Thriston Lawrence made a strong bid to become only the third player to win two Joburg Open titles as he opened with a superb eight-under-par 62 to lead the first round by three strokes at Houghton Golf Club on Thursday.
Lawrence, the champion in 2021 and who is looking to join Charl Schwartzel and Richard Sterne as double winners of this title, produced a flawless round of golf that started with five birdies in his opening six holes.
He added a further three birdies on the back nine for a round that is the lowest ever recorded at Houghton Golf Club with the course playing as a par 70 as it is this week.
“The putter was hot,” said Lawrence. “It felt like I was reading the putts really nicely. The greens are firm so you could play some nice shots and plan for the undulations on these greens. I was pin high a few times, the proximity to the hole was good and the putter was on fire.”
Lawrence’s nearest challenger is fellow South African Nikhil Rama who signed for a five-under-par 65, while defending champion Dan Bradbury – who was playing with Lawrence – is in a strong group of players on four under par which also includes Zander Lombard, Andy Sullivan, Jayden Schaper and Stephen Gallacher.
“I was trying to hang on with Thriston but he left me on the back nine,” said Bradbury. “It was great playing with him, though, because he just kept hitting good golf shots. I hit a lot of very good shots and I had a few putts that I don’t know how they missed, but I’m still happy with the start.”
Rama was equally delighted with his start. The young South African professional played his way into this event with a top-five finish in the Sunshine Tour’s Vodacom Origins of Golf Final, and took full advantage on Thursday.
“I’ve been playing really well and it’s good to see it pay off again,” he said. “I know this golf course well. There was a bit of breeze but my game was very solid. I’m just enjoying it. It’s great being able to compete in a Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned event.”
Photo: Sunshine Tour