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Singh and Perry hold one-shot lead

Vijay Singh shares the first round lead at Sun City
Vijay Singh shares the first round lead at Sun City

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SUN CITY, South Africa -- Fiji's Vijay Singh and American Kenny Perry carded seven-under-par 65s to lead the field after the first round of the Sun City Golf Challenge.

Singh, who topped the U.S. Tour's money list in 2003, had a bogey free round, which included seven birdies.

Perry, a member of the U.S. Presidents Cup team last week, had eight birdies and a bogey on a day when overnight rain made the greens soft and receptive.

The 43-year-old from Kentucky joined Singh with nines of 31 and 34 and fired four straight birdies between the seventh and 10th holes.

Defending champion and local favourite Ernie Els fired a disappointing level-par round of 72 -- the first time in 29 rounds at Sun City that he has failed to break par.

Four players were tied for second at six-under 66, including Australian Robert Allenby and American Chris DiMarco.

The pair both had remarkable second nines, with DiMarco coming back in 29 after a first nine of 37 and Allenby more consistent with loops of 34 and 32.

But both players only needed a staggering nine putts each on the inward half. Allenby only required 22 putts for his entire round, a fine effort as he was suffering with an upset stomach.

"I played really solid today, apart from two holes I think I hit every fairway and green (in regulation). The pins were pretty generous and if you could get it close you were always in with a chance," said Singh.

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke also carded a six-under 66 along with 23-year-old Australian Adam Scott.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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