The mercury reached 32 degrees celcius at the Lost City Golf Club on Tuesday, where Steve Surry played golf as hot as the conditions and shot 64 to share the early lead during round one of the Nedbank Affinity Cup.
“I played well and on the few holes where I was struggling I managed to scramble well. It was a good day all around,” said the Englishman.
The 31-year-old has campaigned on the Sunshine Tour for two years, but normally has to pre-qualify for a place in each tournament. This week he snuck in on ranking and has an eye to make the most of his blazing start.
“I’ve been playing the Sunshine Tour for the last couple of years. I just squeezed in as one of the last two guys into the field, so it’s a bit of a bonus playing this week and I’d like to make the most of it,” he said.
The Cumberwell Park professional started on the 10th and immediately made two consecutive birdies. Further gains at the 16th and 18th took him to the turn at four-under.
Four birdies over the front nine, including three in succession from the second to the fourth, boosted Surry to the top on eight-under-par.
“I made a par at the first that got things going,” he said. “I hit it into the trees right and had to chip out, but then I hit a nine-iron to about a foot, so that set the momentum a bit. After that I just tried to play quite conservatively. My distance control was good and that’s the game plan, because the greens are quite narrow, and I ended up scoring well.”
Botswana’s Stuart Smith was the last player off this morning, but soon began to overtake his peers as he sped through the back nine in four-under-par 32.
The 23-year-old from Serengeti Golf Estate went on to make four birdies on the other side of the turn and reached the clubhouse tied for the lead. Avoiding bogeys helped Smith to build momentum throughout the day and his confidence was high at the end of the round, which included birdies at the ninth and 18th.
“I think this is the first time that I’m top of the leaderboard,” he said. “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,” he said.
Leading the chase was young gun Michael Hollick, who racked up six one-putts over his first nine before reaching the clubhouse on seven-under. Neil Cheetham held sole fourth courtesy of a first-round 66 that included eight birdies and two bogeys, while Neil Schietekat and Danie van Tonder shared fifth on five-under.