Schietekat enjoys calm conditions in George

Calm weather tamed The Links, Fancourt and Neil Schietekat took full advantage at the par-73 on Thursday, shooting an opening 67 for round one of the Dimension Data Pro-Am.

“The conditions were good. It picked up over about three holes, and I wouldn’t say it was easy – I don’t think you can ever say that about Links golf – but it was a lot easier than the way we normally play it,” he said.

All players have a round each on the Outeniqua, Montagu and The Links courses, ahead of the cut and the final round on Montagu, and Schietekat’s 67 left him a stroke shy of co-leaders Warren Abery and Oliver Bekker.

Last year Schietekat made it to The Open through International Final Qualifying. The experience he gained from playing the links course at Royal St. George’s showed at Fancourt on Thursday – he minimized mistakes and made just one bogey, which came at the 15th. The performance stood in stark contrast to the 77 he shot at The Links during last year’s Di-Data Pro-Am. “I think that since The Open I haven’t played that well, but I have a new spring in my step and I’m playing nicely,” he said.

Schietekat had a quiet start, but a birdie at the fifth provided the boost he needed and by the seventh he was charging and made a further three birdies before the turn.

Further birdies at 13, 14 and 16 secured his round and the 28-year-old finished at six-under-par, one stroke off Bekker and Abery. “I feel good to be one shot behind the lead, but there is still a long way to go,” said Schietekat.

He heads for the Montagu course on Friday, where Bekker stormed through the back stretch in 31 blows to take his share of the lead. Schietekat was optimistic about the course, and added: “I feel pretty good about playing the Montagu course. I’ve changed to a long putter, which I’ve used for about 10 rounds, and it’s feeling solid, so we’ll see how things come together tomorrow.”

Warren Abery took the Outeniqua course head-on, gritting his teeth through a bogey at the first and going on to card eight birdies during the round.

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