Ryan Cairns let the bad weather at last year’s Nelson Mandela Championship affect his game, so when the storms rolled in during round one this week he decided to put it out of his mind and play the course as he found it.
“This week I decided that no matter how much it rains, no matter how many delays, there is still a golf course to play and there’s still going to be someone posting numbers. You’ve just got to have a good attitude about it,” he said.
That resilience and maturity led to an opening 65 by the Zimbabwean and he headed up the Southern African hunt for Englishman Daniel Brooks, who led on eight-under.
Heavy rains made Mount Edgecombe Country Club play very differently to normal during the first round on Thursday, which was delayed by seven hours.
“Last year my regret at Royal Durban was that I got really bummed out by the weather. From a patience factor I came out today thinking about being positive. It’s going to help my patience a lot, having been through last year,” said the Zimbabwean.
Once the players got out there it became clear that scoring was on the cards, despite the course being adjusted to a par 70 after the 293-metre (320-yard) par-four fifth was converted into a 130-metre (142-yard) par-three because the fairway was so waterlogged.
“I kept saying ‘we’ve got another delay, and another delay…’ and that way you get into a funk,” said Cairns. “Whereas Scott Jamieson came out and shot two rounds and won the tournament. Now he’s a European Tour winner and he’s played WGC events.”
Jaco Ahlers was the leading South African on Thursday evening after play was suspended due to bad light. The big man from Skukuza worked his way around in four-under-par 66 to share seventh with Frenchmen Adrien Saddier and Victor Riu and Argentina’s Estanislao Goya.