Blaauw dials back distance, takes Cape Town Open lead

Apr 29, 2021 | Featured, Sunshine Tour

Jacques Blaauw dialled back his search for distance and it paid off as he carded a six-under-par 66 on Thursday at Royal Cape Golf Club to take the first-round lead of Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open.

It took a putting performance of the highest quality for him to go bogey-free in windy conditions, but he recognised that he was hitting the ball better than he has lately, and that was also part of the reason he held a one-stroke edge over Denmark’s Martin Simonsen, South Africa’s Tristen Strydom, and New Zealander Daniel Hillier in the tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the Challenge Tour.

“I haven’t been playing that well lately,” said Blaauw. I was looking for a bit more speed. I normally carry the ball about 270 off the tee, and I was looking for 280 or 285, just have in case I needed it. But I ended up spraying it a bit, and my coach, my caddie and I decided to go back to where we were, and it’s just starting to come right.”

It came back particularly well on his opening nine, where he hit eight out of nine greens in regulation, and five of seven fairways off the tee. That was despite the weather. “It was a one-and-a-half club wind,” he said. “On the first, I hit driver and six-iron, and I’d normally have a wedge in there. And it was raining for the first two holes of my round, so that made things difficult too.”

Putting in the wind can be a tricky experience too, and Blaauw two-putted six times on the opening nine as he took 15 putts. But it all fell into place on the homeward nine as he had just a single two putt, and, on all the rest of the holes, he got down in one.

“I missed a couple of greens,” he said, “and I had to make a couple of decent par-putts. Making those gives you great momentum. But I’m enjoying these greens a hell of a lot. I’m seeing the lines very well. Put the good putting and enjoying the greens together, and you get a good result.”

For Blaauw, the round at Royal Cape took him back to his junior days, when he played a lot of tournament golf on the course, as well as to 2014, when he played the final round with eventual winner Jaco Ahlers.

“You need to remember that winning scores aren’t generally very low here,” he said, reflecting on how good his six-under might be in the context of 72 holes when Sunday afternoon comes round. “When I played with Jaco, it was 14-under, and the best there has been at Royal Cape was Jacques Kruyswijk’s 17-under. Rhys Enoch’s 19-under came at King David Mowbray.

“So, for me to open with a 66, that makes me very happy,” he said.

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