DURBAN, South Africa (AP) — Raphael Jacquelin shot a bogey-free 5-under 67 in extremely windy conditions on South Africa's east coast to take the first-round lead at the Volvo Golf Champions on Thursday.
Jacquelin was the only player in the 36-man field not to drop a shot around Durban Country Club for a one-stroke advantage over defending champion Louis Oosthuizen.
Darren Clarke, whose last title was at the 2011 British Open, was tied for third on 69 alongside Victor Dubuisson.
Race to Dubai leader Thomas Bjorn was last after a 7-over 79 which included two double bogeys on the back nine, giving last month's big-money winner at Sun City a tough start on his return to South Africa.
Jacquelin is competing in his first tournament in around six weeks but the Frenchman picked up shots at Nos. 6 and 8 and finished with three birdies in his last five holes to stay just ahead of Oosthuizen.
"I'm better when the conditions are difficult and I just seem to score better whether it is in the wind or in the rain, or if the course is difficult," Jacquelin said. "I also stayed focused all day long and when you manage to save par in these conditions you are always going to have a good round. That's the way I like to play."
Jacquelin qualified for the $4 million tournament by winning his fourth European Tour title at last year's Spanish Open following a tour record nine-hole playoff.
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