Easton takes his chances to share Vodacom lead in Knysna

Bryce Easton gave himself plenty of chances as he carded a six-under-par 66 on Wednesday to join in a three-way share of the lead of the first round of the R600,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Simola Golf and Country Estate.

He shared the top of the leaderboard with qualifier David Ryan and Albert Pistorius, and they take a one-stroke lead over Vaughn Groenewald into the second round of the 54-hole event.

“Quite a lot of my putts seemed to just sit on the edge and have a look and didn’t go,” said Easton. “The greens are rolling nicely but they’re tricky to read with some subtle breaks, but I’m obviously very chuffed with six-under.”

He didn’t start all that promisingly with a bogey on the 11th after he got his round underway on the 10th, but he rectified things immediately with a birdie on 12, and then two more on 15 and 17.

“I had a nice little chip-in for three on 18, which helped,” he said of the eagle on the 468-metre par-five as he turned in four-under 32.

He held things together with two more birdies on his inward nine, and came close a few more times too: he had a birdie putt lip out on the ninth as he attempted to break a sequence of four consecutive pars ahead of his closing hole.

Pistorius closed his error-free round – six birdies and no birdies – with consecutive birdies on the 17th and 18th as he took a late share of the lead.

He will be looking to get his year going after two 11th-place finishes so far in the Telkom PGA Championship and the Investec Royal Swazi Open last week. He also had a 12th in the Platinum Classic.

Ryan’s accuracy was the key to his score. He hit 17 greens in regulation, but 29 putts, including a three-putt at the fifth for bogey, kept him from making a lower score.

One shot behind Groenewald was a group of three players on four-under, which included rookie Ruan de Smidt. He carded the first ace of his life when he holed out on the 157-metre 17th with a nine-iron.

That won him eight VIP tickets to a Springbok rugby test match in South Africa later this year courtesy of promoters SAIL – and he’s never seen the national team in action.

He was joined on 68 by Titch Moore and Neil Schietekat, while defending champion Jean Hugo battled his way to a one-under 71.

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