SERENGETI ESTATES, Kempton Park – Jaco Ahlers’ love for the Tour Championship and Serengeti Estates was clear to see as he opened with a six-under-par 66 to lead the first round of this Sunshine Tour season-ending tournament by a single stroke on Thursday.
Ahlers didn’t drop a single shot on a windy opening day and with some tough pin placements to test this field of the leading available professionals within the top 50 on the Sunshine Tour’s Luno Order of Merit.
The trio of Casey Jarvis, Keenan Davidse and JJ Senekal are one shot behind him. Jarvis is again hunting a maiden Sunshine Tour title in his rookie season, and less than a week after shooting only the second 59 in Sunshine Tour history.
It’s been a busy season for Ahlers as he’s divided his time between the Sunshine Tour and Asia, and he’d love nothing more than to claim a victory at Serengeti this week.
“I didn’t play much in South Africa, but I finished third in the SDC Championship which secured my place in this field. This is a tournament I just love and want to win, so this is a good start,” he said.
“It’s a good golf course. The wind was blowing and there were a few tough pin placements, but the course was also soft which helps with the scoring. I’m really happy I didn’t make a bogey.”
Behind him, Jarvis is once again near the top of the leaderboard in what has been a stellar rookie season on the Sunshine Tour where he’s challenged for a maiden title on several occasions.
“I’m getting more comfortable in this position now and just want to keep learning. I didn’t think I’d be here playing in a Tour Championship in my rookie season and I’m really proud of myself for achieving that,” he said.
“There was a bit of wind the whole day – probably about a club-and-a-half. I played well. I struggled a bit with my wedges but I’m happy with my start. I rolled in the putts I needed to make.”
And Davidse was also more than happy with his opening round as he’s struggling with bronchitis and is on medication this week.
“I’m quite exhausted, so I’m really excited about my round today. I don’t have any expectations. Today I was just focused on whether I could finish the round,” he said. – Michael Vlismas