On a day on which play was delayed by two-and-a-half hours because of morning fog, it was pretty clear that Jacques Blaauw has found the key to his game as he carded a six-under-par 66 on Wednesday to share the early lead of the R600,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf presented by Samsung at Pezula Estate and Spa.
Blaauw made a single bogey in his round, while co-leader Shaun Norris continued a return to the kind of form which won him the inaugural Africa Open in 2008 and the Nashua Masters in 2011with a bogey-free card on a day which turned out to be good for scoring.
With some players going to have to complete their first rounds on Thursday, the lead may be threatened, but Blaauw was hopeful he would still head the leaderboard. “I hope 66 is pretty tough to catch,” he said.
“I played solidly. I made the one mistake on the par-four seventh which was a stupid three-putt, but I’m happy with the round. I hit it pretty well and made quite a few putts,” he added.
With second-place finishes in the Investec Cup, the Investec Royal Swazi Open and the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open to his name this year, Blaauw is looking for a single step up on the rostrum so he can go some way towards emulating his breakthrough season last year when he took his maiden victory on the Sunshine Tour and then followed it up with two more wins.
“It’s hard work that’s starting to pay off now,” he said. “Golf’s a funny game: You can’t really say that you’re going to play well over the next couple of weeks, but if you’re building towards something, you can feel when it’s starting to pay off, and it’s nice to have that feedback from all the effort you put in.”
He’s been concentrating on working on his short game. “I’ve been seeing Robbie Stewart for putting and when I went to the US recently for the Web.com Tour Qualifying School First Stage, I played with someone who plays on the PGA Tour and he gave me a couple of pointers about what he works on,” he said.
Zambian Madalitso Muthiya joined the lead late in the evening before play was halted for the day when he completed a bogey-free round of 66 – one which his caddie said could have been nine-under had he made some putts to complement his great short-iron play.