three times in his round. He did so from the first, fifth and ninth. The Belgian carded the seventh birdie of his round at the 12th.
At the par-5 15th, Pieters made eagle from 20 feet out to jump into the lead at minus-9. He wrapped bogeys at the 16th and 18th around a birdie on the 17th.
"It was a good day and a good start. It's very possible to go low on the East. The par-5s are very reachable for me, so I'm going to take advantage of those," said Pieters. "This season, I gave myself a great chance in Abu Dhabi. I also had a top-10 at Leopard Creek, but I wasn't really in contention. In the Middle East, I played well, but had one bad round in there. If I can play four solid rounds then hopefully a win will come soon."
NOTES: Henning owns the first-round lead for the first time on the European Tour ... Defending champion George Coetzee carded a 5-under 66 and is tied for 16th ... Newly named European Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke opened with an even-par 72 on the East Course and he is tied for 114th.