Alpheus thinks there’s something about Irene

Alpheus Kelapile continued his infatuation with Irene Country Club on Thursday when he fired a five-under-par 67 to share the first round lead in the R100,000 Sunshine Big Easy Tour event being played there.

“I love this course,” he said. “Every time I play it, I end up shooting under par.”

He shared the lead with rookie Tyrone Ryan, and Attie Schwartzel, the brother of Masters champion Charl, was a further stroke back.

Kelapile lost his Sunshine Tour card last year, and is eligible for the Sunshine Big Easy Tour presented by Stonehage by virtue of his top 30 finish in the Vusi Ngubeni Strokeplay played in Johannesburg in January.

Also eligible are players who received their cards at the Sunshine Tour 2011 Qualifying School played in Bloemfontein last year, and those who finished from 71st to 150th on the 2010 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit.

Kelapile, who has enjoyed the course since it became the pre-qualifying track for the Alfred Dunhulll Championship, said: “Everything about my game was great today. I hit all the fairways, and was leaving myself with short putts.”

He started on the 10th, and picked up two birdies on 14 and 15. He made three in a row around the turn on 17, 18 and one. He dropped his only shot of the day at four, but he picked it up again with a birdie on the closing 517-metre par-five ninth.

“I missed out on the top 30 in the first event,” said Kelapile of his finish at the opening event at Crown Mines, “so I’m pleased to be in this position now. I’m very happy with a 67.”

Like Kelapile, Ryan also putted well: “I didn’t have any putt longer than about 12 or 13 feet,” he said. “I nearly holed it on the seventh, hit it to about two feet, so that was nice.”

Albert Pistorius, Reggie Adams and Derik Ferreira shared fourth on three-under 69, with nine players on two-under 70 in a share of seventh.

Adams was another player who found that success on the greens was the key: “My putting helped me out, because I wasn’t hitting the ball that well,” he said.

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