Long-awaited eagle sees Jacquin lead

15_VOG_Vaal_HessJ_rd1NEWHe can’t remember when last he made an eagle, but Jacquin Hess made one on Thursday as he raced to an eight-under-par 64 in the opening round of the R650,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf event presented by Samsung at Vaal De Grace.

at bogey-free round was good enough for an early share of the lead with Drikus van der Walt, who stormed through his back nine in six-under-par 30, giving the pair of them a one-stroke edge over Jean Hugo.

“For my eagle on seven, I had 250 in and I hit it to two feet,” said the 24-year-old from Robertson who turned professional in 2013. “I was very happy to make it. I can’t remember when last I made an eagle in a tournament.

With plenty of good scores there for the taking, he wasn’t feeling complacent about his round. “I’m very happy, but I’m not sure that eight-under is safe for the lead,” he said. “The boys can play. They can make lots of birdies on the par-fives. The course is not long. I hit a lot of wedges in, so the boys will be able to go for that eight-under.”

He was one of very few players who managed to keep the errors off his card, and that was key to his success. “Making birdies is great, but keeping bogeys off the card is also important,” he said. “I made a good par putt on 14 after being next to the green for two. Not taking a birdie there was a bit disappointing, but I was happy to save par there.”

Putting is something he has been working on, and it showed with a nerveless five-footer for par on the nine – his 18th, after he began his round on the 10th – when a three-putt would not have been entirely unimaginable. “For my putting, I’m doing this one-handed drill with my left hand and it’s really helping me,” he said. “Also, the greens are fantastic. They remind me of my home course in Robertson. I think that’s a big reason why I’m playing like this.”

He’s only made one cut on the Sunshine Tour this year, when he finished in a share of 20th in the Sun Wild Coast Sun Challenge last month, but he has kept plugging away. The start in Parys could help him get past the cut for a second time and even higher up the leaderboard. “It would be fantastic if I could put three good rounds together,” he said.

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