Jake Redman included an eagle at the 17th to his late charge at the Investec Royal Swazi Open on Wednesday and moved within one point of the lead at the Royal Swazi Sun Country Club.
“It’s the first time I’m playing this tournament, because I’ve missed out in pre-qualifying for the last couple of years. It’s great to get straight into the tournament and to get off to such a good start,” he said.
The 26-year-old headed to Swaziland with a game plan based on the modified stableford scoring system of the tournament, a system which promotes aggressive play and gives the professionals more reason to fire at the flags.
“This format is really nice, because it’s a bit different. My game plan is designed for the scoring system, because it rewards those who make lots of birdies,” he said.
Redman headed out with that in mind and made a quick move on the front stretch, birdieing his first three holes. He then birdied the seventh to turn with eight points in hand.
The back stretch held a slower start for the Fancourt player, who had to stay patient until the opportunities arose. The wait finally ended on the par-five 17th, where he made a five-point gain.
“That eagle at 17 was the highlight of my round, but it was long time coming after my good start. I almost holed my second shot for albatross, but I was still very happy to make eagle,” he said.
Redman has nine top-20 results on the Sunshine Tour and is no stranger to the front of the pack. With 54 holes still to play, there is plenty of golf to come, but the young gun is up for the challenge.
“The points are in my mind, but I want to take it one step at a time. The course has a strong risk-and-reward layout, and if you stay patient the scores will come,” he said.
Closing with an eagle and a birdie earned the 2010 Qualifying School winner sole second, one point behind leader Michael Hollick, who wanted to stay focused on the task of leading.
“I’ve just got to play it shot by shot now that I’m ahead," said Hollick. "My downfall this year has been that I get ahead of myself, so if I stay in the moment then I’ll definitely be up there at the end."
Ruan de Smidt had a solid day on the 6140-metre course and made seven birdies to share third on 14 points. He was joined by Zimbabwean Mark Williams, a fellow graduate of the Sunshine Big Easy Tour.
The Zimbabweans were out to play, and Williams’ countryman Ryan Cairns reached the clubhouse on 13 points, joining Colin Nel in a share of fifth.
Wallie Coetsee took hold of seventh on 12 points, followed by Jaco Ahlers and rookie Brandon Detweiler, who shared eighth on 11 points.