Thriston Lawrence cooks in Joburg heat to lead at Houghton

The four-time DP World Tour winner registered a course record 62 in his opening round.

Just days after finishing tied fifth in the DP World Tour final in Dubai last Sunday, South Africa’s Thriston Lawrence continued his good form with a scintillating course record first round of 62, eight-under-par, at the 2023 Joburg Open at Houghton on Thursday.

The tournament is the opener for the 2024 DP World Tour season and is co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Tour.

Lawrence showed from the off in uncomfortably hot conditions on Thursday afternoon he will be the man to beat this week after shooting an impressive 30 on his front nine. He made birdies at the first hole and then third, fourth, fifth and sixth holes and backed that up with three more birdies on his back nine, at the 13th, 14th and 18th.

Lawrence made his breakthrough on the DP World Tour when he won the rain-hit 2021 Joburg Open. He went on to win three more times on the tour after that victory — the European Masters, the SA Open and the BMW International Open.

Nikhil Rama in second

The 26-year-old was accurate off the tee and like in last week’s showing in Dubai he was dead-eye with his putter.

The next best South African after the first round was 22-year-old Nikhil Rama, who went out early on Thursday and led for much of the day after recording a 65, five-under-par.

He’ll tee off on Friday as the sole player in second place, three shots off Lawrence’s lead. He also received a special invitation on Wednesday to tee it up at next week’s SA Open at Blair Atholl.

Starting on the 10th hole, Rama registered five birdies on his first nine holes for a score of 30 and then came home in 35 shots after making two birdies but also two bogeys.

Five other South Africans are in a big grouping at four-under-par after going round the parkland course in 66 blows, namely Zander Lombard, Jacques Kruyswijk, Jaden Schaper, Jaco Prinsloo and Darren Fichardt.

Last year’s surprise winner, England’s Dan Bradbury, was also at four-under-par after his opening round, continuing the good form he has shown worldwide since winning at Houghton for his breakthrough victory.

Andy Sullivan, also from England and also a former winner of the Joburg Open, was also at four-under-par.