“I think this is the first time that I’m top of the leaderboard,” said the Botswanan. “It’s a great experience and you learn a lot from it. It feels like you can keep it a bit more under control, and it definitely pays off to have these experiences.”
Smith went bogey-free around the Gary Player-designed track and made an impressive eight birdies during the round to share of first with Jacques Blaauw and Englishman Steve Surry.
“The putter was working for me today,” said Smith. “I had a couple of par saves today that really kept the momentum up and when it’s your day, it’s your day.”
His co-leaders are seasoned veterans and the next two rounds will be a learning experience for the 23-year-old, whose first top-10 result came at the Wild Waves Challenge in August.
“Tomorrow I want to play the holes as they are and not try anything amazing, because that paid off for me today,” he said.
Surry set the clubhouse lead early in the day, but was soon joined by Smith. Afternoon starter Blaauw birdied the 18th to complete the three-way tie at the top.
“I played nicely,” said Blaauw. “The greens are a little slow, but for me that’s good because I could go for it a bit more. I’m happy with this round and I’m catching a bit of form before the big tournaments.”
Michael Hollick held sole fourth on seven-under, while Englishman Neil Cheetham completed the top five on six-under.