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2nd February 2023

Harvey leads SA challenge in Cape Town

CAPE TOWN –A rare change of equipment benefitted South Africa’s Jared Harvey as he opened with a five-under-par 67 that placed him one stroke off the lead of Spain’s Manuel Elvira after Thursday’s first round of the Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open at Royal Cape Golf Club.

Harvey was delighted with a bogey-free start to this Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour co-sanctioned tournament following a round that started in calm conditions and finished in a stiff breeze.

“There was no breeze when we teed off early this morning, but it definitely picked up as the round went on and it was tricky at a stage. I also changed clubs recently which was a big thing for me. I’m not much of a changer. So to have no bogeys does give me confidence,” said Harvey.

At the top of the leaderboard, Elvira also took advantage of the calmer morning conditions and produced a bogey-free 66 which he closed off with three consecutive birdies over the final three holes.

“It’s always nice to start the season with a low round. It’s completely different golf here now in South Africa compared with Spain in the winter. I’ve come from four or five degrees Celsius to 25 degrees. But I’ve always liked playing in the heat because you don’t have to wear layers of clothes. It’s a big adjustment but it’s nice,” he said.

England’s Bradley Bawden joined Harvey with a round of 67. Former Bain’s Whisky Cape Town Open champions Brandon Stone and Benjamin Follett-Smith both started well with rounds of four-under-par 68, while another pair of former champions in Rhys Enoch and Jacques Kruyswijk are five strokes off the lead.

It was certainly a case of the morning field having a distinct advantage. But as Harvey explained, it was also a surprise to tee off at a windstill Royal Cape.

“When you tee off so early and it’s calm, it’s almost a shock to the system. It can be tough because you’re so used to playing in the breeze here and playing those punch shots. So I felt like I needed to take advantage early on.

“When the wind picked up, there were a couple of tough flags tucked behind corners and downwind, and I just felt they really weren’t flags to go for. I just stayed within myself and kept telling myself that it’s not a bad thing to play for the middle of the green and keep the round together. I managed my game really well. On the holes where I could attack, I did. I feel like the course suits me with the demand on accuracy off the tee.”

The opening day was also a rewarding one for England’s Alfie Plant who scored the first hole-in-one of this year’s tournament on the par-three 13th on his way to a four-under-par 68. – Michael Vlismas