Getting out of the social whirl paid dividends for Irvin Mazibuko on Wednesday as he fired a three-under-par 69 to take a share of the early first-round lead of the R600,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf Final at Legend Golf & Safari Estate.
Mazibuko, the 33-year-old Bloemfontein Golf Club man who turned professional in 2000, turned a fast start consisting of three birdies in his opening four holes into an opening round good enough to share the clubhouse lead with Albert Pistorius, Charl Coetzee, Steven Ferreira and Louis de Jager.
He moved from Soweto to Bloemfontein in an attempt to concentrate on his game more and improve his record on the Sunshine Tour, which, for now, shows just a single top-10 finish in the 2010 Investec Royal Swazi Open.
ÂItÂs much better living in Bloemfontein,Â said Mazibuko, Âbecause I have no friends there who would take my attention away from golf.Â
He only just made it into the field for the 54-hole final when he finished in a share of ninth place in the pre-qualifier on the 6,744-metre layout which is particularly challenging when the wind blows over the 18 holes, each of which is designed by a different player.
After his great start, he dropped a shot on 17 Â his eighth of the round Â but he redeemed it with a birdie on 18.
He kept things quiet through the tough stretch from one to five Â Legend golf director David Riddle calls it Âthe toughest opening five holes of any course in the worldÂ Â with six successive pars, before making birdie on seven and bogey on eight.
Ferreira, like Mazibuko a qualifier, made four birdies and a bogey in his 69, while all the other three players in the early lead made two bogeys each.
They led by one from Jean Hugo, a two-time winner this year on the Vodacom Origins of Golf circuit, and Ulrich van den Berg, while Brett Liddle, Justin Harding and Bradford Vaughan were a further stroke back in one-under.
But for Mazibuko, the solitude is helping him get better. ÂIÂve always hit the ball well, and now I just need to work on the mental side of things,Â he said.