Dylan Frittelli faced the quickest greens heÂs seen in a long time at Roodepoort Country Club on Tuesday, but putted superbly and carded 65 to lead round one of the Sunshine Big Easy Tour tournament presented by Stonehage.
ÂI played here about six years ago, and I knew that the greens were going to be extremely fast. I can compare this to a course we played in Las Vegas and those were the fastest IÂve encountered,Â he said.
FrittelliÂs 65 was a bogey-free display of talent, and the 22-year-old has picked up right where he left off, which was with a sole-second finish at the Telkom PGA Championship in March.
ÂI took a break after the Telkom PGA Championship and didnÂt touch a club for two weeks. This helps to stay sharp and the tour is certainly growing from strength to strength. There are some good players in this field and IÂm sure theyÂll push me tomorrow,Â he said.
The Johannesburg local tore around the 6866-metre Gary Player layout without a bogey on the card. He focused on making the greens in regulation, and that paid off in the form of seven birdies.
ÂIÂm extremely happy and a bogey-free round is always fun. It was solid golf everywhere – I hit a lot of greens and gave myself plenty of chances, and I managed to sink some of those birdie putts,Â he said.
The University of Texas graduate was the top-ranked amateur in America before he turned professional, and has chosen to hone his game on the Big Easy Tour in preparation for the big stage. HeÂs got plenty of competition in the field this week, especially from European Tour champion Anton Haig, who shot 67 at Roodepoort to hold second place.
ÂThe Sunshine Tour is growing all the time,Â said Haig. ÂAnd on the Big Easy Tour you really have to shoot good scores to do well. ItÂs great to be competing again and these tournaments help you to ride the wave of confidence thatÂs necessary for success in golf.Â
The first round on Tuesday signalled the start of 11 tournaments on the 2013 Big Easy schedule, with each tournament carrying a R100,000 prize fund. Haig was inspired to compete, looking to keep his competitive edge over the winter months.
His time at Roodepoort brought back fond memories and, after finishing tied 20th at the Asian TourÂs Chiangmai Golf Classic a fortnight ago, heÂs back on home soil and ready for the challenge.
ÂThis course brings back good memories and 10 years ago I won the SA Amateur here. Today my game was hot on the back nine, so hopefully I can keep that going tomorrow.Â
Francois Coetzee shot a respectable 68, eagling the last to reach the clubhouse in sole third. Sharing fourth on three-under were Jaco Prinsloo, Ryan Tipping, Beyers Smith, Brett Liddle, Morne Buys and Martin du Toit.
The participation of Haig and Frittelli this week indicates the strength of the Big Easy Tour, and with 112 players in the field there is plenty of competition to keep them on their toes.