The Sunshine Tour’s last event was two months ago and Curlewis, who started on the 10th, had to shake off the rust over the first few holes.
“After eight weeks break to come out and shoot five-under was good fun. There was an eagle and a double bogey, along with some birdies, so my round was a bit of everything,” he said.
He birdied the 10th and 12th, but made a double bogey at the 11th, which left him unsure of his form. When he chipped in for eagle at the par-five 18th it settled the nerves and he played the rest of the round without a dropped shot.
“At the 18th I hit driver and had 200 metres to the flag, which was tucked up just over the water. I pulled my approach a little bit, but had a nice downhill chip and it hit the flag and dropped. I hit some good shots early on, but that chip-in for eagle gave me a real boost going through the turn,” he said.
Over the front nine, which was his second loop, Curlewis shot 33 and moved into second place at the close of the morning field’s play.
“It’s exciting to start all over again after some time off. It’s nice to see the guys and catch up, but the break was good. Normally after the break you’re quite rusty, but I’ve been practicing, and I’m more than happy with five-under today. You’ll have to go a few under every day to stand a chance during the final round, so I can’t complain about this start to the tournament,” he said.
Leading the way was Ulrich van den Berg, who carded an impeccable 64 to lead by three shots.
“I’ve done a nice job today to get myself into contention. I hit some very close shots and then held the round together by staying patient. There are still 36 holes to go and we’ll take it one round and one shot at a time,” he said.
Neil Schietekat was sole third on four-under-par after carding 33 for his second nine.
“I’m happy to shoot 68 after a long layout and it’s nice to be under par. I took about five weeks off and it was tough over the first few holes today, to feel that tournament pressure again. But it was good to get back out there,” he said.