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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 July, 2003, 21:05 GMT 22:05 UK
Otto surprise Open leader
Hennie Otto
South Africa's Hennie Otto fired an impressive 68 to lead the 132nd Open Championship after the first round at Royal St George's.

Otto finished one shot ahead of American Davis Love and Australia's Greg Norman, the winner the last time the tournament was played at Sandwich in 1993.

On a difficult day, the trio were the only players to go round with scores in the 60s as world number one Tiger Woods and defending champion Ernie Els both struggled.

Woods carded a 73 for two-over-par, while Els shot a lacklustre seven-over 78.

Woods began disastrously with a triple-bogey seven via a lost ball at the first before recovering to keep himself in contention.

But there was misery of a different kind for Scotland's Colin Montgomerie, who pulled out after seven holes with an injured hand sustained in a fall before his round.

In fourth were Korea's SK Ho and Sweden's Fredrik Jacobson, who both shot 71, the only other players under par.

I was feeling really comfortable out there
Hennie Otto

One shot further back was a group of eight players including five-time Open champion Tom Watson.

Otto, who won the qualifying event at North Foreland, was off in the first group in calm but wet conditions at 0631BST.

The 27-year-old, playing in his first Open, safely parred the first before setting off on a streak of five birdies around the turn.

A bogey five at the last marred his efforts but he watched from the clubhouse as the wind got up and made scoring increasingly difficult.

"I was feeling really comfortable out there," said Otto, who was out of action for four months following back surgery last year.

"For the last couple of weeks I've been working with (coach) Pete Cowen and trying to get my game back on standards and I've been playing really well and putting well."

Of the other Europeans, 1985 champion Sandy Lyle and Ian Woosnam were two over, Bernhard Langer was three over, Padraig Harrington and Darren Clarke finished four over and Nick Faldo and Lee Westwood were five over.

Young English guns Justin Rose and Paul Casey found the going even more difficult with rounds of 79 and 85 respectively.

Six players were unable to finish their first rounds because of bad light.

Play was halted at 2110BST with Scotland's Andrew Oldcorn the best of the six at one over par with one to play.

They will resume at 0830BST on Friday.





Links to more The Open 2003 stories


 

WATCH AND LISTEN
South African Hennie Otto:
"It's really tough out there"


Colin Montgomerie
"If it wasn't the Open I wouldn't have played at all"



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