Jean-Paul Strydom carded a blemish-free nine-under-par 63 in the opening round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf at Stellenbosch Golf Club to take a two-stroke lead on Thursday.
It’s only the second tournament he’s playing this season – after last week’s event at Humewood – following a long layoff due to a wrist injury he sustained before his victory in last season’s Tour Championship at Serengeti. As such, he admits, he doesn’t have lofty expectations in the wine lands this week.
‘It’s good to be back,’ he admitted.
‘I was out for six months after my win, so I’m not expecting too much. I played nicely in the pro-am; I had good company in JJ Senekal who is a member here so it’s always nice to watch him go around the course here. So, I took a couple of notes there. But I’m not expecting much. I’d been practising for about a month before Humewood. I was rusty in Port Elizabeth but I’m happy with the start here.’
Birdies on the third, fifth, eighth and ninth holes characterised his front nine and after turning in 32, Strydom continued the assault; making three birdies on the trot from the 12th to the 14th. He was not done, because he made further gains on the par-four 16th and 17th holes to sign for an untainted 63.
‘It always helps when you don’t have the bogeys on the card,’ he said with a smile. ‘I was walking down the 18th after I hit a nice driver through the fairway and I was in a divot and I was thinking “oh my goodness, please don’t do anything funny”.’
Senekal’s knowledge of the course helped him to an opening 65 in which he only dropped a single shot.
‘It’s always so tough to play at home because there are so many expectations,’ noted Senekal. ‘So to start off with a seven-under is always good on any golf course around South Africa but doing it at home is a little bit more special.
‘I saw guys make a couple of mistakes around the greens today; purely by reading them wrong. So, local knowledge is quite important around here.’
He is tied for second with rookie Stefan Wears-Taylor whose seven-under-par was the more eventful.
At six-under-par and in a share of fourth was member of the Gary Player Class, Keenan Davidse, local man Deon Germishuys, Andrew van der Knaap and Riekus Nortje.
First round leaderboard:
63 – Jean-Paul Strydom
65 – Stefan Wears-Taylor, JJ Senekal
66 – Keenan Davidse, Deon Germishuys, Riekus Nortje, Andrew van der Knaap
67 – Jacques P de Villiers, Chris Swanepoel, Philip Geerts, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Martin Rohwer, Kyle McClatchie
68 – Alex Haindl, Neil Schietekat, Ruan Conradie, Wynand Dingle, Clinton Grobler, Merrick Bremner, Hennie Otto, Thriston Lawrence
69 – Ruan Korb, Christiaan Basson, Jean Hugo, James Hart du Preez, Benjamin Follett-Smith, Gerrit Foster, Louis Albertse, Luke Brown, Caylum Boon, Heinrich Bruiners, Chris Cannon, Pieter Moolman, Daniel van Tonder, Jonathan Agren, Tristen Strydom, Erhard Lambrechts
70 – Estiaan Conradie, Jacques Blaauw, Titch Moore, Thabiso Ngcobo, Duane Keun, Hayden Griffiths, Roberto Lupini, Aubrey Beckley, Karl Ochse, Luke Jerling, Jaco Prinsloo, Jaco Ahlers, CJ du Plessis, Dylan Mostert, Breyten Meyer
71 – Wayne Stroebel, Stephen Ferreira, Fredrik From, Kyle Barker, David McIntyre, Jake Roos, Garrick Higgo, Jaco Van Zyl, Jake Redman, Jade Buitendag
72 – Gavin Vorster, Oliver Bekker, Andrew Curlewis, MJ Viljoen, Darin de Smidt, Matthew Rushton, Yubin Jung, Thato Mazibuko, Cameron Moralee, Ruan Huysamen, Anton Haig, Scott Campbell, Ockie Strydom, Garth Mulroy, Ruan de Smidt, Rhys West, Jonathan Waschefort
73 – Mohammad Rauf Mandhu, Keelan van Wyk, Juran Dreyer, Teboho Sefatsa, Combrinck Smit, Doug McGuigan, Wallie Coetsee, Ryan Tipping, Peetie van der Merwe, Franklin Manchest, Hendrikus Stoop, DK Kim, Ryan O’Neill
74 – Bennie van der Merwe, Andre De Decker, Christopher Van der Merwe, Teaghan Gauche, Tyrone Ryan, Rourke van der Spuy, Toto Thimba, Andre Nel, Paul Boshoff
75 – Francois van Vuuren, Lyle Rowe, Steve Surry, Jared Harvey, Theunis Bezuidenhout, Sean Bradley
76 – Kayyam Rauf Mandhu, Joe Nawanga, Jason Diab, Dylan Naidoo, Musiwalo Nethunzwi, Derick Petersen, Matt Bright, Cameron Esau, Marco de Beer
77 – Vaughn Groenewald, Nicholaus Frade, Sipho Bujela, Arno Pretorius
78 – Jacquin Hess, Callum Mowat
79 – Neswill Croy, Keelan Africa
81 – Lwazi Gqira
86 – Jeandre Badenhorst