Reviewing a busy Thursday around the world of golf, with Scottish players going well in Mauritius while Paul Casey enjoyed an encouraging start Down Under …
Forrest in five-way tie at the top
Grant Forrest fired an opening 66 to get into a five-man share of the lead after the first round of the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open at the Heritage Golf Club.
The Scot got off to a hot start on the 10th as he holed from 50 feet for his first of three straight birdies and, after he gave a shot back at the 13th, he provided the ideal response with an eagle at the long 15th.
Forrest went on to make three more birdies while dropping one further shot on the front nine as he closed on six under par alongside Brandon Stone, Rasmus Hojgaard and French pair Benjamin Hebert and Romain Langasque.
“The game is getting there,” said Forrest, who posted a top seven finish in Mauritius last year. “We’ve done a lot of work over the past few months and it’s been a bit of a struggle on the golf course but we’re starting to see signs now.
“I had a great start to the tournament last week as well. It’s been encouraging the last little while and things are falling into place for the coming season.”
Pre-tournament favourite Christiaan Bezuidenhout carded a solid six-birdie 67 to finish the day a shot off the pace along with eight other players, while Forrest’s compatriots Connor Syme, David Law and Calum Hill head into the second round on four under par.
Casey shines amid the smoke
Paul Casey fired a three-under 68 to sit three shots off the lead at the Emirates Australian Open in Sydney, where players had to contend with smoke shrouding the course from nearby bush fires.
Asian amateurs Takumi Kanaya (Japan) and Chun An Yu (Taiwan) led the way on six under par, with 2015 champion Matt Jones leading the chasing pack two shots behind along with his fellow Aussies Daniel Nisbet and Dimitrios Papadatos.
Casey was one of 15 players to return a 68, a group which also includes 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, the star pair being two of only seven players exempt for The 149th Open next year in an event offering three places in the field for Royal St Georges via The Open Qualifying Series.
But much of the talk on the opening day centered on the difficult conditions, with Casey admitting his vision was affected by the smoke drifting across The Australian Golf Club throughout his round.
“I must admit my eyes are stinging,” said Casey, who came within a couple of inches of making an albatross at the long 14th after a stunning second. “I’m not going to complain because there’s people in a lot worse position than me. It makes it tricky but overcoming the elements is part of golf.”
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Home favourite Adam Scott struggled to a 75 and said: “The smoke got pretty thick for a while, so it’s not great. It feels like I should shove a bit of salt water up my nose or something and try and rinse myself out. Obviously not the conditions we want to be playing in. You kind of hope for rain.”
Henseleit in the hunt in Kenya
Esther Henseleit made a good start to her bid to snatch the Ladies European Tour’s Order of Merit title away from current leader Marianne Skarpnord after the first round of the Magical Kenya Ladies Open.
The 20-year-old German is the only player in the field who can surpass Skarpnord in the season-ending event at Vipingo Ridge, although she will need a victory to deny the Norwegian.