Mark Murless and Theunis Spangenberg share the R1,2-million Nashua Masters lead on six-under-par 64 following a drama-packed first round on Thursday which saw Eugen Marugi's hopes dashed when he was bitten by a night adder.
The 24-year-old Marugi, one of South Africa's most promising young black professionals, was bitten on the left arm by the venomous snake while searching for his golf ball in thick bush flanking the Wild Coast Sun County Club's 12 fairway.
One under par at the time of the incident, a panicking Marugi was rushed to nearby Port Edward where a blood test revealed the identity of the snake, and anti-venom was administered.
On Thursday night the golfer was recovering at the resort with a still-painful arm. But the night adder, although not as poisonous as other adders like the puff-adder, had destroyed his dream of a good finish as he was unable to continue play.
Both Murless and Spangenberg can dream of their first win on the more glamorous summer swing of the Sunshine Tour.
Three weeks ago Murless was in contention in the R10-million Joburg Open, which is co-sanctioned with the European Tour, but fell out of the running on the final day.
Now the 31-year-old former SA Amateur strokeplay champion, who has three winter tour wins to his name, has another chance of breaking through in the summer following his eight-birdie return here.
"I enjoy this course and have had more top 10s here than anywhere else I've played," said the Blue Valley professional who has been on the tour for 12 years.
"It's a course which suits my eye and where you have to think your way round.
"Position is more important than being able to pull out the driver and hit the ball a mile - and that's how I like to play."
Sishen Golf Club's Spangenberg ,24, who won the SA Boys title as a teenager, has been a professional for only two years and has finished in the top 10 in tournaments twice only.
One shot behind the leaders on 65 are Justin Walters, Grant Muller and big-hitting Titch Moore, who enjoys the course and has finished second three times in this tournament.
Lindani Ndwandwe, Marc Cayeux, Wayne de Haas, Brett Liddle and Martin Maritz are bracketed on 66, while defending champion Jean Hugo opened with a solid round of 68.
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