Otto recovers from breaking clubs

Hennie Otto bounces back after breaking his clubs two weeks ago to hold the lead in South Africa

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Martin Park
Thu, 25 Jan 2001
Otto recovers from breaking clubs

It appears that a temper tantrum two weeks ago has helped Hennie Otto to rediscover his form as he swept to a new course record at the Mercedes Benz South African Open in East London Golf Club today with a first round 65.

Otto, who snapped all of his clubs in a fit of temper during the South African Masters after a second round of 80 two weeks ago, leads former Ryder Cup star Ignacio Garrido by one shot on 7-under par.

With a brand spanking new set of sticks, Otto negotiated the course with six birdies, one eagle and a bogey for his 65, a new course record.

“The course played fairly easy today,” Said Otto. “There was no wind and the rain also stopped early on in my round, so it was a good day to score low. It is still tight and if you don’t hit the fairways you have almost no chance of reaching the green.”

Englishman Greg Owen from Mansfield and Switzerland’s Paolo Quirici sit one shot further behind after their respective 67’s.

Owen, who has been suffering with a niggling back pains recently, enlisted the help of a copy of the yellow pages to help him with a “short” right leg. After a series of X-rays, he discovered that his left leg was 7mm shorter than his right leg and with a few pages of the business directory inserted into this shoe for the final two rounds last week, the 28-year-old continued to play and noticed the difference straightaway!

oops, 77 to start the season

This week, the Yellow pages have been swapped for a foam insert and Owen is reaping the rewards with his second week in contention in search of his first European Tour win.

"It explains a lot about some of my swing faults and I felt the benefit straight away. It feels like I'm hitting it further because I'm getting more turn on the backswing and hopefully this is the start of a pain-free career.

“I used to wake up with pain every day but thought it was just hereditary because my dad has a bad back and it was something I was going to have to put up with."

Garrido, playing the course starting from the tenth hole, carded his best round for some time to get back to his glory days when he made the 1997 Ryder Cup side.

The Spaniard fired an impressive 66 around the tight hilly fairways of East London with birdies at the 11th, 12th and 15th. And with a steady back nine which included an eagle three at the third followed by birdies at the sixth and seventh holes, Garrido topped the course record for a few minutes until Otto superseded him.

Justin Rose, second last week in the Alfred Dunhill Championship carded a first round level par 72 and was looking all the world that he would repeat last weeks success. But dropping two shots on his homeward nine when he was 2-under par, returned the Hampshire youngster back to level par for the day.

Bad news for Irishman Darren Clarke in his return to the European Tour scene as he collapsed to an opening 77, 5-over par. The Ulsterman and European number two looked decidedly “Ring rusty” as he ran up a triple bogey at the par five third hole and a double bogey and will struggle to make the cut.

"I didn't play that badly but I just got punished for a couple of wayward shots. It's disappointing after being two under and it could have been four or five - but at least I birdied the last!" Said the burly Ulsterman.