Brandon Pieters embraced the necessary habit of practice again and it showed as he raced to a seven-under-par 65 on Thursday in the opening round of the R550,000 Sun City Challenge being played at the Lost City Golf Course.
ÂToday showed what a bit of practice in the last week or two can do,Â said Pieters, who held the early clubhouse lead by one from Andrew Georgiou, Bryce Easton and Daniel Hammond.
The 36-year-old Pieters who plays out of Benoni Lake had a golden 2009 when he won three tournaments, and he won again in 2010. And after three top-10s in 2011, he was in a bit of a slump in 2012 with three missed cuts and a best of a share of 11th in the Investec Royal Swazi Open at the beginning of the month.
ÂPractice is just hard work, really,Â he said. ÂIf you want to get somewhere in this game, youÂve got to work really hard and IÂve just had a lot of things on my plate this year. But IÂve been given an opportunity to play and practice again, so IÂm going to take it with both hands.Â
He started quietly, with a birdie and a bogey in his first four holes Â ÂThe bogey was just a silly little block shot on the par-three 13th,Â he said Â but then he was faultless for the rest of the round, picking up seven more birdies.
ÂIf you reflect on my recent good years,Â he said, ÂI was always there or in with a shout, so IÂm trying to get back to that form where IÂm competing week-in and week-out again.Â
His round trumped a fine effort by rookie Hammond, who only made it into the main draw of the tournament in a playoff for the final spot with a one-under 71.
He was five strokes better in the opening round with seven birdies and a bogey, all the more remarkable given it was only his second time around the 6,983-metre Lost City layout.
Easton also had a bogey in his round, but five birdies and an eagle helped him on his way; Georgiou was error-free in his round, continuing a good run for him lately, and it has come in tome for his maiden appearance in next monthÂs Open Championship.