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Flawless Santos sets pace in Africa Open

EAST LONDON, South Africa (Reuters) - A flawless opening round from Ricardo Santos earned him a two-shot lead in the European Tour's Africa Open at the East London Golf Club on Thursday.

The Portuguese carded nine birdies and looked virtually untroubled in shooting his sparkling 62 on the par-71 course.

Santos leads four players tied on seven-under par, including home favorite Garth Mulroy, Welshman Rhys Davies, England's Richard Bland and Dane Lucas Bjerregaard.

"To shoot minus nine you have to play awesome golf, so I'm really pleased with every piece of my game," Santos told the European tour website.

"I played really solidly today and gave myself a lot of chances for birdie, and I took a lot of those chances.

"If the wind blows this is a very tough course, but today if you put the ball in the fairway you had the chance to shoot a low round."

Santos's round was the joint lowest score of his European Tour career and the 31-year-old has finished in the top 30 in his last five events in South Africa.

"I made nine under in Madeira to win the event, but I shot 63 there, because the par was 72. Today was definitely one of my best rounds of golf so far," he said.

"I put the ball very close, didn't miss a fairway, and that's the key on this course."

(Reporting by Nick Said in Cape Town; editing by Mark Pangallo; nick.said@thomsonreuters.com +27832722948 Messaging nick.said.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net; To sign up for our Global Sports Forum chatroom, click on https://forms.thomsonreuters.com/global_sports_forum) nL3N0LI5IU

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