It’s been a quiet few months since he won the Zimbabwe Open, but Jake Roos was back with all guns blazing as he fired a six-under-par 66 on Wednesday to lead the first round of the R600,000 Sun City Classic.
He hasn’t been outside the top 25, but that’s not up to the standard he set with his four top 10s in tournaments ahead of that. Six birdies and an eagle changed all that as he led Ryan Tipping, Attie Schwartzel and Adilson Da Silva by a single stroke.
He also made two bogeys, so it could have been even better. “It was a little bit of an up-and-down round,” he admitted. “I even had a six on a par-five. But I played really well, and hit the ball really nicely. So I’m happy with my start.”
Roos has happy memories of the Lost City Golf Club: He won the 2009 Nedbank Affinity Cup for his second title. “I really like the course,” he said. “It sets up well for my game with a couple of left-to-right shots. I always feel comfortable out here.”
Tipping was not always comfortable, as he’s still battling to feel comfortable with swing changes he’s made. “I’ve been working with Neil Cheetham, actually,” he said of his fellow Sunshine Tour professional. “I’ve just got to trust the swing now. It’s coming along well now, and even my playing partners remarked that it looked good today.”
Like Roos, he made two bogeys, but an eagle and five birdies made up for them.
Schwartzel was riding the wave of confidence he gained from his maiden professional victory last week on the Sunshine Big Easy Tour. “I played flawless golf,” he said. Like Tipping, he started on 10, and he eagled the 11th to get off to a fast start.
“I took a lot of confidence from last week, and I’m still hitting the ball as well as I did last week. And with that confidence, you start believing you can win on the Sunshine Tour as well,” he said.
Da Silva doesn’t much like the course, but that’s not apparent from his scorecard. Like the players surrounding him on the upper reaches of the leaderboard, he made two bogeys. But regular birdies kept him in the hunt.
“I battle with some of the tee shots here,” he said, “and some of the second shots into the par-fours are a bit long for me. But I had a local caddie helping me read the putts, and I putted well enough to keep myself in there.”
For Roos, however, the sense that things might have turned for him is something for his opponents to chew on. “Things are feeling good today, so I’m looking forward to the next two days,” he said.