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Golf: Donaldson leads at halfway stage in Sun City

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Welshman Jamie Donaldson stormed into the lead in the Nedbank Golf Challenge in Sun City on Friday, establishing a three-stroke lead over Henrik Stenson and Ryan Moore.

The morning after the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela began with a minute's silence in honour of the great man at the Gary Player Country Club, before the weather delayed first round was resumed.

Donaldson completed a first round of five under par 67 to finish round one in second spot on the leaderboard.

He soon put his foot down to accelerate away from the field, firing seven birdies in 14 holes to move to 11 under par and three clear of golf's form man Stenson and American Moore.

"I played really well. I hit a lot of iron shots quite close which enabled me to make a few putts. The greens are not big here, so if you can get it near the flag you are never too far away," said Donaldson.

"I have been playing nicely the last three weeks; it is a good end to the year and obviously the last event of the season.

"I am looking forward to some time at home with the family and Christmas as home, but I have been on a good run and have two important days to go first, which I am very much looking forward to."

Asked if he would like to take a $1.25 million Christmas present home to the family, the Welshman smiled: "That would be a nice present from Santa."

Stenson, Moore and the rest of the world class field, including defending champion Martin Kaymer and Thomas Björn (both tied on seven under) may have something to say about Donaldson's plans for a huge Christmas bonus over the next two days.

Stenson admitted that his scorching form over the last few months was beginning to catch up with him but hopes the adrenaline can keep flowing for a couple of more days to get him over the line.

"I am kind of running off fumes to be honest," said Stenson. "But I have put myself in a pretty good position so hopefully I can keep going and keep making birdies.

"If you can get yourself in a decent position early in the week then that can give you the little bit extra motivation to keep going to try and be there on Sunday so I am hoping that will be the case again this week.

"I am pretty tired mentally and physically but please don't tell Jamie, Ryan Moore and the other guys at the top of the leaderboard - we'll keep that little secret between."

bur/ak

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131206/golf-donaldson-leads-at-halfway-stage-sun-city