Michael Hollick converted a solid finish in his last tournament into an error-free opening round of eight-under-par 64 in the Platinum Classic on Thursday.
While it was not enough to give him the lead, it did leave him just one off the pace set by the sparkling – and equally error-free – eight-under-par 63 set by Bryce Easton which heads the 54-hole event after the first day of the R500,000 tournament.
“I skipped the tournament at Langebaan last month to clear my head,” Hollick said. “I worked a bit on the swing, and I needed to sort out a few mental issues, and I’ve been solid since then.”
With two top-five finishes to his name this year, in the Investec Royal Swazi Open and last week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament in Parys, Hollick is heading to finish comfortably better than he did in his rookie season on the 2012 Sunshine Tour.
“I led in Swaziland for the first three rounds, but I went into the final round with the wrong mind-set,” he said. “In Parys, I was pretty solid – consistent throughout – so I was happy with my game coming into this tournament.”
The event is played on the only nine-hole course on the Sunshine Tour schedule, and that had something to do with the confidence he felt. “Going round a second time makes a lot of stuff familiar for the back nine,” he said.
“Some of the tee positions are fairly similar, and with most of the fairways pretty wide open, there are plenty of chances to attack. And it’s nice to be playing on green fairways with good greens after some of the hard and dry courses we play in the winter,” he added.
His card for the opening nice was identical to that of Easton: Birdies on one, four, seven, eight and nine saw them turn in five-under 31. But then Hollick had birdies on 14, 17 and 18 to complete his round and be one clear of Jaco Ahlers, Doug McGuigan and Neil Schietekat on seven-under-par 65 in a share of third.
Defending champion Jake Roos had a two-under-par round going, but bogeys on 17 and 18 saw him slip back to level-par for the tournament, nine off the pace and with work to do if he is to successfully defend his title.