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Clark, Madsen share Nelson Mandela Championship lead
Durban, South Africa (Sports Network) - Tim Clark and Morten Orum Madsen opened with matching 5-under 60s on Saturday and they share the lead after the first round of the weather-delayed Nelson Mandela Championship.
Heavy rain this week pushed the start of the tournament back two days, and with an overly saturated course, officials had to adjust several holes. With the first two days washed out, the event has been cut to 36 holes.
Three holes at Royal Durban switched from par-4s to par-3s, while the par-5 14th was also changed to a par-3. With those changes, the par shifted from 70 to 65.
Lindani Ndwandwe and Chris Lloyd share third place at minus-4, while Frenchman Julien Quesne headlines a group of 10 players tied at 3-under 62.
Pablo Larrazabal, one of four players in the field ranked in the top 100 in the world, is part of a large group at minus-2.
Clark, who has fallen to No. 100 in the world while battling injuries the last few years, played the back nine first on Saturday. After a trio of pars, he poured in three straight birdie chances to jump up the leaderboard.
The South African ran off four pars in a row from the 16th. He birdied the second to move to 4-under.
Clark faltered to a bogey at the par-4 sixth, but closed the round in style as he birdied the final two holes to post minus-5.
"It wasn't that easy out there, but I was amazed at how good the greens were with all the rain they had. The greens were pretty firm and obviously great to putt," said Clark. "I made some good putts and that's really what gives me this score. Obviously, I gave myself a lot of chances."
Madsen also started on the back nine and he got going with a 10-foot birdie putt at the 10th. He moved up the leaderboard with birdies at 13 and 15. He also birdied the 18th from eight feet out to get within one of the lead.
Around the turn, the Dane stumbled to bogeys at one and four to dip three off the pace. He got one stroke back with a birdie from off the green on the par-3 fifth.
Madsen, like Clark, birdied the eighth and ninth to grab a share of the lead.
"It was fun. We've had a long wait to get started, but it was nice to finally get out there and hit some shots again," Madsen stated. "I chipped in twice, and that's sometimes what you've got to do to have the good rounds, you have to be a little fortunate."
NOTES: Clark has won three times on the European Tour, while Madsen is a rookie on tour ... Branden Grace, a 4-time winner last year on the European Tour, is the highest ranked player in the field at No. 36. He opened with a 1- over 66 and is tied for 68th ... Forty-six players broke par on the shortened, but water logged course.
12/08 12:48:57 ET