Callum Mowat posted his best score as a professional as his 10-under-par 62 was by some distance the lead after the first round on Wednesday of the R700,000 Sun Windmill Challenge at Bloemfontein Golf Club.
He carded an eagle and eight birdies on his way to a four-stroke advantage over Jean-Paul Strydom and Anthony Michael, and, while that doesn’t top the 60 he once shot as an amateur, it was good enough to put a smile on his face after a horror run of four missed cuts in his last five tournaments.
“Some things just weren’t going my way, and that made me feel as if I was playing badly,” he said. “But I did know that I was hitting the ball well, so I just had to keep patient. And it all happened today.”
He started his round on the 10th of the 6,678-metre Bloemfontein Golf Club, and was soon into his work with birdies on 12 and 13. He followed that with an eagle on 14: “It’s one of the tougher tee shots on the course, so I just focused on a point and hit it down the fairway,” he said. “I hit a nine-iron just left of the flag and then chipped it in. So I thought, here we go, let’s ride this wave.”
It was a wave that took him all the way home with six more birdies. “One of things my coach and I came up with was to focus on something outside the tournament itself while things have been tough,” he said. “So we’ve decided that it would be good to try and get 18 birdies in the tournament, and that gives me something external of the pressure of trying to do well to focus on.
“I’ve set myself six birdies per round, and that’s usually the sort of score that is right up there. So if I make those kinds of numbers, I should be in with a shout.”
If he can continue keeping errors off his card now, he will make life difficult for his pursuers: A further shot back from the pair sharing second are Theunis Spangenberg, Colin Nel, Makhetha Mazibuko and Rourke van der Spuy, all on five-under.
Mazibuko is on his home track, and another couple of rounds like his first would put him in the frame, especially if Mowat in unable to keep the roll going. But he’s got his mind around the problem he had. “I’ve just tried to block out the fact that it’s just been one or two bad holes that have been leading to bad scores,” he said. “I had a good positive mind-set and I just enjoyed it. It was good to move from playing golf that was not so good to just keeping working at things and trying my best. I had to be open to the possibility of playing like this during the times when I wasn’t playing that well.”