Heinrich Bruiners carded his second-successive four-under-par 68 on Wednesday to take a two-stroke lead after the first round of the R600,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Euphoria Golf Estate.
The 25-year-old from George had to qualify for the tournament, a task he completed with some ease with his first 68 which topped the qualifying round by two strokes. And he found that pretty good preparation for his second 68, which gave him that valuable two-stroke edge over Ulrich van den Berg, Desvonde Botes and Dean Burmester.
“Yesterday was a nice practice round,” he said. “I used to practice a lot at Fancourt, especially on Montagu from the back tees, and this is very similar.
“It’s obviously not the same look, but the design is probably more or less the same. And I practiced a lot of iron shots there, so I’m used to hitting six-iron, or five-iron – all the long irons. It helped, because I think I hit 13 out of 14 fairways today as my driver was on key, so I had shots in to the greens.
“I’m very happy with my round today,” he added.
After a horrific motor accident left him with a broken femur and out of action for the whole of 2011, he started to regain some form at last year’s Lion of Africa Cape Town Open. He regained his Sunshine Tour card with a second place in the Vusi Ngubeni Qualifying School, and earned his first top-10 finish as a professional in June’s Polokwane Classic.
So he has much to be happy about. “I spent time with my family recently during our break,” he said, “and I said to them I was very happy with the six month back on tour. I’ve worked hard, and even today, when I saw my name on the leaderboard, I didn’t tell myself to slow down. Now, I enjoy seeing my name up there because I think of all the hard work I’ve been doing. I deserve to be there.”
Van den Berg and Botes had morning starts, and used all their experience to cope with the par-72 Annika Sorenstam-designed 7,040-metre Euphoria layout which proved a tough nut to crack with speedy greens and some tough par-threes.
“Two of the par-threes were playing over 220 metres,” said Van den Berg. “I leaned on a five-wood for each of them. And as for the greens – they are just lightning-fast, so it’s difficult to leave your ball under the hole.”
Botes found the course tough – but challenging. “There was a tricky wind and a lot of cross-wind holes,” he said, “so it was hard to get the ball close to the hole, and the greens were extremely difficult – very slopey and quick. But it’s a lot nicer than playing really easy greens.”
Burmester was off in the afternoon, and found the greens similarly challenging. “The grain sometimes goes against the slope,” said Burmester, “and so an uphill putt can seem almost flat. And the two halves of the course on either side of the river seems to have greens doing things in exactly the opposite direction.”
Bruiners felt stimulated by the challenges posed by the greens, and by the course as a whole too. “I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” he said. “I’m looking forward to making a few putts as well!”