It hasnÂt been the kind of year Dean Burmester had been hoping for, but heÂs finding form at exactly the right time.
Burmester had only 10 putts on his inward nine for a six-under-par 66 and the first round lead in the Nedbank Affinity Cup at the Lost City Golf Club on Tuesday.
He heads the field by a single stroke over Brandon Pieters after a day of scorching heat, some wind and a few snakes.
After only two birdies going out, BurmesterÂs round really gained momentum on his inward nine, where he made five birdies in six holes.
ÂThe putts didnÂt fall on the outward nine. Then I only hit 10 putts on the inward nine, which was quite scary. I havenÂt putted like that in years.Â
Burmester came into this tournament having missed three cuts in his last six tournaments. But with the Nedbank Affinity Cup serving as the last tournament before next weekÂs South African Open and a run of European Tour events on the Sunshine Tour, heÂs quite happy to be finding his rhythm at this point in the season.
ÂIÂve been struggling for a few months before this, but my game is warming up at the right time. This is a good warm-up event for the big tournaments. Especially on this course, which really tests your mental focus. You can slack off on one hole here and make a big number. So that keeps you mentally sharp going into the big tournaments, and itÂs a massive summer coming up for us.Â
Pieters looked a weary man as he walked off with a bogey-free 67 after a tough day in the heat.
It was a similar experience for Bradford Vaughan, who finished in a group of players on four under.
ÂYou lose concentration out there because you start to get dizzy from the heat,Â he said.
But his senses were sharpened on his way to the 10th tee. Play was held up briefly here for a snake wrangler to come and remove a black mamba in the overhanging trees.
ÂThe mamba was scary, but itÂs a great incentive to keep the ball on the fairways,Â said Vaughan, who didnÂt make a single bogey on the back nine.