Ulrich beats wind to share early lead at Sishen

Ulrich van den Berg overcame a breezy day at Sishen Golf Club and carded 68 for a share of the early lead in round one of the Vodacom Origins of Golf event on Wednesday.

Van den Berg joined Jean Hugo and Louis Calitz at four-under after turning in 32 after a back-nine start in hot but windy conditions in the Northern Cape.

The highlight of Van den Berg’s round came on the par-four 18th when he took a gap wedge from 118 metres and holed the shot for eagle. During practice yesterday, Van den Berg used the same wedge on the ninth and sank from 122 metres.

Van den Berg preceded the eagle on 18 with birdies on the 11th, 13th and 15th, and despite a drop on 17 turned at four-under. “This course is a hidden gem,” said the six-time tournament winner.

The wind picked up as the day progressed, and Van den Berg’s pace slowed as he moved onto the back nine. “It’s was really tricky on some of the cross-wind tee shots,” said Van den Berg.

The dryness of winter has left the greens slightly dry, and Van den Berg could not capitalise on several putts for birdie. “I’m a bit disappointed because I left a few six-foot putts out there,” said the Serengeti Golf Estate professional.

Van den Berg enjoyed his round with playing partner Clinton Whitelaw, and said: “It’s great to play with a past SA Open champion and someone who knows so much about the game.”

Jean Hugo, a four-time winner on the Vodacom Origins of Golf Tour, carded 34 on either side of the turn and an eagle on the sixth was the highlight of his share of the early lead.

Louis Calitz enjoyed his first lead in a tournament after carding eagles on the 11th and the 15th. “I just thought: keep it in play and take advantage of the par-fives,” he said.

Van den Berg came sixth in the 2010 Sishen event, and today’s early lead at 68 means he should be expected to go low this week.

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