Joburg Open. Four Tied at the Top. February 06 2014

dragon logo dark Craig Lee is tied at the top of the leaderboard with three other players at the conclusion of the first round of the Joburg Open at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club in South Africa. Craig Lee  (Getty Images)

Craig Lee / Getty Images

Craig Lee is hoping to be in line for a maiden Major Championship appearance at this year’s The Open, as he looks to improve his record in South Africa after making a superb start to the Joburg Open, scoring -7 under par 65 on the longer East Course.

 Alastair Forsyth, Edoardo Molinari and Justin Walters all carded opening rounds of -7 under par 65 on the West Course to be sharing the top spot on the leaderboard at the Joburg Open.

Craig mentioned the chance to play at The Open;

“I've played really nice golf for that, so I'm delighted with the score that I've managed to put together. I hit a lot of shots in to about 15 feet today and I didn't hole that many of those putts, but then on the back I managed to knock in a few putts, so a game of two nines today. It's really hard to figure out where you are in the field with two golf courses, and with the East being slightly tougher I feel like I'm in a good position. If we can keep the same level of golf then we might be able to separate ourselves from the bunch.”

“I don't normally play well at all in South Africa, my record here is actually pretty pathetic. It's probably a course that should have suited me in the past, because my strength has always been ball striking. I've never played that great around here, but my game has gotten slightly better over the years. You don't really change your strategy, but it's a great reward for three lucky guys who'll get a chance to play in The Open. It's nice to have qualifiers throughout the year and not just geared up to that 36-hole sprint that most qualifiers are. Hopefully we can keep the game up and take one of those spots.”

Justin said he may not go to The Open, even if he qualifies;

"My girlfriend is pregnant, 16 weeks, so the baby is supposed to arrive around the British Open. Going into the year when I heard that this was one of the qualifying events I really felt a sense of irony. Finally qualifying for an event I've wanted to play for my whole life, I can see the irony of maybe having to pull out if the baby is arriving.”

Alastair played as good as he has done in a while;

“The front nine was probably as good as I've played in a long time. I seemed to do everything right on the front nine, but I struggled a little on the back, where I ended up between clubs a few times. No dropped shots and seven birdies, so I'm never going to complain with that.”

This Open qualifying series is going to be exciting to watch, and this field is certainly bunched up after the first round.