The cold and rainy conditions subsided and a perfect day for scoring produced some low numbers on the opening day of the tournament.
“It was great weather, kind of cold with no wind,” said Du Plessis. “I started off nicely, making birdie on the first hole, kept it going but couldn’t make putts on the front nine. I was five-under through 12 and I knew down the stretch there were some easy holes and I hit some good wedge shots and some good putts and almost holed it on the last hole so it was a good round and I’m happy with no bogeys,” he added.
Happy with his bogey-free performance, du Plessis still feels there is still a lower number out on the Swaziland layout. “Ja definitely lower. I missed four putts on the front nine inside about 10-foot, so I played really well today. You’re not going to make everything and I had my fair share on the back nine so I’m happy,” he said.
Keith Horne, Anthony Michael, Danie van Tonder and Jared Harvey sit one stroke further back on eight-under-par for the tournament.
Horne produced a sublime bogey-free round that saw him back up four birdies on the front nine with two eagles on the back nine.
“I played well. I really felt like I found my game again in Mauritius, so I was quite excited and positive about coming here and playing this week. I didn’t drive the ball great today, but I kept it in play and that’s all you need to do around here – it’s not that long. I played the par-fives well and when you play them well you have a good score, and it does give me a lot of momentum,” said Horne.
Van Tonder carded 10 birdies and two bogeys in his eight-under-par round and the two-time Sunshine Tour winner says he has his confidence back to start challenging for silverware again.
“I’ve been struggling with the confidence a bit and I mean after last week I’ve been getting some more confidence slowly and I’m feeling good,” said van Tonder. “It’s a bit different than two weeks ago. The greens are a bit firmer but they’re still fast when with the grain but its fun out there. I made a few birdies and missed a few three metre putts so it could have been better but I’m really happy,” he added.
Michael and Harvey started strongly, both carding opening nine scores of five-under-par 31.
Michael said, “It was a great start today. The putter was really on fire and I hit the ball pretty good. I left a couple out there but I’ll never complain with eight-under. If I keep the ball-striking with the way it is now, and keep the putter warm, we’ll have another round like that and it’ll be great.”
For Harvey, it was a case of a new putter in the bag that sparked a rejuvenated performance on the greens.
“It was a good round. I’ve been battling for a long time now with – obviously going with the long putter- I’m still obviously using it but not anchoring. Just looking at my stats this whole year, I haven’t averaged under 30 putts one time this season. For the first time, today I put another putter in the bag this week, probably about my fifth one of the year – I just found this bar room putter – and it worked today. It was a great feeling to hole some putts today,” explained Harvey.
Jaco Prinsloo, Oliver Bekker and Callum Mowat sit one stroke further back on seven-under-par.