Beyers Smith did the important things right on Tuesday to take the first round lead in the R100,000 Sunshine Big Easy Tour tournament presented by Stonehage at Wingate Park Country Club.
He held a one-stroke lead with his four-under-par 68 over Callie Swart and Irvin Mazibuko, with Johan de Beer, Pieter Moolman, Jeff Inglis and Coenie Bester all on two-under-par 70 in a share of fourth.
“My driver and my putter worked well today,” he laughed. “From last week at the Polokwane Classic, I was starting to hit the ball quite nicely and I kept it going nicely from that.”
He was one of many players who found putting on the fast and true greens of Wingate Park to his liking. “The greens are quick but good,” he said. “If you hit it on line, it goes in, but if you miss your line, it’s not going in. This pace is much better than having to hit the ball.”
As always, putting is an important part of scoring well, but driving gets players into a position to set up the putts, and Smith was happy with the way he was hitting it off the tee. “I missed just two fairways the whole day, and the fairways run like crazy, so I was chipping and putting the whole day,” he said.
He started each of his nines with successive birdies on the first two holes, added a bogey on the seventh and the 16th, and, in a perfectly symmetrical card, closed each nine with birdies.
Swart plays a lot of his social golf on the course – “I make a bit of money in private bets,” he said – and he took advantage of his intimate knowledge of the greens on his way to his 69. After two bogeys nullified his two birdies on the opening nine, he made three birdies in a row from 13 to 15.
Mazibuko was hot on the front nine, turning in four-under-par, but, after a bogey on 12, he was unable to get it going again.