Colin Nel won his first tournament on the Sunshine Tour in the wind-shortened Wild Waves Golf Challenge in August last year. Now he finds himself leading the R700,000 Sun Fish River Sun after his opening five-under-par 67 on Wednesday – with high winds forecast for the remainder of the week.
So getting seven birdies on his card early in gentle breezes and relatively warm weather was important for Nel, and just two bogeys meant he held an early one-stroke lead over eight other players who also took advantage of the unusual stillness on the Eastern Cape Coast.
“You’ve got to take your opportunities when you get them,” said Nel ahead of the second round during which rain, storms and winds gusting up to 60 kilometres per hour are forecast. “They say the wind is going to pick up already this afternoon, but it doesn’t seem to be coming yet. I’m sure it will be there. If it’s not strong, it still makes you think about things on this golf course – that’s for sure. So getting out early and taking advantage of the weather definitely is a bonus.”
He started his round on the 10th, and, although he made three birdies, he also dropped two shots – one each on the 15th and 18th. “I just missed the greens there and didn’t manage to chip and putt well enough to save par there,” he said.
Putting is what has got him to the top of the first-round leaderboard after his final-round 76 in last week’s tournament in Port Elizabeth left him in a share of 32nd. “I’ve been struggling with my putting quite a bit lately,” he said. “I worked on it on these few days off and it came right today. Making a few good putts keeps your momentum going and gets your score going. I’ve been hitting the ball really nicely and have been for the last few weeks and just haven’t been able to score.”