The seven-time Sunshine Tour winner had a great day on the greens of Lost City Golf Course and shot 30 on his outward nine, which set him up to reach eight-under-par by the end of day one.
“I’ve done a nice job today to get myself into contention. I hit some very close shots and then held the round together by staying patient. There are still 36 holes to go and we’ll take it one round and one shot at a time,” he said.
The 40-year-old was quick to get scoring, despite the Sunshine Tour taking a two-month break over the winter period. He birdied his first five holes and never looked back.
“I’ve taken a long rest and then started practicing about three weeks ago. I made sure I was comfortable with my putter and it made all the difference today,” he said.
“I’ve never seen the greens like this,” he added. “They’re rolling at about 12 on the stimp and are perfect surfaces. It’s testimony to the greenkeeper and his crew, because we’ve come to this course many times over the years and I’ve never seen the greens this quick and perfect.”
Over the second nine his charge slowed down, but experience kept him out of trouble and he went on to add a further two gains before signing for 64.
“I went through a slightly tough stretch from the ninth to the 13th, but managed to keep it together. I’m very chuffed, but there is a long way to go, so today is a nice step in the right direction. You have to carry on going,” he concluded.
Andrew Curlewis managed to chip in for eagle at the par-five 18th, which helped him to take up second place on five-under-par. He was pleased to be in contention so soon after the hiatus.
“After eight weeks break to come out and shoot five-under was good fun. There was an eagle and a double bogey, along with some birdies, so my round was a bit of everything,” he said.