Keith Horne (@keithhorne1) had never played at St Francis Links before Wednesday’s first round of the R600,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf presented by Samsung tournament there, and he made light of that unfamiliarity in perfect conditions with a course-record seven-under-par 65 to take an early lead.
“I didn’t know what bad stuff could be waiting out there for me,” laughed Horne when he was told that he has set the course record.
It was good enough to give him a two-stroke edge over Titch Moore, the Eastern Cape player who calls St Francis Links his home course, and give credence to the idea that a wary golfer is one who is likely to score well.
“I liked the course straight away,” he said. “It’s demanding, and on every hole, you can possibly make a number. So that helped me concentrate, it helped me focus. I never took any shots for granted, and I always play well on those kinds of courses.”
The result of that kind of focus was that he was the only player to post a bogey-free round, and that came from a combination of fear, respect and some good stroke-making and putting.
“The greens are quite severe, so if you get on the wrong side of the hole it can be very scary,” he said. “But at the same time, the course rewards good shots. If you hit a good shot, it feeds in right next to the hole.
“I had a lot of short birdie putts today, because the ball sort of fed into a foot. Before my last two birdies, the longest birdie putt I had was about four feet.
“My wedges were pretty good. My distance control was good with my wedges, and then I made a couple of good putts – on 15 and then on 18 I made a beaut when I was just trying to keep it on the green and it went in.”
The local lad Moore was somewhat taken aback by the benign conditions which greeted the field. “I’ve played here plenty before, and I’ve never had a day like this,” he said. “There’s not even a breeze out here. A day like today is going to be a day of scoring.”
He took advantage with six birdies and a bogey after he started his round on the 10th. He turned in a faultless 33, and made three more birdies on the front nine with the only blemish a bogey on the fourth.
There was a group of four players on four-under in a share of third place behind Horne and Moore, consisting of JC Ritchie, Erik van Rooyen, Shaun Smith and Neil Schietekat.