JOHANNESBURG, Gauteng (21 October) â€“ Rupert Kaminski and Riekus Nortje both birdied the par-five 18thhole to roar into a share of the lead in the first round of the Blair Atholl Championship delivered by The Courier Guy on Thursday.
The Johannesburg-based pair were both off in Group 4 from the first tee and both shot six-under-par 66s to lead Heinrich Bruiners by one stroke in the R1.25 million event.
While Nortje is a relative veteran in his eighth season on the Sunshine Tour, the 25-year-old Kaminski only earned his card in 2019.
And Kaminski actually birdied the par-three 17th as well, having overcome the frustration of a double-bogey five on the short eighth hole.
The Parkview golfer three-putted from 15 feet after missing the green right and chipping too firmly.
The short stick has been a problem for him lately, but on Thursday it was a rare mis-step on a day when he generally putted superbly.
â€œThe putter was behaving really nicely and I made a lot of birdie putts. The challenge with the Blair Atholl course is that we donâ€™t often play on a course this long,â€ Kaminski said. â€œSo the par-fives are not necessarily the holes youâ€™re going to score on, so my nine birdies were mostly because of my putter.
â€œI didnâ€™t hit the ball that great, but I managed my game nicely and hit the ball in the right spots. Game-management is very important here because if you go for the flags and push too hard, you can find yourself in very awkward situations.
â€œIâ€™ve been playing really nice golf the last two/three months and a low score has been there, but Iâ€™ve struggled with my putter. So today will give me a lot of confidence, although the three-putt on eight was really annoying,â€ Kaminski said.
At 7527 metres long, the Gary Player designed Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate is a unique challenge when it comes to Highveld courses but Bruiners, the talented 34-year-old from Fancourt, also stamped his mark on the day with his bogey-free 67.
For spectacular finishes though, nothing could beat Kyle Barker.
Blair Atholl is also unusual in that the front â€˜nineâ€™ is actually just eight holes and Barker, who started his round on the ninth, aced the 178m par-three with an eight-iron to catapult himself to four-under-par and a share of fourth place with Jared Harvey, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Chris Cannon, Hayden Griffiths and Anton Haig.