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Lawrie in contention as five share lead at Ballantine's Championship in South Korea

Updated: Thursday, 25 Apr 2013 17:14 | Comments

Peter Lawrie shot an opening round 68 to sit one shot off the lead in South Korea
Peter Lawrie shot an opening round 68 to sit one shot off the lead in South Korea

Peter Lawrie shot an impressive opening round four under par at the Ballantine's Championship in South Korea.

Dubliner Lawrie sits one shot off the lead after a 68 despite only arriving in Korea on Tuesday and not getting a practice round.

Half of the 156-strong field will return to Blackstone Golf Club at 7:30am local time tomorrow to complete their rounds, with the clubhouse lead shared on five under by France's Jean-Baptiste Gonnet, Australia's Kieran Pratt, Swede Johan Edfors, Korea's Kim Gi-whan and England's Matthew Baldwin, who had all completed rounds of 67 after a delay of two hours and 10 minutes due to rain and poor visibility.

Former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen faltered after a fittingly flying start, but still found himself just one shot off the lead in the weather-delayed Ballantine's Championship.

Oosthuizen made the journey from Florida to South Korea in a private jet laid on by the tournament sponsors and repaid their faith with six birdies in his first eight holes.

That took the world number seven into the outright lead and raised hopes of a first sub-60 round in European Tour history, but dropped shots on the 10th and 12th meant he was four under after 16 holes when fading light brought play to a close.

Conditions had improved by the time Oosthuizen, the highest ranked player in the field, began his round in brilliant fashion, getting up and down from a greenside bunker on the par-five first and hitting his approach to the second to five feet.

The 30-year-old then holed from 15 and 20ft on the next two holes to make it four birdies in succession, but had to scramble a par on the next after a badly hooked drive.

Normal service was resumed with birdies on the sixth and eighth, but hopes of a really low score - Oosthuizen once shot 57 on his home course at Mossel Bay - were ended by two dropped shots in quick succession after the turn.

"I got off to a great start and was hitting it really well early on," Oosthuizen said.

"But then on the back nine the wind came in and the weather got worse, and I miscued two shots and paid the price.

"But overall I haven't hit it that well for a long time, so it was very encouraging. I was striking it very nicely on the range this morning and then managed to take it onto the course with me this afternoon. So I'm very happy."

Joint leader Baldwin carded seven birdies and two bogeys in his 67, including losing a ball on the 17th and holing from long range to salvage a five.

"It was quite difficult to concentrate on such a long day so it was nice to be able to finish it off," said Baldwin, who finished 72nd on the Race to Dubai in his rookie season last year and also qualified for the Open Championship and US Open, making the cut in both.

"If you hit it in the right spot you can make birdies, but the weather was so up and down. One minute it was raining, next minute it was sunny and you're taking all your clothes off and to finish you were back in the jumper again."

England's David Howell was another stroke back on three under after equally disrupted preparation.

"I've had two days in bed and no practice round," Howell said on www.sportism.net.

"I came down with something on the flight over. Obviously, it's a course I know having played last year, but I'm delighted to have got out with three under par having just turned up.

"I was feeling pretty lousy for a couple of days. I don't think I've ever played a tournament where I've just pitched up on the morning. That was the best way to recover some energy, although I was flagging towards the end."

Damien McGrane shot one under to sit four shots off the lead, while Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley sits two shots further back on one over.

Gareth Maybin will resume his first round in the morning and is two over after ten holes played.

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