“I didn’t hit the ball that well on the front and then I made birdie on nine, which really turned things around. I took a five-iron off the tee to give myself a chance and then played my wedge to eight feet and sank the putt, which set up for a great second nine,” he said.
The R1,2-million tournament employs a modified stableford scoring system that awards eight points for an albatross, five for an eagle and two for a birdie. Zero points are awarded for par, while a bogey costs one points and a double bogey or worse costs two points.
There is a new bonus of R50 000 that goes to the three players who make the most points each day, which, coupled with the format of the tournament, means that professionals must play attacking golf.
Royal Swazi Sun Country Club is 6140 metres in length, making it the shortest track on the Sunshine Tour circuit. The course is ripe for the picking and West managed to capitalise on day one and made 14 points.
“You mature as you play more on tour. I think every round is different and you have to stay as positive as you can. You can birdie every single hole on this course, and when you don’t then you start to put pressure on yourself. Today it took some time for me to settle down, but once I relaxed then I started to hit it really good,” said the 26-year-old, who was runner up in the Sunshine Tour’s 2014 Rookie of the Year Race.
Over the next few days West will have to chase down early leader Doug McGuigan, who racked up 17 points during a superb opening round.
“Any day you make nine birdies is a good one,” said McGuigan. “I started hitting the ball flush and made some putts, so it all came together out there today.”
JC Ritchie, who finished third at the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open a month ago, scored 13 points during the first round to hold third place, while Grant Veenstra was fourth on 11 points.