Ritchie eagles last to be 1 off Czech lead

An eagle on his final hole on Thursday helped JC Ritchie to a five-under-par 66 in the opening round of the Challenge Tour’s Kaskáda Golf Challenge at the Kaskáda Golf Resort in Brno, Czech Republic.

It was a bogey-free round for the reigning Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open champion, and it took him into a share of fourth place, one behind the leaders Marcel Schneider and Freddy Schott of Germany and Australian Blake Windred. Schott still has to complete his round because of weather-related delays.

Ritchie’s round was initially steady without being spectacular as he made birdies on 13 and 16 after starting his round on the 10th. He made two more pars ahead of the turn, and then five more before he picked up another shot on the sixth.

Then came the eagle: “I hit a perfect driver down the middle of the fairway on the ninth,” he said. “Then I hit a seven-iron from 197 yards a little downwind to three feet and made the putt.”

Next best of the South Africans were Jayden Schaper, Jacques Blaauw and Jacques Kruyswijk on one-under 70. Schaper made three birdies and two bogeys, while Kruyswijk has an altogether more colourful round with six birdies, three bogeys and a double on his scorecard. Blaauw’s round was more of a struggle, with just two birdies and a bogey on his card.

Oliver Bekker and Bryce Easton were on level-par 71, while Mathiam Keyser signed for a one-over 72.

For Ritchie, after a start on the European Tour last week, things seem to be falling into place in his European campaign as he seeks playing status on the main tour. “I’m definitely starting to feel more comfortable out here,” he said, “but every day I’m out here, I’m learning more.”

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