Pieter Moolman played the patience game on Thursday in the first round of the Sunshine Tour’s Tour Championship at Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate as his bogey-free six-under-par 66 gave him a two-stroke lead.
On a day when nobody else was able to go around the course without dropping a shot, Moolman took it on and is two shots clear of Trevor Fisher Jnr. George Coetzee, Tristen Strydom and Luke Jerling share third on three-under, three behind Moolman.
“It’s always fun going bogey-free. I’m very pleased,” said Moolman. The trick on a day on which a steady wind played a role, and on a course where the undulating greens pose more than the usual putting challenge, Moolman spent a lot of time hitting his approaches close enough to make certain of par, and to take birdie chances when they arose.
“I kept it pretty solid,” he said. “My swing isn’t really there but I got a bit lucky with my lies in the rough and chipped and putted well.”
Moolman got himself into the Tour Championship on the back of four top-10s during the season, with his best performance a runner-up finish in the PGA Championship in November last year. His recently finished in a share of seventh in the Limpopo Championship.
“I’ve played well this season and a win this week would certainly be the cherry on top,” he said. “That second in the PGA Championship did a lot for me. It gave me good confidence for the rest of the season. I seem to be moving in the right direction, as that seventh in Limpopo showed, but there is always one day that’s a bit off for me. If I can get over that one day it will lead to much better results.”
An indication of how tough the conditions were was that only 21 of the 37-man field were at par or better, and that the leading player in the field, JC Ritchie, managed to limp around in six-over-par 78 with not a single birdie on his card.