His last finish inside the top 10 on the Sunshine Tour came back in 2010 when Alan Michell finished in fifth place behind winner Warren Abery. So he was especially pleased when a small swing change suggested by his brother helped him open the R650,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf event presented by Samsung at St Francis Links with a five-under-par 67 to take a share of the early lead.
“I’ve been playing better golf lately,” said Michell. “I just having been playing in tournaments that much because I’ve been teaching back home. And my brother helped me with my swing. I was hitting the ball a bit high and he just told the ball was too far forward in my stance.
“The result was I was able to play consistently out there today. I hit 13 fairways, and, to be fair, I left a few shots out there. I made two good putts, as you do when you’re playing well, but I didn’t have a lot of luck. I could have been three or four better, but that’s a good sign. I’m very happy to put 67 on the board at St Francis Links. I think it’s the first time I’ve broken 70 on this course.
“On this course, you could just be a metre either side of the slopes, and you could shoot a score that’s not so good. But if you catch the right slopes… Luckily, I’ve played here quite a bit, so I was able to use a bit of local knowledge. That’s especially true on the greens, where you can use the back slopes to bring it back.”
His 67 saw him grab an early three-way share of the lead with Jean Hugo and Ulrich van den Berg, but he was acutely conscious of the fact that there were still two rounds to go in the 54-hoile event. “It’s nice to get a good score early, and I hope I can follow it up with a good score tomorrow,” he said.
“It’s good to be hitting the ball where I want to again with the same shape every shot. It’s been a battle the last couple of years with very few good showings to keep me going. And even though I’m teaching now, I still want to play on this tour and I still want to compete – otherwise I wouldn’t be doing it,” he added.