“It was a good round of golf with minimal errors and the course was very playable today,” he said. “The greens are very receptive and the rough is not yet where they want it for the SA Open, so you can get away with one or two loose shots.”
The six-time Sunshine Tour winner stayed focused in the windy afternoon conditions and stretched out a two-stroke lead over a traffic jam at the top the leaderboard. He was soon joined by Hennie Otto, who eagled the 13th and 15th to catch up.
“I kept three holes going together," said van den Berg. "I could have made bogeys but instead made pars and that was a big momentum shift for my day. In the end I made a couple of putts to finish seven under for the round,” he said.
The Serengeti Golf Estate professional started the back nine with a birdie at the 10th and continued to birdie every alternate hole from there onwards, eventually carding 31 for the second loop and rising into pole position.
The BMG Classic heralds the beginning of summer on the Sunshine Tour and while van den Berg’s round was exceptional, he had the maturity to take it in his stride.
“The golf course is really strong and if you make mistakes here you’re going to pay. I’m not going to get ahead of myself. I’m very proud of the round and it’s just nice to get off to a good start,” he said.
Hennie Otto made short work of the back nine, making two birdies and two eagles to wrap up his inward loop in 30 blows. That gave the three-time European Tour winner a share of lead at the close of round one.
"It’s nice to be home, the weather is good and the golf course is in nice condition. I’ve been working hard and managed to pull it through today," he said.