Affleck leads in Sao Paulo

Paul Affleck of Wales leads after the first round in Sao Paulo, Brazil

Affleck leads in Sao Paulo

Paul Affleck of Wales fired a five under par 66 to take the lead in the first round of the Brazil São Paulo 500 years Open at São Paulo Golf Club – then made a mental note not to repeat his unhappy experience in South Africa earlier this season.

The 33 year old was disqualified for failing to sign his scorecard in the final round of the South African Open in Johannesburg in January. It happened after he had made his first cut since the Volvo Scandinavian Masters last August, and it is a salutary lesson he has no intention of repeating.

After shooting his five-birdie, bogey-free round, Affleck recalled: “The DQ was unfortunate but one thing is for sure – I won’t do it again!”

In the past, that unhappy episode might have prompted Affleck to bemoan his bad fortune. Not any more. The Welshman has been working hard on his mental approach, with the long-time help of psychologist, Alan Fine, and the effort is paying off.

He said: “I feel mental errors have cost me in the past so it’s a case of eliminating them as best I can. Even though I was disqualified in South Africa, I tried to take the positives from that week – the fact that I had made my first cut for a long time and had played pretty well. Yes, it cost me a couple of grand, but I felt positive about it.

“We are all perfectionists out here on Tour and that drives you on, but sometimes you don’t let yourself appreciate the good things. That’s what I am trying to do. My ambition this year is to win a tournament – I’ve been promising my wife, Norma, for seven years that I would win one so that’s my aim.”

Affleck, who holed two putts of 20 feet and three from 15, leads by a single stroke from five players on 67, including another Welshman, last year’s Compaq European Grand Prix winner, David Park.

Park admitted: “I have been pleased with what I’ve achieved so far this year, but I haven’t finished off well enough at the weekends. That is my main complaint.”

On the same score are two Brazilians, Jose Aderbal and Ruberiel Felizardo from the São Paulo area, and Spaniard Tomas Muñoz and a pair of Swedes in Per Nyman and Richard Johnson.

Frenchman Fabrice Tarnaud produced the first albatross of the 2000 season when he holed out for a two with a five wood second shot from 213 metres at the 17th hole.

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