SHARE ON: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']

21st March 2024

Van Der Spuy claims early lead in Stella Artois Players Championship

DAINFERN, Johannesburg – Rourke van der Spuy set the tone for what should be another low-scoring Stella Artois Players Championship with his opening nine-under-par 63 to lead the incomplete first round of this Sunshine Tour event by a single stroke at Dainfern Golf Estate on Thursday.

Van Der Spuy’s putting was superb as he rolled in nine birdies – starting with back-to-back birdies over his opening two holes – and didn’t make a single bogey.

His nearest challengers are Heinrich Bruiners, Daniel van Tonder, Haydn Porteous and Michael Hollick following their rounds of 64. Luca Filippi, who challenged for this title last year before Kyle Barker claimed the victory, is once again in contention after opening with a round of seven-under-par 65.

The round was suspended at 17:06 due to dangerous conditions. The first round will resume at 07:15 on Friday morning, with 24 players still to complete their rounds.

But even before he teed off on Thursday, Van Der Spuy was well aware that it was once again going to take some low scoring to win this week.

It was at this tournament last year where Casey Jarvis shot a 59 in the third round to equal the lowest round in Sunshine Tour history, and scores of 29 over nine holes are also not uncommon.

“The tone has been set in this tournament over the last few years so you know what to expect. Before I teed off there were already a couple of six-, seven- and eight-unders up on the leaderboard. And then with what Casey did last year, you just know that it’s out there,” said Van Der Spuy.

It’s certainly a golf course that suits Van Der Spuy’s eye, but the critical differentiator for him on Thursday was his putting.

“The difference today was I just made a few putts. That’s normally my Achilles heel. I made a nice putt on the first and birdied the second, so I got off to a good start which opens up the floodgates a little bit. If I can make a couple of putts like I did, then that’s when low scores are out there.

“It’s also one of those courses where I like every shot off the tee boxes. You know that if you hit good tee shots, the par fives are reachable. I didn’t make any eagles today, but you know there are eagles out there. And the greens are just so solid, so it’s just an all-round good experience if you’re hitting it in the right places. I hit a lot of fairways and those I did miss, I was still in position. So I really set myself up well off my drives today. It’s just a matter of keeping the ball in play like I did and giving myself as many chances as possible.” – Michael Vlismas.