He faced the media looking slightly bemused, but Christiaan Basson’s opening round of six-under-par 66 in the South African Open Championship at Glendower Golf Club left no room for doubt.
He made four birdies and an eagle-three on the 500-metre (547-yard) 15th to move into the early round one lead, one stroke clear of 2011 Masters champion Charl Schwartzel.
“It’s a special feeling,” said Basson about leading his national open championship, “but seeing your name on the leaderboard while you’re playing makes it tough to maintain focus, but you have to just focus on the job at hand.”
And he certainly focused well: “It’s nice to not have a bogey on the card. I just tried to play percentage golf out there and managed to make a couple of birdies and a nice eagle,” he said. “I drove it just left of the fairway on 15. I had a four-iron in and striped it right of the flag and the slope took it towards the hole and it ended up two feet from the pin.”
For Basson, who has not finished better than a share of 37th in the South African Open Championship, this kind of start is just what the doctor ordered. “I think it takes some pressure off to get a good score for your first round, because it’s important to get off to a start, otherwise you are fighting to stay in it the whole time,” he said. “But leading is also a bit of added pressure, from the other side of things.”
Two shots behind Basson and one behind Schwartzel on four-under-par 68 were Steve Surry and Simon Dyson of England, together with South Africa’s Warren Abery, while Sweden’s Johan Carlsson, Alejandro Canizares of Spain and England’s James Morrison joined James Kamte who won the BMG Classic at Glendower in 2011 on three-under in an early share of sixth.