From Sunshine Tour
Jonathan Broomhead, in his maiden season on the Sunshine Tour, roared to the top of the leaderboard after the first round of the SunBet Challenge hosted by Sun Sibaya on Wednesday when he shot a dazzling eight-under-par 63 at Umhlali Country Club, describing it as “just one of those rounds that happen now and again”.
Broomhead, who is contending for first place on the Fortress Rookie of the Year standings, began his round on the 10th hole and made the perfect start by birdieing the par-five 10th and par-three 11th holes. He also picked up a shot at the next par-five, the 13th, and he collected a fourth birdie on the par-four 17th.
The 22-year-old then began the front nine in rampant fashion with three successive birdies and then sealed his best-ever round on the Sunshine Tour with an eighth birdie on the par-four seventh hole.
It’s certainly not the first time the Durban-born Broomhead has played Umhlali CC and he said local knowledge helped, while conceding pretty much all aspects of his game were on-song on Wednesday.
“I’m definitely delighted. I chatted to myself yesterday [Tuesday] and said I would be more than happy with three-under-par in the first round. That’s a good round here, you’re not trying to shoot six or seven-under to stay in touch at Umhlali.
“But it was just one of those rounds that happen now and again and you just roll with it. I played a lot here as a junior and an amateur, so I understand the layout and I know the decent spots to hit the ball and where you must not hit it.
“The length of this course is not the longest (5,943 metres) and I only hit two drivers today. But it’s one of those layouts where you have to position yourself very well. If you’re on the wrong side of the fairway, then you might not have a clear shot to the green. You’ve got to hit it in the right areas and miss in the right areas as well.
“But it was a very good day. I putted really nicely and made a couple of long ones, which always helps. I could see the lines nicely and I was very comfortable on the greens. I hit the ball just as good, I was decent off the tee and I never really got into much trouble,” Broomhead said.
There were also very good rounds of 67 from Keegan Mclachlan, Robin Williams and Christiaan Burke, who shared second place on four-under-par.
Williams was one of only two players to notch an eagle on the par-five 13th and he was going along very well on five-under with three holes to play when he bogeyed his penultimate hole, the par-four eighth, to slip back into a share of second.
Williams is also contending for the Fortress Rookie of the Year title, with his victory in the Fortress Invitational three weeks ago at Glendower lifting him into first place on 644.72 points. Gerhard Pepler, who shot 72 on Wednesday, is second on 626.28, while Broomhead is third on 459.40.
“There’s a very nice incentive from Fortress [R200 000] for being the top rookie and you always want to do that in your first year, but it definitely doesn’t change my approach. If I can win like Gerhard and Robin have done, before the end of the season, then I’ll be in with a good shout.
“But it’s never easy winning and I’m not putting myself under any pressure. I’ll just stick to my processes, my game is in a very good spot and I’m comfortable on the greens. I just need to give myself chances to win,” Broomhead said.