By Jason Humphries
EAST LONDON, South Africa (Reuters) - Spanish Open champion Thomas Aiken took full advantage of benign conditions to snatch a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Africa Open on Thursday.
The 28-year-old South African fired a nine-under 64 at the coastal East London Golf Club to edge out fellow countrymen Retief Goosen, his playing partner, and Jaco Ahlers.
The course is short by modern standards, measuring 6,191 yards, and relies on blustery winds for its main defense.
Aiken, playing in the first group of the day, stole a march on his rivals by grabbing two eagles and five birdies in a bogey-free round.
"I wasn't really expecting that after two weeks without touching a club," he told reporters. "It was a great morning this morning and scoring conditions were good.
"The course was there for the taking. It's not the longest but it bites if you go wrong. Anything off line is pretty much a reload off the tee which makes it a thinking man's course."
Goosen, holder of two U.S. Open titles, reeled off nine birdies and a single dropped shot in his round.
South Africans Dean O'Riley and Michael du Toit and Briton Phillip Price shared fourth place on 66.
Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, carded a double-bogey six at the sixth as he went round in 69.
The Africa Open is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and South Africa's Sunshine Tour.
(Editing by Tony Jimenez. To comment on this story: firstname.lastname@example.org)