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Nicolas Colsaerts four clear after record round
January 20, 2012

Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts peppered the flags at the Fancourt Links to fire a course-record 64 and streak four shots clear of the field after the Volvo Golf Champions first round on Thursday.

While Colsaerts was producing his nine-under-par effort, U.S. Masters champion Charl Schwartzel struggled to a 75 and triple major winner Ernie Els returned a 71.

“Today was as easy as you’re going to find it,” South African Els told reporters at the 35-man tournament that brings together last season’s European Tour winners.

“This course has got a lot of teeth and it has not shown it yet. When the wind comes up it makes a huge difference and this course becomes a totally different animal.”

Colsaerts made full use of the conditions as he opened a four-shot lead over last week’s Joburg Open winner Branden Grace and his fellow South African Thomas Aiken and Briton Tom Lewis.

The Belgian, who registered his first European Tour win by landing the China Open title in April, birdied all four par-threes as he eclipsed the previous record of 67 set by Patrick O’Brien at the 2006 South African Open.

“I’ve never birdied all the par-threes on a course before and you don’t see that on a scorecard that often,” said Colsaerts.

The 29-year-old had four successive birdies around the turn and then closed with four birdies in a row to come home in 30 shots.

“To have the record here is quite a thing, it being the number one course in South Africa,” said Colsaerts.

“I just seemed to hole out all day, every birdie was from close range and I took every chance from six to eight feet. I was hitting my irons very close and, after you’ve done that three or four times, you just keep firing at the pins.”

Triple major winner Padraig Harrington and former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen were among four players on 69 while former Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie carded a 70.

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