Merrick Bremner is the leading South African golfer at the Swiss Challenge after opening with a one-under-par 70. His round was good enough to give him a tie for 16th on Thursday in Lucerne.
His round started on the 10th in shaky fashion with a bogey. It got worse as Bremner then double-bogeyed the 16th, but picked up a birdie at the 17th to make the turn in two-over-par 37.
The first three holes of his second nine included a par, a birdie, and a bogey. Seemingly stuck at two-over-par, Bremner found something and made three birdies in a row from the fourth to the sixth. No more dropped shots allowed the two-time Lombard Insurance Classic winner to sign for 70.
The five-time Sunshine Tour champ had only played on the Challenge Tour once this season, sharing 73rd place at the Barclays Kenya Open. The finish in Nairobi was when Bremner had yet to find his best from.
The Swiss Challenge comes after some impressive finishes for the 30-year-old, culminating in a win at the Lombard Insurance Classic. His victory followed top-10 finishes at the Zambia Sugar Open and Royal Swazi Open. The Durban-born golfer will hope after his opening round that his recent form can stick with him through the week.
For much of the morning it was Spanish amateur Ivan Cantero Gutierrez who grabbed the headlines. The 20-year-old raced to the front of the field by going out in just 29 strokes. At six-under after nine holes, everything looked promising for Cantero. This was unfortunately as good as it got for the youngster, who bogeyed five holes on his homeward stretch. Three of the bogeys came in succession at his final three holes, as he eventually carded a one-under-par 70. At the head of the field was Italian Andrea Pavan who shot five-under-par 66.
South Africans in the field include Darryn Lloyd, who opened with a two-over-par 73, and Dean Burmester, who struggled to a horrendous round of 80.