Steady was the word of the day for Scott Arnold on Thursday after an opening 65 at the Outeniqua course at Fancourt Golf and Country Estate moved him into a share of the lead at the Dimension Data Pro-Am.
ÂIt was a great way to start. I played really solid and holed some putts, so IÂll just keep doing what IÂm doing and that should be alright for the week,Â he said.
The Australian is enjoying the atmosphere of the R3,75-million tournament, where the professionals play a round at The Links, Outeniqua and Montagu courses at Fancourt, followed by a final round on Montagu.
ÂItÂs lovely here, exactly like Australia with the sun out, so itÂs great to play here. IÂm from Sydney in New South Wales, so IÂm used to 30- or 40-mile-an-hour winds.Â
Arnold began the first day with two consecutive birdies and then continued to shine, making a further two before the turn, a fifth at 12 and then an eagle at 17 to lead in the clubhouse.
Justin Harding chased down that lead over his final holes at Montagu, making two birdies in his last three holes to claim a share of the first-round lead.
ÂIÂm pleased with today, because I played well from tee to green and putted fantastically,Â said Harding. ÂThere are three rounds to come, and IÂll try to get into a good position for Sunday and then try to take on the trophy,Â he said.
Chasing the two young leaders were European Tour veterans Hennie Otto and Simon Dyson, who both shot six-under-par 66 at Outeniqua.
ÂSome big shoes to fill back there,Â said Arnold. ÂIÂm not going to worry about what they do Â I canÂt control that. IÂm just going to go out and play the best that I can, at the end of the week if I win thatÂs great, but otherwise IÂll know that IÂve done the best I can,Â he said.
It was only two years ago that Otto lifted the Dimension Data Pro-Am trophy, and the two-time European Tour winner loomed on six-under.
ÂItÂs fun and serious this week Â there is a balance. If you want to score in this tournament itÂs on Outeniqua, and IÂm glad I could go low today and get the tournament off to such a good start,Â he said.
EnglandÂs Dyson, a six-time European Tour winner himself, was enthusiastic after his opening 66 and relished his time in the sun.
ÂEverything was good today and itÂs absolutely beautiful here. ItÂs always a pleasure to come back and play in South Africa and when I get a chance to come I take it,Â he said.
Seven players shared fifth on five-under-par, four of whom played the Montagu course and two who played Outeniqua.
At The Links, which is a par-73 and the toughest layout of the three courses, Jared Harvey carded an impressive 68 for his share of fifth. The Fancourt Foundation graduate was happy to have done so well at a course that punishes mistakes.
ÂMy playing partner, Francois Pienaar, asked me which course I respect the most at Fancourt and I told him it was definitely The Links. I would have taken even-par before I teed off today, so itÂs great to start five under,Â he said.