Papwa Sewgolum Class member Keelan Van Wyk carded an opening round of four-under-par 68 on day one of the final tournament of the Altron Big Easy Tour, sharing the lead with four others at Country Club Johannesburg on Tuesday.
Ricky Hendler, DK Kim, Adam Breen and Keegan Mclachlan are the other players in that five-way share of the early lead.
“I laid out the game plan with my caddie and we executed it well,” said Van Wyk whose four other starts on the Altron Big Easy Tour yielded results that were good enough to get him into the final where only the top 30 players on the Order of Merit are competing.
“Dylan Naidoo uses the method called DECADE golf which finds the widest parts of the fairways and you try to play it to the widest spot. So, for me, on many holes, I used less driver and try to make sure that I hit to the widest spot of the fairways and then from there, play towards the green.
“But I also had a bit of a blunder on 11 and made a bogey, but that hole is so long today that making five there doesn’t feel like a mistake. But my tee shots were solid and I was always in good play and never out of play. I think I could have also made a few more putts but overall, my game was a lot more consistent today.”
His near-perfect 68 was characterised by birdies on the first, the fifth, eighth, 13th and 15th holes, and that solitary drop he made on the par-four 11th. Joining him atop the leaderboard is home-course favourite, Breen. While Breen felt like he didn’t play his best golf on day one, he used his knowledge of the course to great advantage. He made seven birdies on Tuesday but three unwanted bogeys then contaminated his scorecard to leave him at four-under after the first round.
“I am very happy with the start,” said Breen who happens to be a member here. “I think the home course advantage came through today because I didn’t have my best stuff but I putted it well; a bit of confidence in knowing the lines. I know the greens here and it felt like they sped them up a little bit, which played into my hands a little bit. I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.”
While all five players who occupy the summit of the leaderboard after day one played some scintillating golf, Kim was pleased to start his chase to glory with a blemish-free round.
“You know, before the week of the final, you check everything; your money list, you try to get into the top 12,” started Kim, “and there’s that good kind of anxiety. I think I handled it well and I’m happy to have had a good start. In these three-round tournaments, it’s important to start well. I didn’t hit it great but I’m happy that I played a round bogey-free and I made a great up-and-down on the last to save par.”
Five players, Sentanio Minnie, Musiwalo Nethunzwi, LB Bosjoff, Leon Visser and Luke Trocado share sixth, just a single stroke off the pace. The top 12 players at the end of this tournament will earn their Sunshine Tour cards for next season.
By Matthews Mfubu (Fullpage Media and Communications)