Adilson’s putter sees him to top of Africa Open leaderboard

Adilson Da Silva started round one of the Africa Open Golf Challenge on Thursday after the wind had abated and it showed as he raced to six-under-par through nine holes.

Earlier, there was a two-hour and 47-minute delay as high winds gusting up to 70 kilometres an hour caused play to be suspended as the morning field battled the conditions which saw last year’s runner up Tjaart van der Walt knocked off his feet by the fierce south-westerly while lining up a putt at the par-four fifth.

Only Jaco van Zyl was able to deal adequately with the wind, and his 66 seemed destined to be the first-round lead. “You know, all I could think about over those last three holes was how much I wanted to get off the golf course,” Van Zyl said. “The wind was really, really brutal out there, especially over the front nine. It was a struggle to stand and keep your balance over your putts, so the suspension was a good call.”

Good for Da Silva too, and he got out to the best of starts with three consecutive birdies. His progress was barely disturbed by a par on the fourth, and he reeled off two more birdies on five and six.

“I missed a little metre-and-a-half putt for birdie on seven, too,” laughed Da Silva, “and then my putt on nine was on its way when the siren sounded to end play – and it went in for birdie!”

Da Silva, who has 10 Sunshine Tour titles to his credit, but is chasing his first win on the European Tour, had been solid if unspectacular at the Africa Open recently, with finishes of tied 18th in 2012 and he had a share of 26th in 2011.

He conceded he got the better side of the draw, but he also knew that his putting had clicked to give him the kind of halfway score that players dream of: “I definitely got a bit of luck there,” he said. “Not a bit, a lot of luck. And we started on the first which was downwind and I managed to get a birdie, so it was a positive start.

“I hit a good tee shot on two and holed a 15-footer for birdie, and that’s when I thought ‘Whoa, this is working!’ I’ve been struggling with my putting, but today it was really good. I couldn’t believe it, because my putting has been very ‘iffy’ for a long time and they suddenly started to drop – it’s very nice!”

Play was called off at 6.55pm and the first round will be completed Friday morning, starting at 7am, followed immediately by the second round.

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