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Brooks keeps lead as rain interrupts Mandela Championship

(Reuters) - Englishman Daniel Brooks retained his slender lead at the Nelson Mandela Championship without playing a shot as persistent rain forced another suspension in Durban on Thursday.

Brooks, who has never finished in the top 10 on the European Tour, carded an eight-under 62 in the first round on Wednesday to establish a one-shot advantage over Frenchman Francois Calmels.

In the four hours of play possible on Thursday, South African Oliver Bekker advanced to six under through 14 holes to join French pair Edouard Dubois and Romain Wattel in third before a saturated course brought a halt to the day's proceedings.

"You just keep your head down and grind. There's nothing you can do about (the weather)," Bekker told the European Tour's website.

"If you can get past the mental battle and accept that it's the same for everyone, then I think you've already beaten half of the field.

"I'm actually happy with the delay, to be honest. The weather is brutal out there at the moment and I've got a couple of tough holes coming up. The forecast for (Friday) and Saturday is pretty good, so if it clears up we could get a few good rounds in."

Play on Wednesday was suspended for darkness following a seven-hour delay to the start of the round at the Mount Edgecombe Country Club.

Scott Jamieson won the inaugural Nelson Mandela Championship in 2012 when rain meant the tournament was shortened to 36 holes. He will resume on Friday on two over par in his first round with five holes to play.

The start of this year's tournament was brought forward 24 hours to avoid a clash with the funeral of former South African president Nelson Mandela on Sunday.

(Reporting by Nick Said in Cape Town; editing by Stephen Wood)

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