Merrick Bremner had an extraordinary nine-hole stretch around the turn on Friday in the first round of the R800,000 BMG Classic where he didn’t make a single par. And although there was a bogey and a double-bogey in there, he still led the tournament at six-under-par 66 when all the dust had settled.
That gave him a one-stroke edge over Oliver Bekker, with Attie Schwartzel, Darren Fichardt and Jean Hugo a further stroke back on four-under-par 68 after a breezy start at Glendower Golf Club.
“In the end it was a good day,” smiled Bremner afterwards. “It was tough this morning when the wind made it tricky, and I just had a little mental error on the 10th when I hit my second shot in the water from 75 metres. I wasn’t too impressed.”
But he was impressed enough with eight birdies and an eagle on his card, and two bogeys to go with his double, so the result was imminently satisfactory.
The wind made life tricky for all the players at times, but Bremner was able to take full advantage when he had it behind him, and his eagle came on the par-five 13 which was playing downwind. “I hit a really good tee shot and a good nine-iron to about five metres behind the flag and managed to make about a 30-footer for eagle,” he said.
With the wind blowing the opposite direction during the previous day’s pro-am, Bremner had a three-wood into that green. “I try and prepare for all sorts of things ahead of tournaments,” he said, “so if the wind changes, then I’ve thought it through already.”
There were bogeys on just about everyone’s cards on the day, and, in second place, Bekker was no exception: He had two, but the four birdies he picked up in his closing nine saw him come home in 33 for his five-under 67.
In a share of third, Schwartzel came closest to a bogey-free round, only dropping on his last hole of the day, the ninth. He hit a wayward tee-shot, and was unable to finish off without the drop. “I used an iron off the tee” he said, “and just caught a bad bounce to the right of the fairway.” He chipped out, played what looked to be an immaculately directed approach, only to see the ball spin 30 feet back past the hole.
For Bremner, it will be about minimising errors, as he pushes to finish his year on the Sunshine Tour with a win.