Martin holds it together in round 1 at Sandwich

Martin Maritz has been waiting for his first round in a major championship for a long time, and while it wasn’t a perfect day, he walked off the course with a three-over-par 73.

And before the Open Championship started at Royal St George’s, he came away from his practice round two days before the tournament saying that he thought two or three over par might be the equivalent to par if the wind blew.

With his early start, he had much the worst of the weather, which was rainy and windy on the coast of Kent in the morning, but clearer and stiller as the day wore on.

But he held on tenaciously throughout the round, turning in two-over-par 37 after making bogey on the third and the eighth.

Two more bogeys on 13 and 18 were balanced by his only birdie – on the par-five 14th – and he would have felt he had made a satisfactory start to a tough challenge.

If he spends some time on his statistics, he’ll take a good lesson into the second round.

He was right on the money in terms of his driving distance: He averaged 291 yards off the tee, while rest of the field was at 289. He was also straighter than most, hitting seven of 14 fairways in comparison 5.57 for the rest of the field.

And when it came to greens in regulation, he found some food for thought: He hit seven in comparison to the 8.71 average for the rest of the field. Putting, too, was an area where one competitive round on the tough greens with their difficult pin-placements will help him in the second.

But he wasn’t that far off the pace there either: He had 27 putts compared to the 25.9 average for the rest of the field.

Maritz was one of two South African qualifiers from the International Final Qualifier held at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington in January.

The other was Neil Schietekat, who, like Maritz, opened with a 73.

He had a horror start, slipping to five-over-par by the eighth, but he turned things around with a birdie on nine, and then made two more on his way home before he bogeyed the 18th – which was the toughest hole on the first day.

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