DULLSTROOM, Mpumalanga – The sheer beauty of the Highland Gate Golf and Trout Estate was enough to inspire Combrinck Smit to take a one-stroke lead in Thursday’s first round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf.
Smit opened with a five-under-par 67 and tops the leaderboard ahead of a group of four players on four under including rookie professional Casey Jarvis, Anthony Michael, Wynand Dingle and Chile’s Matias Calderon.
This is the second time in Smit’s career that he leads a Sunshine tour event. The last time was in 2018 when he led going into the final round of the Eye of Africa PGA Championship only to finish second behind Calderon, the very man just one shot behind him on the leaderboard this week.
“Coming to Highland Gate is always a pleasure. The views are spectacular and the course is very appealing to the eye. I especially love the contrast between the green grass of the course and then the brown veld. The firm fairways here also work for me. But it’s always a good test with its quick greens and tough flag positions,” said Smit.
Smit took full advantage of his strong driving game and picked up shots on all but one of the par fives.
“I really took good advantage of the par fives. All my best drives were on the par fives and having short irons into the greens also helped.”
With two rounds still to go in this event, Smit is well aware of the challenge that lies ahead.
“I haven’t been at the top of a leaderboard in a while, and this is only the first round. There is still a lot of golf to be played on this course. Hopefully I can make a few more putts and keep doing what I’m doing.”
Jarvis, formerly South Africa’s number one amateur before he turned professional, will be delighted with his 68 in only his second Sunshine Tour event this season. – Michael Vlismas