Christiaan Bezuidenhout kick-started his round on Thursday with a pitch-in eagle on his way to an eight-under-par 64 and a share of the first-round lead of the European Tour’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Golf Club just outside London.
He hit his second to the par-five fourth slightly long and left, and was in some thick rough behind the green. His attempt to pitch out was never going to be easy from that thick lie, and, had the ball not pitched straight into the hole, it was destined to finish a long way from the flag.
In any event, it went in, and it got the world number 44 going: He made three consecutive birdies after that with some sublime approaches and even better putting. He missed out on picking up a stroke on the par-five 12th, but he birdied the 13th and, at six-under, he was closing in on the early leader, Kiradech Aphibarnrat of Thailand who had carded a bogey-free 64 in the morning field.
Unfortunately for Bezuidenhout, he dropped a shot on the par-four 14th after a rare wayward tee-shot. But he bounced right back, making consecutive birdies on 16, 17 and 18. Particularly satisfying was the birdie on 18 which came on the though par-five closer which was played conservatively after his tee-shot found a fairway bunker. He was left with a 25-footer for birdie, and he curled it in from fully two feet from the right.
Bezuidenhout and Aphibarnrat were a shot clear of Australia’s Adam Scott, who was immaculate on his way to a seven-under 65, bar a bogey on the par-four 16th. Justin Rose, Japan’s Masahiro Kawamura and Rose’s English compatriot Laurie Canter were in a share of fourth on five-under.
Dean Burmester also had a good start to the tournament, moving to four-under after 17 holes. But a double-bogey seven on the final holes saw him slip to two-under and a share of 22nd. Also on two-under was Justin Walters.
A trio of South Africans was on level-par, with Garrick Higgo, Haydn Porteous and Brandon Stone in a share of 67th. Wilco Nienaber and Daniel van Tonder were on one-over, George Coetzee was on two-over, while Zander Lombard, Branden Grace and Justin Harding started with three-over-par. Thomas Aiken battled to an eight-over 80.