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Keena Davidse takes charge at Joburg Open

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Keena Davidse of South Africa rose from his sick bed to shoot a superb eight-under-par 63 and seize the first round lead at the Joburg Open on Thursday.

The 28-year-old fell ill before the event and was hospitalised for four days. He showed no signs of sickness when he fired nine birdies against one bogey at the Randpark Golf Club, par-71 Bushwillow course. 

He held a one-shot lead over South Africa’s Jared Harvey, Erik van Rooyen, Ockie Strydom, England’s Matthew Baldwin, James Morrison and Sebastian Heisele of Germany, who all played at Bushwillow.

Davidse shared, "I don’t know what to say (laughs). It’s not like I’m shocked. I’m obviously very happy, pleased obviously. I’ve worked very hard. I went to Mauritius last week and didn’t play too well. I was in hospital for about four days. So I’m very chuffed today.

"When I played the Sunshine Tour event at Simola, my little boy was sick with a bad chest. Then my wife had flu, and then I got flu, and lost a lot of weight. I couldn’t deal with that and the heat in Mauritius so I checked myself into hospital for four days.

"I didn’t really have any expectations coming into the week. I’m just out here to have fun, obviously, so I’m very blessed to be playing well.

"Some people say Bushwillow is easy – and I have just shot 63 – but to be fair, it’s not easy. You can’t say any golf course is easy. You’ve still got to hit the ball. The flags were pretty good. The rough’s not as up as it is on Firethorn, but it’s a good test. You’ve still got to hit your ball in the right areas and then you have to make the putts.

"I don’t have a preference for the courses. Firethorn is just another course. If you play what’s in front of you, you’re going to play well, but if you play fearing the tournament, you’re going to play badly. I’ve experienced that a few times. I’m not here to paint pictures. I’m here to write down numbers. I got a good number down today and I’m just going to take it day by day."

Asian Tour member Scott Barr of Australia was a further shot back in tied eighth place at the event which is the first tri-sanctioned tournament by the Asian Tour, Sunshine Tour and European Tour in South Africa.

Phachara Khongwatmai of Thailand, Shubhankar Sharma of India, Masahiro Kawamura of Japan and Jinho Choi of Korea, who played at the par-72 Firestone, were the best placed Asians in 38th place on matching 69s.

Gavin Green of Malaysia, the Order of Merit leader, returned with a 70 to lie in tied 60th place in the 240-man field.

Searching for a first career first win, Davidse turned in 32 before firing five birdies on his homeward nine to hold a slight edge over the chasing pack at the R16.5 million (approximately US$1.2 million) event.