Alex Haindl’s five-under-par 67 in the opening round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Simola Golf and Country Estate was good enough for an early share of the lead in the R600,000 Sunshine Tour event.
It also served to confirm in his own mind that his horrible start to the year is well and truly over as he shared the lead with Neil Schietekat, one stroke clear of Jacques Blaauw, and with qualifiers Clifford Howes and CJ du Plessis in a share of fourth on three-under.
“I started the year off badly,” said Haindl. “I was working on the swing and I was really down on confidence. But it’s been building up steadily, and the last few weeks have been better, so I’m happy with the way it’s been going.”
A share of second behind Adilson Da Silva in the Zambia Sugar Open and another top 10 in last week’s Lombard Insurance Classic in Swaziland which was won by Merrick Bremner certainly show that the 30-year-old from Bloemfontein is on the right track.
It’s been more than seven years since his only win on the Sunshine Tour, so he would be happy to use the confidence he has to get his second.
“This round is basically the same as I’ve been playing for the last couple of weeks,” he said. “Just today, I maybe didn’t make as many mistakes as I did last week. I made stupid mistakes – thinking errors – so today I just kept the blemishes off the card.”
It was a windy morning which kept scoring in check. Last year’s tournament was won at 15-under-par, so it’s possible to go really low on the Jack Nicklaus-designed course.
One of the players who finished on 15-under last year – he lost to champion Ryan Cairns in a play-off – was Vaughn Groenewald, who started steadily this year with a two-under 70.