“It was nice to get something going. I’ve been making cuts, but the scores haven’t been too low, so it was nice to put a low one together today. The putter came alive for the first time in a while,” he said.
Prime weather meant that the development tour players had the chance to score. Van der Walt took advantage and shot four-under-par for a share of the halfway lead alongside Jacquin Hess, Louis Calitz, and Juan Langeveld.
The Big Easy Tour strives to help up-and-coming golfers from Southern Africa by enabling them to compete under tournament conditions. Van der Walt, now in his third year on tour, is looking to win this week and rise ever higher.
“I’ve been having a good season,” he said. “You want to try to win these Big Easy events and build some confidence for the main tour. It’s about the tournament golf and it’s great to come out and play instead of sitting at home and practicing.”
The Hillcrest local received pointers during round one at the 6700-metre parklands track, pointers that came from a very accomplished caddie.
“I had a bit of sneaky help on the bag,” van der Walt said. “Jaco van Zyl is out with an injury, so I had his caddie Luke (Swemmer) on the bag. It makes a big difference having some good advice – he doesn’t tell me what to do, but he definitely influences my decisions in a good way.”
“After two months of working hard I was ready for this. Today was solid golf and I’m very happy. I had lots of opportunities and I made some good putts,” he said.
The 23-year-old aims to use the development tour as a springboard onto the Sunshine Tour.
“I want to get back onto the main tour, it’s my goal after a disappointing trip to Qualifying School. I didn’t sit around while I was away, and almost every day except Sunday I was at my home course, Robertson Golf Club, preparing for these Big Easy events.”
Louis Calitz sprinted through the back nine on Tuesday. He made birdies at the 13th, 15th, 17th and 18th to move from level-par to four-under in the space of six holes. Juan Langeveld was the fourth and final player to reach the clubhouse in 68 strokes and tie for the lead.
But the player who set the pace was van der Walt, who also had luck on his side during the first round of the 2014 Big Easy Tour.
“I made a good birdie on the sixth. I hit my tee shot right and it was almost out of bounds, but then I managed to get it on and sink a 30-foot putt for birdie. It’s those lucky breaks that turn things around very quickly,” he said.