JOHANNESBURG – American golfer Paul Peterson birdied four of his last five holes to shoot a bogey-free 9-under 62 Thursday before play was suspended because of a waterlogged course in the first round of the Joburg Open.
Peterson holds a two-shot lead over English players Aaron Rai and Paul Waring. Nearly half of the 210-man field was still out on the course when heavy rain arrived, forcing an early end to play.
Torrential rain soaked the course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club through much of the week, leading to the cancellation of the pro-am on Tuesday.
Peterson, a 28-year-old left-hander from Arizona, birdied four of his first six holes in dry early conditions on the West Course, picked up another shot on the ninth hole, and then had an excellent finish.
"I put a new putter in play this week and it proved to be a good first round with it," said Peterson, whose only European Tour title came at the Czech Masters last year.
Waring also had nine birdies, along with two bogeys, in his 7-under 65 on the East Course. The 21-year-old Rai — playing only the third European Tour event of his career — had seven birdies and no dropped shots on the same course.
The East Course will be used for the full field after the cut.
South African players have won seven of the 10 editions of the tournament. Jbe Kruger is the best-placed South African after a 65 on the West Course.
There are three qualifying spots for the British Open available at the Joburg Open. Kruger is one of only three players in the field already exempt for the major at Royal Birkdale.