Hennie du Plessis felt his putting game was on song on Thursday as he signed for a low six-under-par 66 opening round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf at Sishen Golf Club to sit at the top of the leaderboard.
‘My putting, I have been holing a lot of good putts,’ he said. ‘My iron play too, I mean, all around it’s been very good. Today I started very well with the eagle on the second hole and I just kept the momentum going.’
In a hot afternoon in Northern Cape, Du Plessis wasted no time in getting his round going as he made that eagle on the par-five second hole, and followed it up with birdies on six and nine. He did well on the homeward stretch to keep bogeys off his card as he made further gains with birdies on 12, 14 and 15 to usurp early pace-setters Aubrey Beckley, Jonathan Agren, Desne van den Berg and defending champion Jacques Blaauw.
‘I did a little bit of everything,’ he said of the types of shots he played in round one at Sishen. ‘If there were a few attacking holes, you could hit a driver. Tight holes; two-irons, three-woods, so yeah, a little bit of everything.’
Ruan de Smidt had his brother Darin on the bag and that chemistry proved fruitful as he romped to a five-under 65 opening round and take second spot. He, too, was on course to producing a flawless round until he dropped a shot on 10.
Sharing the third spot were Beckley, Agren, Van Den Berg and Blaauw, who was making his first start of the season on the local circuit. They were tied at four-under 68. While Blaauw has not been having the greatest of seasons out on the Web.com Tour, he seemed to enjoy himself in Kathu, and the type of golf he played on Thursday was evidence of this.
‘It’s always nice to be back here,’ Blaauw said. ‘I mean, 12 months ago it was good fun out here and I can’t believe the year’s gone by so quickly. I’m feeling comfortable on this golf course and playing with your friends, it’s just awesome.’
Matthew Spacey, Tyrone Ferreira, Irvin Mazibuko, Martin Rohwer and Jaco Prinsloo all signed for three-under-par 69 and shared the seventh spot on the leaderboard.
With the weather forecast predicting more hot days in the Northern Cape, the second round will be a real test for all the players and it will take character and some really good golf for any of them to emerge victorious on the weekend.
First round leaderboard:
66 – Hennie du Plessis
67 – Ruan de Smidt
68 – Aubrey Beckley, Jacques Blaauw, Desne Van Den Bergh, Jonathan Agren
69 – Matthew Spacey, Tyrone Ferreira, Irvin Mazibuko, Martin Rohwer, Jaco Prinsloo
70 – Damon Stephenson, Cody Martin, Hennie Otto, Justin Harding, Doug McGuigan, Ockie Strydom, MJ Viljoen
71 – Duane Keun, Mohammad Rauf Mandhu, Stephen Ferreira, Louis de Jager, Jason Froneman, Danie Van Niekerk, Antonio Rosado, Thriston Lawrence, Tyrone Ryan, Jean Hugo, Andre Nel, Breyten Meyer, Luke Jerling, Divan Gerber
72 – Dongkwan Kim, Jason Viljoen, Jake Roos, Ryan Tipping, Andrew van der Knaap, Wynand Dingle, Andrew Curlewis, Colin Nel, Stuart Smith, Steven Ferreira, Madalitso Muthiya, Theunis Spangenberg, JJ Senekal, Lyle Rowe, Jacques Kruyswijk, Lindani Ndwandwe
73 – Pieter Kruger, Nic Henning, Jason Roets, Dwayne Basson, Combrinck Smit, Christiaan Basson, Mark Williams, Toto Thimba, Thanda Mavundla, Matthew Carvell, Peter Karmis, Omar Sandys
74 – Teaghan Gauche, Charl Coetzee, Jaco Mouton, Jacques P de Villiers, Alex Haindl, Steve Surry, Jean-Paul Strydom, Chris Cannon, Wallie Coetsee, Rourke van der Spuy, Jake Redman, Callum Mowat
75 – Teboho Sefatsa, Heinrich Bruiners, Jared Harvey, Jason Diab, Martin Rominger, Ryan Cairns, Herman Loubser, Rhys West, Zander Lombard, Francois Coetzee, Jacquin Hess, Jason Smith, Matias Calderon
76 – Gert Myburgh, Altaaf Bux, N.J. Arnoldi, Keenan Davidse, Ruan Huysamen, Allister de Kock
77 – Mohit Mediratta, Morne Buys, Bryandrew Roelofsz, Chris Swanepoel, Daniel Hammond, Riekus Nortje, Makhetha Mazibuko, Michael Palmer, Mark Murless, Jeff Inglis, Louis Calitz
78 – Bryn Flanagan, PH McIntyre, Dayne Moore, Sean Bradley, Gerard du Plooy
79 – Greg Bentley, Allan Versfeld, Michael Hollick
80 – Stefan Engell Andersen, Neal Herman, Teagan Moore
81 – Shane Granger, Kevin Stone
82 – Cameron Esau
83 – Antonio Costa, Gavin Vorster
84 – Eugen Marugi