Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better for JC Ritchie, it did.
Only four days after his last victory, Ritchie carded a nine-under-par 61 at the par-70 Woods course at Mount Edgecombe to lead the Jonsson Workwear Open on Thursday. He also had a hole-in-one. And his 61 was a course record. Oh, hang on, it was also all on his birthday.
“Today was pretty strange,” said Ritchie. “It was probably the best ball-striking day I’ve had in my life. I don’t remember ever having that control on a golf course. That was really nice. And to have a hole-in-one on my birthday was pretty awesome. Today was just really special.”
His hole-in-one came on the 213-yard par-three 2nd hole with a golden 5-iron. It was one of two holes-in-one on the opening day. At Durban Country Club, David Ravetto aced the par-three 12th hole to win himself a seven-night stay at the Hilton Garden Inn Umhlanga Arch.
Ritchie leads by two shots over Rupert Kaminski, whose 63 was also at the Woods course at Mount Edgecombe. The first two rounds are shared between the Durban Country Club course and Mount Edgecome Country Club’s The Woods course.
MJ Viljoen and Christopher Mivis led the scoring at Durban Country Club with their rounds of 66 to place them in a group on six under.
But, on the east coast of Durban, the man clearly riding the wave of form at present is Ritchie.
This past Sunday, he holed a magnificent putt on the final green at Royal Cape to win the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open, successfully defending this title. He arrived in Durban having sorted out what he said were a few niggling issues with his ball-striking, and feeling as confident as ever.
“I didn’t hit the ball well at all last weekend,” he said. “I think it might have been a combination of nerves and the wind in Cape Town. But I managed to do some work and straighten out everything.
“I didn’t look at the scoreboard before I teed off. We were all wondering what kind of score you’re looking at for this week, but I just closed my eyes and took what the golf course gave me. And today it was really generous. My aim was to just keep hitting the ball in good spots and give myself realistic chances.”
Ritchie heads to Durban Country Club on Friday and has a very clear strategy for this venerable golf course.
“Durban Country Club is sneaky, so I’ll respect her as much as I can. Hopefully, the ball striking stays where it is and I can just stick to my gameplan.”