Rested Basson leads first round in Swaziland

Christiaan Basson discovered the benefits of rest as he took the first-round lead of the R850,000 Investec Royal Swazi Open with a flurry of birdies.

Starting on the 10th hole of the 6,140-metre Royal Swazi Spa Golf Course, he picked up a birdie immediately, and three more ahead of the turn saw him reach halfway in three-under 33 after a bogey five on the 373-metre 16th.

Then he came roaring home with six birdies and not a dropped shot on his card – an important factor this week as the tournament is played on a modified stableford system, with eight points for an albatross, five for an eagle, two for a birdie and none for par. One point is deducted for every birdie and two for double or worse.

So his closing 30 saw him sign for a 63 and 19 points, a two-point lead over Justin Walters.

His 63 equals his best round as a professional, and his 19-point haul was one fewer than he got in the tournament three years ago.

“I hurt my back doing the Pick ‘n’ Pay Argus Cycle Tour,” he said, “and I had some physiotherapy after that.

“I also picked up a stomach bug, so I have been off for a while. I just practiced the last three weeks, and it’s almost as if time off did me good.” he added.

He’s always enjoyed the different perspective the scoring system of the tournament brings for the players. “The format allows you to play without having a score in the back of your mind,” he said. “You can go ahead and try for a birdie on every hole.”

Walters used that sense of freedom together with what he called “a new attitude”. He believes it takes the pressure off him.

“I don’t think about making cuts anymore, and yesterday, I hardly felt as if I was here for a tournament,” he said.

He started with a bogey on the 10th, and his card had two more dropped shots on it. But he compensated for those lapses with seven birdies and an eagle in his round of seven-under 65.

He was four points clear of early leaders Mark Williams and Albert Pistorius, who had 13 points each, and there was a group of five players sharing fifth on 12 points – Brandon Pieters, Alex Haindl, Divan Gerber, Dough McGuigan and Oliver Bekker.

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