Walters excels in first round over windy Arabella

It was his first competitive round on the Arabella Golf Course, and Justin Walters played the wind like a veteran before darkness brought a halt to the first round of the R540,000 Vodacom Origins of Golf event on Wednesday.

He was four-under-par for his round, having completed 15 holes, giving him a two-stroke edge over Christiaan Basson and Divan van den Heever who finished their rounds after a morning start, and over Ulrich van den Berg, who, like Walters, still had three holes as yet unreported.

“I’m quite pleased that it was called off for the day,” said Walters, “because it will give me a shot at the closing holes in daylight, and perhaps with a little less wind.”

He started his round on the 10th, and quickly got into his work with consecutive birdies on 11, 12 and 13. “This course offers a great mix of holes where you can go for it and others where you have to be pretty careful,” he said. “And, I was putting really well, which is an advantage anywhere,” he added.

He dropped a shot on the 15th, but was quickly back into his stride with another run of three consecutive birdie on 18, one and two.

“I was lucky on two, and I got the wind behind me for my tee shot,” said Walters of the 468-metre par-five second, “and I had just a nine-iron in, so that was a nice birdie.”

He dropped a shot on each of the third and the fourth – “sloppy bogeys” he called them – before making a birdie on the sixth before the darkness began to set in.

It was a day that started without a breath of wind to defend the 6,381-metre course on the largest lagoon in Southern Africa, but that changed fairly quickly and even players in the morning field battled to keep good starts on track.

Basson and Van den Heever agreed that they would have been happy to accept their two-under-par totals had they been offered them ahead of the round, and Merrick Bremner felt the wrath of the wind as he dropped three consecutive shots on his last three holes to slip from four-under to one-under for his round.

Jean Hugo, the man who won the corresponding event at Stellenbosch in last year’s series, struggled his way to two-over-par 74.

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