Hitting 16 of 18 greens in regulation saw Christiaan Bezuidenhout safely to a five-under-par 67 and a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Big Easy Tour’s King’s Cup in Swaziland.
Trailing him in a share of second were Sipho Bujela, Dylan O’Leary and Gideon Pienaar. And while he made a soft drop on his second-last hole – the eighth, after he started his round on the 10th – that was sandwiched between an eagle on seven and a birdie on his final hole to sign off with a flourish.
“I just kept on giving myself chances today,” he said. “I just stayed patient. All the putts didn’t go in, so it was important to keep hitting the greens. But I did have two puts outside of 15 feet, so that makes me happy.”
Bezuidenhout has not had much success on the Big Easy Tour, with just three top 10s, the last two of which came back in 2013.
And with a purse of R200,000 for this 36-hole event – double the normal amount up for grabs on the Big Easy Tour – it would be a good time for him to come good. “I’m trying not to think about this tournament like that,” he said. “I just have to try and get the job done, and if the prize money is there, it’s there.”
Like Bezuidenhout’s round, Bujela’s and Pienaar’s each contained two bogeys, but O’Leary had to recover from a double bogey on his fourth hole of the day, the 13th. Fortunately for him, it came immediately after an eagle on 12, so he was able to reset things and goes into the final round just one off Bezuidenhout’s pace.
For the leader, it’ all about making sure he produces more of the same in the chase to the finish. “I’m going to just keep giving myself chances,” he said. “The greens are small here, so you can give yourself putts inside 20 feet – if you hit the greens.
“So I’ll just stick to my game plan and hit greens.”