Louis Oosthuizen forced to WD after freak airport injury
08 December, 2017, 01:13
It also sees the field growing from 206 to 240 professionals, which means the stakes have been upped for the golfers aiming to clinch the prestigious winner's title, one of three qualifying spots for The Open Championship, or be among the prize money finishers of the tournament for their share of the R16.5-million prize purse.
The 28-year-old South African missed the cut in Mauritius last week as a flu virus ran through his family, and he checked himself into the hospital ahead of the Johannesburg event.
Davidse, who plays out of Stellenbosch, was among the first men out on Thursday morning, teeing off at 7am on the Bushwillow course and he made the most of good scoring conditions.
He was three-under by the time he reached the sixth, and after that dropped shot he never looked back, birdieing five of the back nine to reach the clubhouse in fine fettle. I've worked very hard.
"I didn't play as many tournaments as I usually do past year with family issues". I was in hospital for about four days so I'm very chuffed today. I'm just out here to have fun, obviously, so I'm very blessed to be playing well. This now officially makes the Joburg Open the only tri-sanctioned tournament in South Africa.
"I didn't really have any expectations coming into the week".
Behind him, a group of six players are well placed on -7 after they too flourished on the Bushwillow 18, Matthew Baldwin claiming two eagles in the hunt of Davidse.
The leading seven players will take to the Firethorn course on Friday hoping to maintain their form.
Ten players were a further shot back at six-under, two off the lead, including South African Dean Burmester, who went round the Firethorn course - which will be used exclusively for the final two rounds on the weekend - in 66 blows.
Some of the biggest names from the three tours billed for the tournament include the Sunshine Tour's Louis Oosthuizen‚ former tournament champions Richard Sterne‚ Haydn Porteus and Darren Fichardt.