ST FRANCIS BAY (Eastern Cape) – South Africa’s Pieter Moolman and Shaun Norris successfully negotiated a tricky day at St Francis Links to share the lead in Thursday’s first round of the SDC Championship following their rounds of seven-under-par 65.
The wind was an ever-present reality on day one, with only the severity changing throughout the day.
Although they played at opposite ends of the draw, both Moolman and Norris started their rounds equally strong.
Moolman holed out for eagle at the first and made two birdies thereafter, while Norris opened with three straight birdies.
“It was a dream start,” Moolman said, and one which reflected his love for this Jack Nicklaus layout.
“I like this golf course. It’s one of my favourites in South Africa and I always look forward to playing it. On the first hole I just hit a really good second shot, but where the flag is you can’t really see much, so I figured it was close and when I got up there it was in the hole. I’m very happy with that start.”
Norris was just as pleased with his start to this Sunshine Tour and DP World Tour co-sanctioned event.
“I’m pretty happy with everything. I’m hitting the ball nicely. The conditions weren’t easy but I handled it well. I just hit the ball well, gave myself great opportunities and took advantage of those. But I always love coastal conditions. It just sort of balances out the field because it’s about who controls the ball the best. So I’m happy with where I’m standing.”
Their nearest challenger is England’s Daniel Brown whose 66 was a remarkable effort considering he only arrived at St Francis Links late on Wednesday and had no practice round before going out early on Thursday morning.
“I missed my flight on Monday in Frankfurt and couldn’t fly till Tuesday night. I only arrived at the golf course at about 4:30pm on Wednesday and went straight to the physios. So it wasn’t the best preparation but, it’s a crazy game,” he said.
South Africans Wilco Nienaber and Malcolm Mitchell as well as Germany’s Nick Bachem and Scotland’s Connor Syme all finished the day on five under par. – Michael Vlismas