Branden Grace missed some putts in his opening round in the R540,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf tournament at Simola Golf Estate on Wednesday, but his six-under-par 66 was good enough to have him in second place.
ÂI had a couple of eagle putts that didnÂt go in,Â he said, Âotherwise it could have been even better, but IÂm very happy with my position at the moment.
The round was not completed, with eight professionals still out on the course as darkness fell, all in pursuit of first-round leader Peter Karmis, who carded a seven-under-par 65 to lead Grace by one.
KarmisÂ round was flawless, with seven birdies and no drops, but Grace made bogeys on the fifth and the 16th to go with his eight birdies.
ÂThose happen in any round,Â said Grace, Âbut my game is really solid at the moment. I have been playing well this year generally, and I have been knocking, knocking on the door for a win. It will happen for me sometime, IÂm sure.Â
Behind Karmis and Grace, there was a big gathering of players on four-under-par 68: Albert Pistorius, Jean Hugo, Michiel Bothma and Jake Redman were joined by Jake Roos, who was four-under but yet to complete his round.
Redman, who is from the area, was pleased with his round: ÂThere arenÂt that many tournaments in this part of the world, so itÂs good to be able to play here,Â he said.
He, like Pistorius, has been honing his game on the Sunshine Big Easy Tour presented by Stonehage. ÂThose extra competitive rounds definitely help me keep my game grooved,Â he said.
Karmis and Grace are both in the field in a week when tournaments on the circuits they play abroad are taking a break. Karmis plies his trade on the Asian Tour, where he had a maiden win in 2010, and Grace has been having a good run on the European Challenge Tour, where his best finish was a second in the Acaya Open in Italy at the beginning of July.
Karmis missed the cut in his last tournament, and was not too impressed with his putting. ÂI just put a new putter in my bag this week, and itÂs working out well,Â he said. ÂSo much of putting is in the head, but even if the ball feels as if itÂs coming off the putter differently, it can make a difference.Â
And while Grace might have missed a few, heÂs pretty confident about his game.
His pursuers know it too. Said Hugo, who won the Vodacom Origins of Golf series opener in Pretoria: ÂWe have to catch him. The way he is playing, heÂs the man to beat. He could have been leading my two if he didnÂt have some bad luck.Â