Versfeld makes no mistake as he takes round one lead in Pretoria

Rookie Allan Versfeld finished the first round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Pretoria Country Club on Friday at four-under-par 68 to lead a professional tournament for the first time.

He leads Justin Harding and the Attie Schwartzel by a single stroke in the R540,000 Sunshine Tour event.

And he rode his luck as he carded the only bogey-free round of the day. “I got a few very lucky breaks,” he said, “like on the 18th where my driver went straight in the pot bunker, hit the face and bounced out by about a foot and I ended up making birdie from a position where I looked as if I would be lucky to make par.”

Keeping bogeys off the card on a day which started very cold, and which saw the wind come up during the morning and die down in the afternoon, was quite an achievement.

But Versfeld’s recipe was simple: “I hit the ball straight and putted well,” he said.

Harding also managed to keep his round going forward with some patience in the face of adversity. He made successive bogeys on 12 and 13, a birdie on 14 and then pulled off a great up-and-down for par on 15.

“That up-and down was quite interesting,” he said. “I hit it about 20 metres left and the pin was tucked left. I bumped one through the bunkers and made about a 25-footer.”

Schwartzel took a leaf out of brother Charl’s book and applied a little patience to his golf: “I’m just trying to play clever,” he said of his three-under-par 69 which saw him level with Harding.

“I used to make stupid mistakes,” he said, “and now I’m just trying to stay out of the bunkers, and if I’m in trouble, I try and chip it out and make par.”

The 2009 champion in this event Brandon Pieters finished his first round strokes behind Versfeld, sharing fourth place with Chris Swanepoel and Vaughn Groenewald.

Adilson Da Silva, who won the previous Sunshine Tour event a fortnight ago at Sun City, Pretoria Country Club’s own George Coetzee, Trevor Fisher Jnr and Ulrich van den Berg all carded one-under-par 71s.

Van den Berg’s round included a hole-in-one on the 144-metre 14th – his fourth career ace.

Versfeld, who is leading the 2011 Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year race, was not willing to think too far ahead, or even be happy to be in the lead for the first time as a pro. “I just add up my scores and see what that means at the end of the tournament,” he said.

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