Erlandsson leads in South Africa

One of the best shots of his life helped Swede Martin Erlandsson to an eight-under-par 64 and a one-stroke lead on the opening day of the South African Open.

In addition to six birdies, Erlandsson, seeking his first European Tour win in more than 170 attempts, hit a three-wood to three feet on the 530-yard fifth at Pearl Valley.

The 35-year-old from Malmo stated afterwards that it was one of those strokes where you just say: "Wow, what happened?"

Erlandsson looked as if he might grab his maiden victory in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in August.

Ten birdies in a closing 62 swept him from six behind to two in front, but compatriot Peter Hedblom was still out on the course and hit back to win by one.

Only a week ago Erlandsson began the new Tour season by playing his first nine holes at the Alfred Dunhill Championship in a nightmare 46, but this time he came home in a superb 30.

Sunday's winner Pablo Martin produced a brilliant finish too to share second place with South African Dawie Van der Walt on 65.

Martin, the only player to win Tour titles as an amateur and a professional, was only two under with six to go, but birdied the 13th, 16th and 17th and then eagled the 601-yard last.

Van der Walt also had two eagles, following a three on the fifth with a pitch into the hole for a two at the 386-yard 10th.

Denmark's Anders Hansen, third at the weekend and clear leader of the Sunshine Tour money list with only this week to go, had an eagle and seven birdies, but also three bogeys for a 66 and fourth place.

Scotland's Richie Ramsay had a chance to outshine all of them when he covered the back nine first in a six-birdie 30, but in the end he had to settle for a 67.

Italian Edoardo Molinari, South African Charl Schwartzel and England's Ross McGowan are all trying to climb into the world's top 50 just in time to earn a place in the Masters at Augusta in April.

World Cup winner Molinari needs a top-eight finish and ended the day on four under, but the other two have to be first or second and crashed to five-over-par 77s.

McGowan, returning to action a month after being runner-up to Lee Westwood at the Dubai World Championship, was actually three-under after six, but then had two triple bogeys and a double bogey.

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