A hattrick of birdies on the front nine boosted Divan Gerber to a share of the lead in round one of the Sunshine Big Easy Tour event at Maccauvlei Golf Club presented by Stonehage.
On a clear, sunny day Gerber shot 68 and went to four-under-par, tied for the lead with Lyle Rowe, Jeff Inglis and Louis Calitz, despite only 14 players having managed to card below par on day one.
22-year-old Gerber has recorded three top 10 finishes on the 2011 Sunshine Big Easy Tour, including a share of third place at both the Crown Mines and Glendower events.
The Bethlehem Country Club professional took an early lead in breezy conditions with a birdie on the second, but a bogey on the sixth set him back to level par.
Adversity sparked a fire in Gerber and he carded three consecutive birdies from the seventh to the ninth and moved into first place. ÂOnce the first one (birdie) came on seven I felt good and just went with it,Â said Gerber.
This run included a fantastic tee shot on the 164-metre, par-three eighth hole, which lead to a four-foot putt for birdie number two of his hattrick.
Gerber carded a bogey straight after the turn. ÂThe greens are so quick that you really have to putt softly or you will be punished,Â he said.
He recovered the shot with a birdie on the par-four thirteenth, his round back to three-under.
Two birdies on the 16th and 18th were separated by a bogey on the 17th and Gerber finished the day at four-under-par with the clubhouse lead.
As the day progressed Lyle Rowe, Louis Calitz and Jeff Inglis joined Gerber at the top of the leaderboard.
Players attached a black ribbon to their caps today in memory of the late Senior Rules Official Cecil Wells, who will be sorely missed. Rest in peace.
It will be difficult to catch Gerber on MaccauvleiÂs back nine, and before the turn he will push himself to ensure a first victory.