Erik van Rooyen and Charl Schwartzel each carded a one-under-par 71 in Thursday in the first round of the Valero Texas Open, the last tournament on the PGA Tour ahead of the Masters next week.
That left them eight off the fast pace set by Camilo Villegas, who overcame a bogey on his opening hole, the 10th, and made nine birdies to give himself a two-stroke edge over South Korea’s Sung Kang and Cameron Tringale of the United States.
Van Rooyen made five birdies and four bogeys in his round, while Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, who is trying to regain the kind of form which made him a major champion, made three birdies and two bogeys in a battling display.
Branden Grace, the other South African in the field, made only one birdie on his way to a three-over-par 75.
On the Korn Ferry Tour, South Africans Dawie van der Walt and Tyrone van Aswegen had poor starts in the Emerald Coast Classic in Florida, with rounds of three-over 73 and five-over 75 respectively. The leader in that tournament is American Andrew Novak, who has a four-stroke lead thanks to his opening eight-under-par 62.