KATHU, Northern Cape – It’s only his third tournament in South Africa and Englishman Bradley Bawden has already fallen in love with the country and the Sunshine Tour, and it showed as he shared a four-way tie for the lead after Thursday’s first round of the Sishen Classic at the Kalahari Country Club.
Bawden opened with a bogey-free six-under-par 66 to share the lead with South Africa’s Pieter Moolman, Ockie Strydom and Deon Germishuys. Strydom is a previous winner on this golf course in the 2019 Vodacom Origins of Golf.
They are one stroke clear of the in-form Louis Albertse who has top-10s in his previous two tournaments, Malcolm Mitchell and Danie van Niekerk.
“It’s my first time here and this golf course is really nice,” said Bawden, who came through the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School and is playing in only his third tournament on the Tour.
“I’m still very fresh in South Africa and enjoying it. The Sunshine Tour is a growing tour and I see a lot of opportunity out here. The schedule is great and you play a lot of good golf courses, so I just feel you’re going to improve out here. That’s why I decided to come over and play,” said the Essex-based golfer.
And he certainly enjoyed his first look at this golf course.
“You’ve got to hit the ball well and the greens are really rolling nicely. It’s not a course where you just tee it up and rip it down there. You’ve got to think where you’re going to leave the ball and have to put it in the right spots otherwise you’ll be in trouble. It’s nice to play a course where you have to use your brain.”
Moolman was happy with his start on a golf course that has always challenged him. “I’ve always struggled here. On this course you can hit good shots and get some bad luck. But I think most of my shots that were a bit off still worked out fine, so that was a big help,” he said.
Behind them, Albertse made yet another good start for the third consecutive tournament. Albertse has started the season extremely well with a finish of ninth in the Lombard Insurance Classic and second in the FBC Zimbabwe Open.
“It’s always nice starting a tournament well and gaining confidence as you go on. The putter is working for me at the moment, and that gets the momentum going through the rounds. This is such a good golf course, and it tests your game while also rewarding good golf,” he said. – Michael Vlismas