Tyrone Mordt set up his challenge for the lead when he shot 66 to head up the afternoon field of the Â1-million SA Open Championship at Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate on Thursday.
His six-under-par card earned him a share of third – enough to keep his sights on leaders Jbe Kruger and Steven OÂHara, who finished one stroke ahead.
ÂI was nervous coming into the day, but I played nicely. IÂm very happy with where I am,Â said Mordt.
He has shown solid form building up to his national open – in the last month the 28-year-old has taken tied sixth at the Nedbank Affinity Cup and sole second at the Nashua Masters, events which he led on day one and two respectively.
He started on the back nine and birdied the par-five 11th and bogeyed the par-three 12th. That would be his last wobble of the nine and he carded birdies at the 16th and 18th to turn at two-under. ÂI started off well and got into a good rhythm early,Â he said.
His second nine started in a similar fashion to his first: he was quick to recover a dropped shot at the par-four 2nd with a birdie at the par-five 3rd.
Mordt overcame gusty conditions and made four consecutive birdies from the fifth to the eighth. It was the longest birdie run of the day and boosted him to his share of third. ÂI think my iron play was really good. And it has to be around here: to make birdies you have to hit irons to the right parts of the green,Â he said.
Kruger made seven birdies and no drops during his flawless morning round. ÂYou need to hit it pin-high, and at least I did that from the start today. I think thatÂs the key around here,Â said Kruger.
OÂHara doused a bogey at the 4th with an eagle at the 8th and went on to card three birdies on the back stretch before signing for 65. ÂA good first round, and hopefully I can put four rounds together. I really need a good finish this week, so that would be great,Â he said.
Mordt has set himself up to take the lead, and the last monthÂs results have helped him understand how to stay calm at the top.
ÂIÂve just got to be more comfortable when IÂm up there. Slow things down and play my own game Â thatÂs my strategy,Â he said.