Thriston Lawrence equalled his own course record to lead the first round of the Investec South African Open at Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate on Thursday.
The South African matched the eight-under-par 64 he shot here in a Sunshine Tour event over a year ago for a one-stroke lead over England’s Ross Fisher and Swede Jens Fahrbring.
“I’m quite familiar with this golf course. I played nicely and managed to drop a few putts thanks to a tip from my father,” said Lawrence.
“After last week’s Joburg Open my dad asked me for some time on the putting green and said I wasn’t looking comfortable and should stand a bit further away from the ball. He told me to just trust him, which I did, and it helped.”
It was the perfect start for Lawrence on a golf course that by its sheer length challenged the field on a warm day in Africa.
“It’s a very long golf course, but I like to play full shots into the greens. I think my mid-to-high irons are the key to my game. It is a long golf course but it suits me.
“I’m sticking to my gameplan and being aggressive off the tee. I love playing aggressively and this golf course gives you that opportunity.
“And to start like this in my national Open means everything. Everybody wants to get their hands on that trophy and it’s a good start.”
Lawrence has just come off a rookie DP World Tour season in which he won twice and became the first South African to be named the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year. And he’s clearly picked up from where he left off in this new season.
“I just kept doing what I’m doing. I’m a big believer in not changing what works. I’ve been doing the same things for the last few years and am a big believer in not changing what’s already working.”
Fahrbring, who admits he’s not a long hitter, put everything into his opening 65 to be one off the lead alongside Fisher.
“I tried to hit my driver as hard as I could and today it went straight and fairly long for me. I hit some quality iron shots and made some putts, which was good. I’m quite tired, so home, rest, get some food and drink a lot of water,” he said.