Garth Mulroy carded an opening 64 at East London Golf Club on Thursday and set up a good platform for the week as he joined an early share of the lead during round one of the Africa Open Golf Challenge.
“It’s always nice to start the week this way. Usually we don’t get weather like this here, but I’m not complaining. The scores are definitely out there, you’ve just got to make some putts,” he said.
The 2012 Alfred Dunhill Championship winner had a flash of brilliance over the front stretch, where he framed an eagle at the third with birdies at the second and fourth. That put him ahead for the first time and he went on to share the morning lead with Rhys Davies and Richard Bland on seven-under-par.
“For my eagle I took driver and then had 195 metres to the flag,” said Mulroy. “I hit six-iron just behind the pin and made about a 15-footer. It helps to move like that, seeing a few putts go in definitely makes the hole look a bit bigger.”
The three-time Sunshine Tour winner started on the back nine, but it was only after the turn that he began the fast scoring. Four birdies and an eagle led to an inward nine of 30 strokes for Mulroy, who enjoyed a return to the top of the leaderboard.
“I am pleased to be up there. I played okay on my first nine, but only turned one-under. On the second nine I made a few putts and got it going. I think that on the front side of the course there are a few short par fours and with good shots you can make some easy birdies,” he said.
Davies was also glad to return to contention.
“I haven’t had the greatest form over the last couple of years, so it’s really nice to have a good round under my belt. It was a lovely start this morning, I enjoyed it, and I’ll try to do the same again tomorrow,” he said.
The 2010 Trophee Hassan II winner made an impressive eight birdies in the benign conditions, taking full advantage of the shortest course on the European Tour circuit.
“There are plenty of choices out there. You can be quite aggressive at times and more conservative at others. Lots of risk and reward, which makes it exciting to watch and good to play. The wind was down this morning and there was a score to be made out there. I was lucky enough to capitalise, so it was a good start for me,” he said.
David Drysdale, Gregory Bourdy, and John Hahn made up the chasing pack and were tied for fourth place on six-under. Defending champion Darren Fichardt joined a nine-way tie for seventh place on five-under-par.