Missed putts but Branden still lying second at Simola

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.

“I had a couple of eagle putts that didn’t go in,” he said, “otherwise it could have been even better, but I’m 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.

Karmis’ 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.

“Those happen in any round,” said Grace, “but 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, I’m sure.”

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: “There aren’t that many tournaments in this part of the world, so it’s good to be able to play here,” he said.

He, like Pistorius, has been honing his game on the Sunshine Big Easy Tour presented by Stonehage. “Those extra competitive rounds definitely help me keep my game grooved,” 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. “I just put a new putter in my bag this week, and it’s working out well,” he said. “So much of putting is in the head, but even if the ball feels as if it’s coming off the putter differently, it can make a difference.”

And while Grace might have missed a few, he’s pretty confident about his game.

His pursuers know it too. Said Hugo, who won the Vodacom Origins of Golf series opener in Pretoria: “We have to catch him. The way he is playing, he’s the man to beat. He could have been leading my two if he didn’t have some bad luck.”

© 2016 Sunshine Tour. All rights reserved. Website constructed by OCS Sport