Eagle has Goosen flying high

Australian Robert Allenby took the lead, but local favourite Retief Goosen was the one with something to celebrate in the opening round of the Nedbank Challenge at Sun City in South Africa today.

Goosen won a Volvo for an eagle two at the 480-yard 17th and reacted by throwing the ball out into the lake and hitting what, by then, was his car.

The double US Open champion finished with a three-under-par 69 to be alongside compatriot Tim Clark and only one behind pacesetter Allenby.

Choosing to play in the 12-man event rather than the Australian Open, Allenby began his bid for the £720,000 (€790,000) first prize with the only bogey-free performance of the day.

Three of his birdies came on par fives and the other was on the 493-yard fifth.

Goosen was alongside him with five to play, but strayed into the bush for a bogey six on the long 14th and double bogey at the 474-yard next.

Playing partner Robert Karlsson also reached four under, but in stark contrast double-bogeyed the 17th and dropped back alongside compatriot and defending champion Henrik Stenson and American Hunter Mahan.

Rory McIlroy appeared out of sorts from the start and was reported to have been put on a drip during a two-hour thunderstorm suspension.

Ireland’s world number 10 returned to birdie the final two holes, but a one over 73 left the 20-year-old bringing up the rear with England’s Ross Fisher and American Nick Watney.

Luke Donald was one better than that thanks to a closing birdie which continued his recovery from a double-bogey seven at the second and bogey on the next.

Even the player who finishes last walks away with £120,000 (€131,000), but with nobody more than five behind everything is still up for grabs for the entire field.

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