Day one of the South to East Challenge at Zwartkop Golf Club was a tightly contested affair, with England’s Haydn McCullen and South Africa’s Bryandrew Roelofsz securing top spot on the leaderboard on six-under-par.
The event, which is the first co-sanctioned tournament between the Sunshine Big Easy Tour and the MENA Tour, offers players crucial World Ranking points as well as a handsome R500, 000 prize fund.
McCullen started his round strongly, making birdie on the par-five first hole, and the Englishman said his game plan revolved around hitting as many greens as possible.
“I played well and holed a few putts which always helps. I just played solid – fairways and greens were my aim today – the greens are quite small so I played for the middle of the greens most of the time and you can hole a few putts from there,” explained McCullen.
Roelofsz turned in two-under-par, and a solid finish on the back nine saw the Sunshine Tour Qualifyng School graduate sign for an impressive 65.
“It’s tough out there. Obviously if you’re hitting the ball well you’ll score, but if you aren’t hitting it that well you’ll struggle a bit. I kept it together and played well – came out with a good score so I’m happy,” said Roelofsz.
With Roelofzs making the most of a perfect winters afternoon in Gauteng, McCullen found himself dealing with six-degree temperatures in the morning.
“Yeah it was really cold. I wish I had my long johns on – I had two jumpers, a woolly hat, standing on the range in the freezing cold. We eventually got round to about the sixth hole and it wasn’t too bad,” said McCullen.
Siphiwe Siphaya finished with a flourish, carding three birdies in a row to sit one shot off the leaders on five-under-par, while Irvin Mazibuko, CJ du Plessis and Andre de Decker carded four-under-par 67s to share fourth place.
Nine other players sit a stroke further back on three-under-par, those most notable being Matthew Carvell, Jaco Prinsloo and the MENA Golf Tour’s 2016 Order of Merit Title winner Thriston Lawrence.