Jean quickly back in the groove at De Zalze

Jean Hugo made it sound as if adapting his game to De Zalze Golf Club was a bit of a trial, but his six-under-par 66 in the opening round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf event there certainly belied that.

The former Stellenbosch local who now plays out of Centurion held an early one-stroke lead over a quartet of players – qualifier Francois Haughton, Jaco Ahlers, Christiaan Basson and Keith Horne, the Telkom PGA champion who is back home for a stretch after campaigning in Europe.

“It’s nice to be back here,” said Hugo, “but it’s totally different from up-country, so you have to sort your clubs out, and how far they go – and especially even a little breeze can make a big difference to club selection here.”

While that might have been tricky for Hugo, he found a putting touch that saw him turn in five-under-par 31. “The greens are great,” he said, “so you can put up a good score out there.”

And although he made two more birdies after the turn – on the 13th and 14th, he made his sole error of the day on 16 when he failed to get up and down after his tee shot missed the green on the 203-metre par-three.

Hugo won the last tournament he played in Stellenbosch in 2010, when he had a five-stroke victory over Shaun Norris, carding 19-under-par for the 54-hole Vodacom Business Origins of Golf event there.

Haughton had to play his way into the field through the pre-qualifier the day before the tournament, and he was level-par going into the final four holes of his round: A birdie-birdie-eagle-birdie sequence saw him vault into contention, alongside Ahlers who made six-birdies in succession during his round.

Basson made no drops in his round, while Horne countered his two bogeys with an eagle three on the eighth.

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