Chris turns it around on The Links

Chris Swanepoel turned a difficult start on Wednesday into an early share of the round one lead in the R600,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf Final at The Links Fancourt.

He bogeyed the first two holes on the tough 6,930-metre par-73 layout, before chipping in for birdie on eight, and making eagle on nine to turn in one-under-par.

He then made three more birdies on his way in to card a fine 69 to share the lead with hometown hero Branden Grace.

“I was trying to wake up a bit at the beginning,” laughed Swanepoel. “I wasn’t doing too much wrong: I hit a shot right over the flag on one and I couldn’t believe it went over the green. I hit a good chip and I hit a good putt and just missed it – that’s the way golf goes.”

After the chip in on eight, he took driver and three-wood on the 557-metre ninth. “It was a good three-wood, and a good driver,” he said, “and a nice little putt.” When pressed, he admitted the putt was “about 15 feet”.

He had a big finish as well, capping off his birdies on 12 and 15 with a fine birdie on the 563-metre par-five 18th: “I actually made a pretty good four there,” he said. “I hit it in the bush on the right and just chipped it out. I had seven-iron to the green – 171 yards – and I hit a good shot and made a good putt.”

Swanepoel, who won the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open for his third Sunshine Tour victory, got married four months ago, and is only really feeling as if he is back into the kind of routine that won him the title in April.

“I’ve been practicing pretty hard for the last three weeks,” he said. “I’m just trying to enjoy it again. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not stressful getting married, but it’s a lot of weight on your shoulders when you have a wife and a new house and everything that comes with that.”

Swanepoel and Grace held an early one-stroke edge over Neil Schietekat and Ulrich van den Berg, with Michiel Bothma, Allan Versfeld, Jake Redman and Desvonde Botes on two-under.

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