17th May 2019 | Sunshine Tour
Lawrence’s best is good for Lombard lead
It was his best round on the Sunshine Tour, and Thriston Lawrence’s nine-under-par 63 on Friday was good enough to give him a share of the first-round lead of the 54-hole Lombard Insurance Classic at the Royal Swazi Spa Country Club.
He made five birdies in a row on his homeward nine after starting his round on the 10th to close in 29 and put the cap on his 63 – one better than a 2018 Dimension Data Pro-Am round, and a total which was later matched by Jacques Blaauw as the pair shared a one-stroke edge over Aubrey Beckley and Jaco Ahlers who each carded eight-under-par 64s.
“I’m very happy to close with a 29, and quite surprised,” said Lawrence. “I started off quite slowly. I didn’t hit it great but I was always there or thereabouts. The putter wasn’t too warm on my front nine. I got a chip-in on 18 and that gave me momentum. I was thinking I had to do a good job to make par there, and I made birdie!
“And then I found some rhythm on the third hole where I hit a good eight-iron to three foot to make birdie. Everything worked out very nicely from there. I made every putt I looked at. My putter surprised me. I made 25 putts. I’ve been struggling with the putter for a long time now, so I’m very pleased.”
He had just 25 putts in his round, the same number as Blaauw, who closed with an extraordinary run of seven consecutive birdies. Blaauw had started his round on the 10th, too, and had made just one birdie at his turn. He raced home in 28, making eight birdies, and just a single par – on the second – on his homeward nine.
“It’s my best-ever birdie run,” said Blaauw. “It came after I drive the green on the first – something I’ve never done – and I just missed an eight-footer for eagle. I made the birdie, and I thought if I could go four or five-under on the homeward nine, I’d be happy.
“Clearly, I’m more than happy with what I got out of the round.”
For Lawrence, a good start was important for him as he goes in search of a maiden Sunshine Tour win after his share of second in last season’s Tour Championship, and his share of sixth in the Investec Royal Swazi Open at the same course a fortnight ago.
“My weakness has always been that I don’t start really well,” he said. “I’ve always been on the cut line, so starting quite hot might give me a good chance on Sunday.
“This course, if you hit it straight off the tee and your iron play is good – it’s not a long golf course – you can be very attacking on it. I hit a lot of drivers, so if that goes to plan, you have a lot of wedge shots in. I made it quite easy for myself today.
“The modified stableford scoring of a couple of weeks ago helps. You have less fear and you have a more aggressive mental approach for the round. It’s the same course, so I’ll do more of the same for the rest of the tournament.”