A rediscovered love for the game saw Merrick Bremner soar to a superlative nine-under-par 63 and a two-stroke lead in the first round of the R600,000 Vodacom Origins of golf event at Selborne Park Golf Club.
His error-free tour around the 5,592-metre KwaZulu Natal estate saw him comfortably in the lead over defending champion Adilson Da Silva on seven-under 65, Neil Schietekat and Gert Myburgh on 66, with a group of five players on five-under-par 67.
“I’ve found my love for the game again, and it just feels good to be out here,” said Bremner. “It’s not contending that gets the adrenaline going. It’s just playing to have fun and trying to make as many birdies as I can. If you place too much pressure on yourself, then you’re not enjoying the game anymore.”
That kind of apparently carefree approach covers up a new determination which sees him inside the top 20 on the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, with every chance that he’s going to improve substantially with his current run of form.
It also saw him rake in seven birdies and an eagle two on the short 267-metre 18th. “I got lucky on 18,” he said. “I went for the green with my driver and hit it in the greenside bunker, and managed to hole the bunker shot.”
The reality is, however, that players make that kind of luck for themselves, and, for Bremner, facing the challenges posed by the course at Selborne. “It’s a course that’s kind of demanding when it comes to getting yourself into position off the tees,” he said. “There are a lot of doglegs, a lot of blind tee shots and so on.
“I did that well, and put myself in a good position to make some putts and birdies – and managed to do it,” he added.
Like others, he restricted his use of driver, but, unlike others, there were times – like on 18 – when he couldn’t resist. “I didn’t hit driver too many times,” he laughed. “It was about four or five times.”
That eagle on 18 set him off on a run of three consecutive birdies after he turned – he started his round on 10 – and it was that little burst of scoring that set up his closing 31 and his dominance of the first round.
Da Silva got a wake-up call when he saw Bremner’s score on a leaderboard at the sixth, and he set about making sure he ate into a good chunk of that lead. He countered the single bogey on his card with six birdies and an eagle on the 510-metre third.
Schietekat was flawless with his 66, but not as spectacularly as Bremner, while rookie Myburgh, who made his first cut as a professional in the Vodacom Origins event at Simola earlier in the month, had six birdies and an eagle, offset by a single bogey on 10.