Naidoo, the former South African U19 stroke-play champion, carded eight birdies and an eagle to lead the 111-man field.
“Yeah I played really nicely today. The course was there to score on and I think I did as well as I needed to do today. I thought eight or nine-under would be leading, and I wasn’t expecting to be outright leader. I made a couple of silly drops on the two par-three’s, but overall I’m pretty happy with the way I’ve played today,” said Naidoo.
The layout at Observatory Golf Club focuses on accuracy rather than length, and Naidoo says his recent amateur golf has lead to his fine form of late.
“We just finished up in the Challenge IPT in the amateur stuff, so I’ve been playing a lot of golf recently and I’m quite happy with the way it’s been going. Just playing a lot of golf I’m comfortable with the way I’m hitting it. I know exactly where my miss is and I’m looking forward to tomorrow,” he said.
“The golf course is set up in a way that you can make birdie on pretty much the majority of the holes out there if you play them the way you are supposed to. You can hit wedges into almost every green and I’m glad my wedges were pretty good today and the putter co-operated as well,” he added.
England’s Jeff Inglis is Naidoo’s nearest challenger, after carding a bogey-free seven-under-par 65 that was made up of five birdies and an eagle at the par-five seventh.
“It was good. It’s basically just some good memories on this course. The last Big Easy we had here I shot a course record 62 – also opening round,” said Inglis.
“You have to fire. You’ve got to come out lashing and luckily I’ve had a bit of experience in the Big Easy before with a couple of wins. You’ve really got to be aggressive and fire otherwise you won’t be up there,” added Inglis.
Eddie Taylor finds himself two back of Naidoo on six-under-par, while Thanda Mavundla, Chris Erasmus and Pieter Kruger are three off the lead in five-under-par.
In the two-day event, players need an aggressive game plan and Naidoo has a number in mind in order to seal a win.
“It’s going to be pretty close. There will probably be four or five guys that shoot low scores today. You still have to go in and play the same game tomorrow and I’m guessing probably about 15 or 16-under will win it and that’s what I’ll be aiming for,” said Naidoo.