While South Africans headed to the polling stations Le Roux Ferreira headed into score recording at the Investec Royal Swazi Open, where he put his mark on a 14-point score to share the early lead on Wednesday.
“I started off pretty solid and then hit it close on three and made birdie. From there everything snowballed and it got easier, so I’m very happy with my game,” he said.
The Ceres local played a flawless 18 at Royal Swazi Sun Country Club and made seven birdies to join defending champion James Kingston at the top of the leaderboard.
The tournament operates under a modified stableford scoring format with eight points being awarded for an albatross, five for an eagle and two for a birdie. One point is deducted for a bogey and three points for a double-bogey or worse. Par is worth zero points.
“The format does change your approach,” said Ferreira. “You’re thinking of points and not score, so you’re not worried about making numbers and you can be more aggressive. The format suits my game and it’s a really fun way to play.”
The Deerwood Country Club member turned professional in 2009 after graduating in the United States at Lamar University. He went on to contest on the NGA (National Golfers’ Association) Tour in the US and finished as high as sole second at the ComSouth Classic in 2012.
This year the 28-year-old has returned to home soil looking to carve out his name on the Sunshine Tour. So far he’s added fuel to the fire, most recently at the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open where he finished sole eighth on 11-under-par.
“I started getting confident from the Telkom Business PGA Championship and after Zimbabwe I really felt good. It’s about keeping it going from there, because this is only my 13th event on the Sunshine Tour. I didn’t come back here after I turned professional, but this year I’ve come to ply my trade for a bit,” he said.
At 69th on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit there is plenty of room for him to improve. His flying start at the Swazi Open could be the ticket to a big result.
Kingston leapt into his title defence with a birdie at the 10th, which was his starting hole for round one. Shortly thereafter he took advantage of the par-five 12th and made eagle to move up to seven points for the day, and then it was business as usual for the 12-time Sunshine Tour winner, who knew exactly how to make his quick start count.
“I had such a good start this morning and really got into a positive frame of mind. On the 12th, which was my third hole, I hit driver and then eight-iron to about 10 feet and it was really nice to make that putt for eagle. You feel ready, but you don’t know what to expect, and when you get off to a good start it just puts you at ease,” he said.
Charl Coetzee took on the course and was rewarded with an early hold on third place, despite making four bogeys during the round. An eagle at the first helped the 33-year-old get right into contention and by the end of the round he was one point shy of the lead.