N.J. Arnoldi, Desne Van Den Bergh, Etienne Bond and Jason Viljoen are tied at the top of the Big Easy Tour Championship after carding rounds of three-under-par 68 at Wanderers Golf Club.
The finale of the Big Easy season sees the top-30 players in the Order of Merit compete for a purse of R200, 000 and Arnoldi says his 16th place finish in last years standings is something he’s happy to improve on.
‘I’ve been grafting hard after the result I got last year and I wasn’t quite happy with that result. I finished 16th on the Order of Merit and so far it’s been better this year. That second place at Glendower in the MENA co-sanctioned event helped a lot and I’m hoping for a good week this week.’ explained Arnoldi.
Arnoldi made the most of the tough scoring conditions thanks to some brilliant tee to green play, and if it wasn’t for a cold putter, he could have established a handsome outright lead heading into the second day.
‘It’s playing a bit tough. Now that everything is dry because of the winter, the ball is rolling out and it’s quite tough to keep it in the fairways. As we know, you don’t really want to miss a fairway on this course,’ he said after hitting seven out of the 14 fairways.
‘I really played well tee to green. I struggled a little bit on the greens and missed a couple of short ones, bit I’m happy with my first round result,’ he added.
A crucial part of Arnoldi’s game plan consisted placing his ball on the greens in the correct spot.
‘I wouldn’t recommend staying above the hole on this course. The greens are really rolling nice but they’re very quick. The whole day I aimed for the low side of the green, so that you’ve got an uphill putt.’
Currently lying eighth in the Order of Merit, Arnoldi can leapfrog Bryandrew Roelofsz with a good showing to get inside the top five in the standings.
68 – N.J. Arnoldi, Desne Van Den Bergh, Etienne Bond, Jason Viljoen
69 – Francois Coetzee
70 – Jaco Mouton
71 – Matthew Carvell