Johannes Veerman of the USA acknowledges the crowd on the 18th green during Day 1 of the South African Open at Randpark Golf Club on January 09, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Picture: WARREN LITTLE / GETTY IMAGES
Johannes Veerman of the USA acknowledges the crowd on the 18th green during Day 1 of the South African Open at Randpark Golf Club on January 09, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Picture: WARREN LITTLE / GETTY IMAGES

American Johannes Veerman birdied nine holes in an error-free round of 62 to take a one-shot lead after a low-scoring first day of the European Tour’s SA Open at Randpark Golf Club on Thursday.

The 27-year-old from Texas continued his bright start to his debut season on the European Tour, as he came home in a blistering finish with four birdies in his last four holes to take an early clubhouse lead.

Veerman is one shot ahead of Italian Nino Bertasio, who held the joint lead after an eagle at the 17th but dropped a shot on the final hole, and South African JC Ritchie.

Sam Horsfield of England and the home trio of Brandon Grace, Toto Thimba and Rourke van der Spuy are part of a group of six players a further shot back after shooting 64.

Van der Spuy eagled the 18th, preceded by three straight birdies, as he also finished strongly.

Defending champion Louis Oosthuizen, who began his run to 2019’s title with a first round of 62, was in a group of 11 players on 65. The group included Rasmus Hojgaard of Denmark, who has already won on this season’s tour when he triumphed in the Mauritius Open in December.

About 240 players are competing over two courses in the championship, which was first played in 1903.

Reuters