DURBAN, South Africa — Morten Orum Madsen made a late charge Saturday to match Tim Clark’s 5-under 60 and grab a share of the first-round lead at the European Tour’s rain-delayed season-opening Nelson Mandela Championship.
Clark had six birdies and one bogey on the shortened Royal Durban Golf Club course, which was badly affected by heavy rain over the previous few days. The tournament was reduced to a 36-hole event.
Norway’s Madsen, a tour newcomer, carded seven birdies and two bogeys to join Clark at the top of the leaderboard as the first event of the 2013 Race to Dubai finally began after the first two days were washed out.
The east coast course was adjusted to a par-65 from a par-70 and reduced by about 1,600 yards after almost all the holes were under water on Friday following heavy thunderstorms. Organizers were forced to reorganize the layout to ensure play could go ahead.
Shortening the event to two rounds also gave early pace-setters Madsen and Clark a strong advantage ahead of the second and decisive round on Sunday. South Africa’s Lindani Ndwandwe and England’s Chris Lloyd were a shot behind.
Clark played aggressively after an early start in his home city, attacking the eight new short holes. He birdied three par-3s in a row in his opening nine.
“It’s really a case of when we did get to play, come out, try and play well and put yourself in a position,” he said. “I’m happy to have done that. We obviously can’t tell what the future holds, but I do hope we get to play some more golf.”
Madsen, who has never won a European Tour event, dealt admirably with the challenging conditions to make four birdies going out. He dropped two coming in before finishing with successive birdies.
He and Clark have a narrow advantage over Durban-based Ndwandwe and Lloyd, who had vastly different 61s.
Ndwandwe double-bogeyed his first and added two bogeys, six birdies and an eagle two on the par-4 No. 2 — his 11th. Lloyd, another European Tour rookie, had four birdies and no dropped shots.
South Africa’s Branden Grace, a four-time winner last season who finished No. 6 on the European money list, opened his season with a 1-over 66.