Ulrich van den Berg fired a two-under-par 70 on Wednesday to take a share of the early first-round lead of the R600,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Euphoria Golf Estate.
Van den Berg, the owner of six Sunshine Tour titles, and with six top-10s to his credit on the tour so far this year, dropped just a single shot in tough conditions to be in a share of the lead with another veteran of the tour, Desvonde Botes.
“It was very blustery this morning,” said Van den Berg, “and it was quite cold as well, and that made the first nine holes very trying.”
He started his round on the par-72 Annika Sorenstam designed 7,040-metre Euphoria layout on the 10th, and a string of seven pars was snapped with a bogey on the 17th. But he held things together well as he birdied one, five and nine coming home to set the clubhouse target.
Part of the difficulty presented by the course is to be found on the greens. “They’re incredible surfaces,” said Van den Berg, “maybe some of the best we have ever played. But they are just lightning-fast, so it’s difficult to leave your ball under the hole, especially after just one practice round to get to know the greens because they’re quite intricate.”
Experience was clearly a major factor in coming to grips with the course, too, as only Neil Schietekat (right) – who is looking for his maiden professional victory after seven years on the Sunshine Tour – managed to join Van den Berg and Botes with an under par score after the morning field had completed their rounds.
“It’s a tough course,” said Van den Berg. “It’s going to beat a few people up out there.”