Michael last, but not least

Michael du Toit was the last man into Modderfontein Golf Club clubhouse on Thursday, but his 69 was enough to earn him a share of the first-round lead of the Sunshine Big Easy Tour event there.

“I was surprised that that was the low score of the day, the course is playing good and the weather is fantastic. I played solid and I’m happy with my score,” he said.

He joins Johan Bekker, Beyers Smith and amateur Haydn Porteous atop the leaderboard of the third R100,000 tournament in the series presented by Stonehage.

“I drove it well today,” said Du Toit, “and actually left a couple out there, but I’m happy with my score.”

The Johannesburg local noted the difficulty of the pin placements, but avoided risky shots and rather took opportunities when they came. “If you’re coming from the fairways you can get to them (the pins), but coming from the rough you have to play percentage golf and hit the middle of the greens. But I was hitting fairways, so I didn’t find that to be too much of a problem,” he said.

The course was in fantastic condition and was a good test of golf. Du Toit added: “The greens are good – they are running nicely and the pace is good. I left a couple out there, felt like I could have come in with a few more, but 69 is a good score.”

Amateur Porteous plays out of Modderfontein and took full advantage of the chance to take on the pros at his home course. He reached six-under through 13, but failed to keep up the tempo and slipped back to three-under by the time he signed his card. It was still enough to draw him level with the leaders and he was happy with his performance.

“To shoot 69 is always nice, and leading is where you want to be. It was quite an eye-opener to see how tough professional golf is in South Africa, because the standard is just so high,” he said.

Porteous received his invitation through a golf development initiative between the Sunshine Tour and South African Golf Association. The Big Easy Tour has committed 40 invitations to amateurs from SAGA, the SA Golf Development Board, Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation and the SAGA Junior Golf groups throughout the course of the 2012 season.

Du Toit will head into the final round with victory on his mind, and added: “I’m going to out there with the same attitude tomorrow –just play, relax and enjoy. And let the pieces fall where they may. I think I try too hard and put too much pressure on myself, so tomorrow I’m just going to take it one shot at a time.”

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