Hennie leads the way in Cape Town

Hennie Otto has thrown down the gauntlet with a six-under-par 66 during the first round of the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open, where he shares the early lead.


“To shoot six-under in the first round is always good and I’ll take that score any day. The key for Cape Town, and for coastal golf, is to manage the wind effectively,” he said.


The three-time European Tour winner finished 21st in the DP World Tour Championship one week ago and continued to impress on Thursday when he carded 33 on either side of the turn to join Lyle Rowe at the top of the leaderboard.


“We’re moving in the right direction and I’m playing well, so I’ll try to keep up the good work,” said Otto. “The breeze came up a bit, but I played well and made some crucial putts out there.”


The 38-year-old was acutely aware that the winner of this week’s R1,5-million tournament also gets a spot at the upcoming Nedbank Golf Challenge. The extra incentive has drawn big names to the Mother City, but of the European Tour stars it was Otto who stood out on day one.


“This is the end of our year and we haven’t had a break yet. We’ve gone 14 weeks, but the opportunity to win the million dollar is very exciting. You always watch it on TV and now you’ve got an opportunity to play it. Everyone has a chance to get there,” he said.


Rowe rattled off five birdies in a row on the front stretch, which was his second nine, and set the target at six-under. The 27-year-old comes from Port Elizabeth and was able to negotiate the blustery conditions of the Western Cape in style.


He shot 69 during the first round in Cape Town last year, but fell away over the next 54 holes. He’ll look to amend for those mistakes by continuing to score over the coming three days.


“It’s very nice to get a decent round underway. It’s the first day of a big event and it helps ease things going forward into the rest of the tournament.


“You don’t want to be too aggressive and make bogeys, so it’s about trying to find a balance and take the chances when they come. It’s still early days, so we’ll take it one shot at a time,” he said.


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