Juan stands the test at Copperleaf

The Big Easy Tour Championship got underway at The Els Club, Copperleaf on Monday and Juan Langeveld led the first round after shooting three-under-par 69.


“I’m very happy with three-under because it was difficult out there. I played nicely and didn’t make a lot of mistakes. My short game didn’t let me down and all-in-all it was a good round,” he said.


It was a tough day for the 30-man field and only three players managed to break par at the 7281-metre course. The temperature rose to 30 degrees Celsius and winds were light, but the course played long and tricky.


Langeveld was the standout player on Monday and turned in one-under-par before attacking on the back nine. Over the stretch he birdied the 11th, 15th and 17th to make the clubhouse on three-under, one shot clear of JC Ritchie.


“I found the back nine played a bit easier,” said Langeveld. “It was nice to turn one-under and then go firing on the back nine. My confidence was high and I hit it nicely, so hopefully I can keep it up.”


The Tour Championship is a 54-hole event with a field made up of the top 30 earners from the regular Big Easy Tour season. Winning the Order of Merit guarantees playing privileges on the 2015 Sunshine Tour and also gives the new champion some confidence heading into the second half of the year.


It’s still early and 36 holes remain, so Langeveld has set his sights on taking it one hole at a time. If he keeps playing the way he did on Monday it will be tough to prevent the Capetonian from becoming the next Big Easy champion.


“I’d love to clinch the Big Easy Championship title, but you can’t think like that: you just play as well as you can. I’d like to repeat what I did today and keep it going, but this course can have completely different scoring, especially if the wind picks up,” he said.


Ritchie had a cracking front nine that included four birdies and no drops. He led through most of the round until untimely bogeys at the 13th and 14th set him back to two-under for the day, which was a score he carried through to the clubhouse.


“I was hitting the ball quite well and got a little unlucky on the back, but otherwise I kept it together quite nicely. I made a few nice putts on the front nine and just went a little cold on the back, but I’m satisfied with two-under for the round,” he said.


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