While Warren Abery was taming The Links at Fancourt on Thursday in the stop-start conditions brought on by rain, defending champion Jaco van Zyl (right) headed a group of four other players who carded five-under-par in the opening round of the Dimension Data Pro-Am.
Play for the first round in the R3.75-million tournament was eventually suspended as darkness fell on a difficult day for the players around the Outeniqua and Montagu layouts and The Links. The tournament consists of three rounds on each of the Fancourt courses ahead of a cut to the top 65 players and ties, who will play the final round on Montagu.
“Five-under-par is a nice start, especially with the stop-start, stop-start going the whole day,” said Van Zyl. “It was very wet out there. Just before the second stoppage, it was really raining hard and the course was unplayable, and, when we got back, the ball wasn’t rolling out, so it was playing very long.”
He made only a single bogey on the Outeniqua course when he dropped a shot on the 14th, but he picked up his sixth birdie of the day on 17 to close out his round.
Joining Van Zyl and Abery on five-under-par was 2007 South African Open champion James Kingston, who battled the effects of flu as well as the elements his way to 67 around Outeniqua. “It wasn’t pleasant out there at all,” he said. “It was really wet underfoot and at times the weather was really bad.
“As the day progressed, the weather did improve, and in the end I got away with a decent day,” he added of his bogey-free round.
Also on five-under-par on Outeniqua was current South African Open Morten Orum Madsen of Denmark. He made eight birdies, but wasn’t able to top the leaderboard on his own with the three bogeys on his card. And the five-way share of the lead was completed by Englishman Richard Finch.
They led by one shot from another Dane, Lukas Bjerregard, while Keenan Davidse had started like a house on fire to be four-under though his six completed holes.