Bryce booms to Platinum Classic lead

Bryce Easton flew around the nine-hole setup of Mooinooi Golf Club in 63 strokes on Thursday to claim the early lead during round one of the Platinum Classic.

 

The 26-year-old looked back on his first 18 with satisfaction after stretching out a two-shot lead over the morning field.

 

“My game is on its way back and shooting 63 is a huge boost,” said the Durbanite, who made eight birdies during the round.

 

Plenty of hard work during the quiet winter months was rewarded on Thursday when Easton made crucial saves to navigate Mooinooi without a bogey.

 

“I’ve been grinding away, and I’ve been playing well for stretches, but not over a full 18, which kills your momentum. Today I holed out well and handled things better, which just kept it going,” he said.

 

The day flew by for the two-time Sunshine Tour winner, who had an outward nine of 31.

 

“It’s always good to start with a birdie. I hit a good shot to three feet on the par-three fourth hole, and also a gap wedge to a foot at the ninth. Short putts for birdie make things a bit less stressful,” he smiled.

 

Due to its nine-hole setup, Mooinooi uses alternating tee boxes to differentiate between the two loops. Easton, who finished tied 19th at the Platinum Classic last year, was happy to be back on a lush track after playing on solid, dry courses for most of the Highveld winter.

 

“I’ve always enjoyed Mooinooi, lovely little course. The change in tee boxes make the nines play quite differently and the course and it’s in such good condition that it helps your attitude. You know that the greens are pure and the course is prime, so it’s exciting to tee up, he said.

 

Easton currently ranks 19th on the Asian Tour Order of Merit and will return for the Venetian Macau Open in October. With the big summer events of both the Sunshine and Asian Tours looming, he’s picked a good time to start peaking.

 

“I’ve been trying for the last few weeks to grind into some momentum and 63 today is massive. I feel pretty good about posting it as we head towards summer,” he said.

 

Neil Schietekat, Jaco Ahlers and Doug McGuigan shared second on a seven-under-par total.

 

Over the last four months Ahlers and McGuigan have campaigned on the Canadian Tour and both made the top 50 on the final Order of Merit. Since returning to the Sunshine Tour, neither has finished outside the top 25 at their last two tournaments: the Wild Waves Challenge and Vodacom Origins of Golf Parys.

 

Stalwarts Desvonde Botes and Jean Hugo shared fifth on six-under-par. 

 

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