Vaughn opens fast in MTC Namibia PGA Championship

Vaughn Groenewald opened the R1.2-million MTC Namibia PGA Championship with a flawless eight-under-par 63 on Thursday to take the early first round lead.

He started on the 10th hole of the 6,570-metre par-71 Windhoek Country Club, and promptly racked up a birdie, an eagle and a second birdie in succession to be four-under through three holes.

He never relinquished his grip, picking up a third birdie on the 15th – his sixth for the day – and then making three more birdies in a row from the fifth to the seventh as he closed two shots clear of Christiaan Basson.

With heavy rains making the course soggy, many players found the going tough, but Groenewald saw the dampness as a positive: “With it being so wet, it means that the ball doesn’t roll as far when you hit it off line,” he said.

“And, if you miss the green, it generally stays close, so you have a better chance of getting up and down,” he added.

Basson, although shorter off the tee – as well as in stature – than Groenewald, felt the same about the wet course.

He was just relieved that the swing changes he made ahead of the Dimension Data Pro-Am in February have taken effect. “It wasn’t quite right at Di Data,” he said, “but they seemed to be better at the Telkom PGA Championship.

“Now it felt settled in this bogey-free round,” he added.

Behind Basson in an early share of third place was a group consisting of nine players, including multiple Sunshine Tour title holders Michiel Bothma, Jean Hugo, Darren Fichardt and Trevor Fisher Jnr.

With them were Branden Grace who won his maiden professional title last year and Oliver Bekker who is looking for his first.

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