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Ken Borland

Invitee Bradbury leads after fairytale first round that showed his own brilliance in seizing whatever opportunities he gets

Posted on February 28, 2023 by Ken

Dan Bradbury has career earnings of just €32 537.50 and no playing status on the DP World Tour, but he is in the Joburg Open owing to a sponsor’s invitation, and on top of the leaderboard after a fairytale first round because of his own brilliance in seizing whatever opportunities he gets.

The 23-year-old Bradbury fired a superb eight-under-par 63 to take the lead after a weather-disrupted opening day at the Houghton Golf Club, leading Germany’s Nick Bachem by one stroke. Two Frenchmen are on six-under-par, Romain Langasque having completed his round and Clement Berardo having gone through 11 holes when play was suspended due to lightning at 5.11pm and then called off an hour later.

Bradbury, from Wakefield in Yorkshire, England, turned pro in July after five successful years as an amateur on the U.S. Collegiate system, playing for the Lincoln Memorial and Florida State university teams. He made three promising Challenge Tour appearances, but then three-putted his final hole of DP World Tour Qualifying School to miss advancing from the First Stage by one stroke.

Bradbury has played in a DP World Tour event before as a late replacement, making the most of an 11th-hour invite to the Open de Espana last month and finishing tied-13th. Not even the expensive flight could stop him from taking up another last-ditch call to compete in the Joburg Open, and he made the most of his chance on Thursday.

“I was given a spot on Friday night, flew out here on the weekend with my mum Sandra, just to see what we can do,” Bradbury said after his stellar round, which included seven birdies and two eagles, as well as a double-bogey and a dropped shot on his last hole, the par-three ninth.

“It was lovely to have my mother walk the fairways with me, it was as good a start as I could have wished for, but it’s the end of the week that is most important.

“It’s up there with my best days in my career, but I had some pretty special ones too during my American college days. I’ve still got work to do though,” the genial Bradbury said.

Thunderstorms always seem to come into play on the highveld in summer and Bradbury felt his momentum was disrupted by an earlier delay in mid-afternoon.

“I got some momentum going on my back nine, but the thunderstorm stopped that. It made me think a bit more about leading. I had hit great drives on three and five, and had nine-irons in on both, 180 and 188 metres, flags at the front of the green and I made the eagles.

“This is not the longest course and a good drive is key, and then the main thing is to have the confidence that you can hit that far at altitude, the ball was going miles.

“It’s my first time playing at real altitude, but my South African caddy, Keegan Snalam, has been great helping me,” Bradbury said.

South Africans have always contended hard at the Joburg Open, with nine local winners in the 14 events, and this time defending champion Thriston Lawrence and veteran Jaco van Zyl are leading the charge on five-under.

Casey Jarvis, Dylan Mostert, Louis de Jager, Wilco Nienaber and Jbe Kruger, who still has six holes to play, are all on four-under.

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