George Coetzee played his way around TPC Blue Monster in level-par 72 on Thursday to share 28th place after round one at the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
The Dimension Data Pro-Am winner played the back nine at Trump National Doral in one-under-par after making a birdie at the first and successive pars all the way to the clubhouse.
It was an impressively solid round from the 29-year-old, who earned a spot in the tournament by finishing in the top two on the final 2015 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.
He started with a birdie at the first, but the famously tough layout bit back on the second and he dropped a shot to return to level par. A further dropped shot at the sixth was the final blemish on Coetzee’s card and he signed for 72 at the end of the day.
Heading up the charge was American Scott Piercy and Australian Marcus Fraser, who each carded 66 to lie one stroke clear of Phil Mickelson.
Fraser recently won the Maybank Championship Malaysia and has carried his good form across to the United States.
‘Before Malaysia, I didn’t see it coming, but yeah, pulled that one out of the hat and played well all week. Then played well last week in Perth. I felt pretty good, to rest up and get ready for today,’ he said.
Plenty of tournament favourites started well on Thursday, with Adam Scott in a share of fourth, followed by Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson in a share of eighth.
Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace each shot one-over-par 73 to join a tie for 37th place, while Louis Oosthuizen was a further stroke adrift and shared 43rd place.