Derik Ferreira was the man to beat at Centurion Country Club on Tuesday after he shot an impressive 64 to lead round one of the R100,000 Sunshine Big Easy Tour event presented by Stonehage.
“This is one of those courses where backing off can hurt you. You have to be aggressive and give yourself a lot of chances. I was hitting it nicely and then capitalised with the flat stick,” he said.
The 24-year-old’s attacking style paid dividends in the benign conditions and he made nine birdies during the day to move one stroke clear of JJ Senekal.
Ferreira was unhindered by his lone drop of the day, which came at the 15th. He was hitting it too well for the bogey to disrupt his round and immediately recovered with a birdie at the 16th.
“I got off to a nice start, making birdies right out of the blocks. I didn’t really make any mistakes and I only had one bad shot the whole day, and that was when I made six at the par-five 15th. Other than that I’m very happy,” he said.
With six top-10s on the Sunshine Tour and nine top-20s on the Big Easy Tour, Ferreira knows how to contend at the top, and was excited about teeing up in the final three-ball on Wednesday.
“I’m looking forward to tomorrow, because I haven’t been in the mix for a while. I’m in a nice position and I’ll go out there and try to have some fun,” he said.
Senekal has focused on his short game over the last few weeks and that paid off on the pristine Centurion greens. He made eight birdies during the round to reach seven-under-par.
“The real improvement has been my short game. I had an injury and all I could practice on was my chipping and putting, and I’ve improved a lot in both those areas. Today I was firing everything within 125 metres at the flag and my putting was absolutely great,” he said.
In January the Somerset West local finished tied 23rd at the Telkom PGA Pro-Am, which is also held at Centurion Country Club. That result gave him extra confidence ahead of the final round on Wednesday.
“I played here in the beginning of the year and shot eight-under for the tournament, so I’ve had some good experiences around here and I’m feeling good here again this week,” he said.
Five players shared third on six-under-par. That fivesome included Darryn Lloyd, who took a share of third at the Swazi Open last week and made it into a playoff at Big Easy Observatory in late April.
He shared third place with Musiwalo Nethunzwi, Toto Thimba, Roberto Lupini and Omar Sandys, all of whom are in with a shout for the final round.
Four amateur invitations were handed out as part a golf development initiative by the Sunshine Tour. Only one of the four failed to break par, indicating the depth of South Africa’s golfing talent. Christiaan Bezuidenhout led the amateur charge after shooting an outstanding 68.