Christiaan Bezuidenhout opened with a five-under-par 67 to place him in a six-way tie for the first-round lead of the South African Open as he chases back-to-back victories on the Sunshine Tour and European Tourâ€™s South African Swing.
The winner of last weekâ€™s Alfred Dunhill Championship picked up where he left off at Leopard Creek as he made six birdies and only one bogey at the Gary Player Country Club on Thursday to join fellow South Africans Dean Burmester, Jacques Kruyswijk and Ruan Korb as well as Austriaâ€™s Matthias Schwab and Italian Aron Zemmer in the lead.
â€œI got off to a nice start and turned five under par, then I birdied my 10th hole to get to six under,â€ said Bezuidenhout, who teed off the 10th. But with the nines swapped for this tournament, he faced the more difficult nine as his second nine, and which was compounded by a strong wind which seemed to also put a chill on his putter.
â€œThe putter just went cold. I just couldnâ€™t make the putts coming in. The wind also picked up which made it more tricky. But itâ€™s nice to have a good start and hopefully I can keep the momentum going and put myself in a good position come Sunday.â€
Schwab played with Bezuidenhout and said he fed off the South Africanâ€™s fast start on the first nine.
â€œI just tried to keep up with him. Then it got a little bit windy and I just kept the score together coming in. Overall it was good and itâ€™s nice to be bogey-free,â€ he said after a round of three birdies and an eagle.
The leaders are one stroke clear of Frenchman Matthieu Pavon and South Africaâ€™s Dylan Frittelli. Frittelli also said the wind stopped the momentum he had built up to get to seven under through 10 holes before three bogeys coming in.
â€œIt was a tale of two nines. I played really well on the first nine and everything was just flawless, and then I played poorly on the back. The wind got up which made it tricky. But it was a decent start. As long as Iâ€™m within two or three shots going into the final round I feel like I have a good shot.â€
GolfRSAâ€™s Casey Jarvis and Christiaan Maas both made strong claims for the Freddie Tait trophy as they each opened with rounds of one-over-par 73 to lead the amateur scoring on day one.