By Matthews Mfubu (Fullpage Media and Communications)
Coert Groenewald, Ruan de Smidt and Samuel Simpson each carded rounds of six-under-par 66 on day one of the Altron Big Easy Tour event held at Kyalami Country Club to lead by two shots after Monday’s outing.
This 54-hole event is the seventh tournament of the season and with the first 18 holes done and dusted, all three players were satisfied with their respective efforts in the opening round.
Having started his round from the 10th tee, Groenewald was three-under-par through his first six holes, thanks to birdies on the 10th, 13th and 15th holes. That progress was derailed however, as Groenewald made an unwelcome double-bogey on the par-four 16th. He steadied himself on the next hole before closing off that front nine with a birdie to turn in 32.
Coming home, Groenewald kept things steady, refusing to give away shots, even as birdies were hard to come by. And then it all clicked. A hat-trick of birdies from four through six – his 13th, 14th and 15th holes – solidified what was already a beautiful round of golf. To seal his spot among the top three leading players after day one here at Kyalami, Groenewald closed off with yet another birdie for good measure.
“I played nicely and the greens were really good,” Groenewald remarked. “The wind began to pick up a bit but I could keep my cool and just keep going. I trusted in my abilities to put together a decent score and it happened. I don’t want to lie though; it was a bit tricky on some of the tee shots; the course is tight. It proved difficult to find fairways on some holes but other than that, it was pretty good.”
De Smidt’s round consisted of an eagle on four, five birdies and a solitary drop.
“It was a good round,” said De Smidt. “I was quite happy with the putter, especially on the front nine. The eagle helped a lot because in the first three or four holes, I didn’t hit one green and when I had the opportunity to make an eagle, it brought me into it and I could play my game from there. But, it was an excellent round of golf.”
Ryan Tipping finished the first round solo third, on five-under, while members of the Papwa Sewgolum Class Franklin Manchest and Makhetha Mazibuko along with Matthew Rushton, DK Kim and Ricky Hendler share the fifth spot on the leaderboard on four-under-par.