Bradford’s bad luck keeps him from BMG Classic lead

Bradford Vaughan saw his vision of a great round evaporate in a run of bad luck on Friday in the opening round of the R600,000 BMG Classic at Glendower Golf Club.

He had raced to eight-under-par through 12 holes with successive eagles on one and two after starting his round in not particularly sensational fashion from the 10th with three birdies to the turn.

When he followed up the eagle spree with a birdie on the third, he looked set to challenge the 61 set on the 6,914-metre Glendower layout by Allan Henning in 1976.

But he bogeyed the fourth and fifth and made double-bogey on six to see his lead disappear, and a three-putt par on the 477-metre eighth rubbed salt in the wound as he finished on four-under-par 68 in third place.

He was two shots behind early pace-setter Dawie van der Walt and one behind playing partner Ulrich van den Berg who kept his head while Vaughan was having his extraordinary six-hole run for a 67.

“At least I’m still at four-under,” said Vaughan, who was able to be somewhat philosophical about his fate. “I’m playing well – I’m hitting the ball better than I have in a while,” he said.

He hit his tee shot on four to under the lip of a fairway bunker and had to take his medicine there, and then three-putted the fifth for his bogey there.

“On six, I hit a great tee shot, but it was half a yard short, and it rolled down the embankment into the water,” he said of his double bogey.

But, as he pointed out, he is still in a position to challenge for his first victory since he won the Limpopo Classic in November 2006.

He will have to deal with Van der Walt, who is determined to keep putting together under-par rounds in preparation for the stern test of the PGA Tour School. “The more of these I produce,” he said, “the better. Every good round that I play just gives me a little bit more confidence. I’m glad I started to play well again.”

Like Vaughan, he started his round on the 10th, and had racked up two birdies by the time he reached the 15th. But a bogey five on the 403-metre 16th checked his progress momentarily.

He got the show back on the road with a birdie on 18 and then two more in quick succession on one and two. On his way home, he picked up two more shots with birdies on four and nine.

There was a group of five players on three-under 69, including defending champion Brandon Pieters and last week’s Sunshine Tour winner Darren Fichardt, who won the Suncoast Classic.

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