Daniel Brooks raced down the 18th at Mount Edgecombe Country Club on Wednesday to complete his opening round of the €1-million Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa in eight-under-par 62.
Play had been suspended moments after he birdied the 17th hole and, on a day which saw play delayed by seven hours before a ball was struck while the course was readied after heavy rains had rendered many fairways waterlogged, he was determined to get the opening stanza behind him.
“It’s been a long day,” said Brooks. “I was completely focused on getting to the 18th tee box when we got called in. That probably helped, in a way, because I just kept playing and the result was good.”
It was a bogey-free round for him, with four birdies on the opening nine and four more on the homeward stretch on a course which was reduced to a par-70 track: The 293-metre (320-yard) par-four fifth was converted into a 130-metre (142-yard) par-three because the fairway was so waterlogged.
For Brooks, as for so many players who go so low, putting was the key. “I pretty much holed everything I looked at, which was quite nice,” he said. “I haven’t putted that great over the last couple of weeks, so to hole a few was pretty nice.”
He was happy with his iron play, but not as thrilled with his driving. “I’ve been hitting it nicely off the tees, but I didn’t do that today,” he said. “We were lucky that we could place in the fairways, which gave us a bit of relief. The fairways weren’t too bad in places, but you need to keep it out of the rough around here because it’s really thick.
“It was soaking wet and you’re getting no run at all. It’s not too bad and they’ve shortened a few holes as well. If you’re hitting it on the fairways it’s pretty score-able,” he added.
There were others who found the course vulnerable in its current condition too: He led Frenchman Francois Calmels by one stroke, with two other French players in Edouard Dubois and Romain Wattel a further shot back.
With the round incomplete, first round play will resume at 6am, with the second round scheduled to get underway at 10.50am as organisers battle to get play back on schedule.