Memorable 61 at Humewood earns Couvra lead in NMB Championship

Feb 22, 2024 | Featured, Sunshine Tour

By Michael Vlismas for Sunshine Tour

It was a day of firsts for Frenchman Martin Couvra as he played the famous Humewood links for the first time and made three eagles in one round for the first time on his way to leading the first round of the NMB Championship on Thursday.

Couvra took advantage of the largely benign conditions when he teed off and posted an 11-under-par 61 to lead this Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour event by two strokes.

South Africa’s Neil Schietekat as well as Swede Bjorn Akesson and Australian Hayden Hopewell are his nearest challengers following their opening rounds of nine under.

Couvra is no stranger to golf success in South Africa. The young Frenchman made history when he became the first player to win the South African Stroke Play Championship, the Proudfoot Trophy (the 36-hole qualifying tournament for the SA Stroke Play), and the South African Amateur Championship in full regulation play in the same year, claiming the triple crown of South African amateur golf in 2023.

He was in the same dominant mood on Thursday as he signed for a round of five birdies and three eagles, including back-to-back eagles on the 15th and 16th holes.

“It was just perfect today. I played really well. I’m very happy to have this round in the book. It was just amazing. I’ve never had three eagles in the same round,” he said.

Couvra has looked in good form in South Africa with his finishes of tied 12th in December’s Investec South African Open and then tied sixth in the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open earlier this month.

And he certainly enjoyed his first competitive round on Humewood.

“I like links courses and this one is perfect. It changes quite a bit with the different winds here. I didn’t have too much wind though. The conditions were perfect.”

Behind him, Schietekat also admitted the wind was forgiving enough to allow him to take advantage on a layout he is equally fond of.

“It was pretty good. A couple of putts went in and it was a good day. I believe the wind is coming though so that will be fun and games. But I do enjoy this golf course. You’ve got to play different shots and run a lot of them on the ground. This is an amazing golf course. It plays like a true links and I’ve always enjoyed coming back here.”

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