Eagle on 17 gives Bremner share of Mooinooi lead

Merrick Bremner felt he didn’t start too well, but he signed for an eight-under-par 64 on Thursday to share the first-round lead of the R500,000 Platinum Classic presented by UD Trucks.

He raced home in five-under-par 31 on the inward nine on the nine-hole Mooinooi Golf Club layout to join Justin Harding atop the leaderboard, with a one-stroke lead over Jaco Ahlers.

Bremner cemented his share of the lead with an eagle on the 17th: “I played a driver off the tee,” he said, “and I hit a bit of a conservative shot to the middle of the green with an eight-iron and then rolled in about a 30-footer for eagle.

“I hit a lot of good putts today. Some didn’t go in. A lot did, but it wasn’t a fantastic performance by any means. I had 29 putts so it’s decent, solid, but it’s not great.

“It would have been even better if I had made the putt on the last, but I finished birdie-eagle-par which is always nice. Other than that, everything is perfect,” he added.

Like Bremner, Harding made eagle on 17. “I took driver and seven-iron in for the eagle,” he said, “and hit it to about 15 feet and rolled the putt in. It was about the longest one I made all day.”

And Ahlers also made eagle on 17, but his was more impressive than the others: “I took nine-iron in, and it hit the flag stick, halfway up,” he said. “It ended up a foot from the hole, so it was a pretty easy eagle.”

That saw him card a seven-under 65 and it put him one stroke clear of a bunch of five players on six-under-par consisting of Brandon Pieters, Warren Abery, Vaughn Groenewald, Darren Fichardt and Charl Coetzee.

Of that group, Fichardt has a win this year with his victory in the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Wild Coast, while Coetzee is in search of a maiden Sunshine Tour win after three successive top-10 finishes this month.

While they – and Abery and Groenewald – have been playing steadily and well, Pieters has battled to recapture the form which saw him win three titles on the 2009 Sunshine Tour.

He was generous in his praise of the only nine-hole course visited by the Sunshine Tour: “I wish they could make it an 18-hole course,” he said. “And the greens are really good, too. They really help with putting, which has been my problem this year, and has kind of infected the rest of my game.

“But I rolled a few in today, and that helped with my confidence,” he added.

Bremner agreed about the course: “The course is unbelievable at the moment – the greens are fantastic. It’s one of my favourite places on tour to come to. I really like the layout,” he said.

Of the top three players, only Harding had a bogey-free card. Both Ahlers and Bremner dropped a shot on the third. “I didn’t start particularly well today,” said Bremner, “but watching other pros hitting good shots and making birdies makes you try and improve your own game.”

It worked for him: He was seven-under through his final 12 holes.

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