De Jager leads SA charge in Canary Islands Open

Louis de Jager opened the third tournament of a three-week European Tour swing on the Canary Islands with a six-under-par 65 on Thursday in the first round of the Canary Islands Championship at Golf Costa Adeje, Tenerife.

He made seven birdies and a bogey to take up a share of sixth place, together with Justin Harding and eight other players, including Wales’ Rhys Enoch, who is a former Cape Town Open champion, who won the first Sunshine Tour tournament of the season, the Kit Kat Group Pro-Am.

The tournament lead was held at nine-under by Italy’s Francesco Laporta, a former Sunshine Tour member. He leads by one from Spain’s Scott Fernandez, with another two Spaniards, Alfredo Garcia-Heredo and Adri Arnaus, sharing third with France’s Joel Stalter.

De Jager used his solid play off the tee to his advantage, hitting two-thirds of the fairways with an average drive distance of over 317 yards. That gave him birdies on four of the five par-fives on the course, and he also hit over 83 percent of the greens in regulation as he made two birdies on par-fours and one on the par-threes.

Harding also had seven birdies and a bogey in his 65, as South Africans go in search of a clean sweep of the titles on offer on the Canary Islands – Garrick Higgo won the Gran Canaria Lopesan Open and Dean Burmester the Tenerife Open.

Higgo opened with a five-under 66 for a share of 16th together with Zander Lombard, while Burmester carded a first-round three-under 68.

Haydn Porteous was two-under, while Justin Walters was at one-over.

Laporta was a picture of consistency last week at Golf Costa Adeje as he went 68-67-67-71, but he showed he had truly found his feet in the final event of the Canary Islands Swing, posting a 62, the lowest round of his European Tour career, to get to nine under.

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