Cormac Sharvin and Jonathan Caldwell opened their South African Open accounts with even par rounds of 72 as the last of the European Tour’s three-tournament South Africa swing made its way to Sun City in Johannesburg.
Hoping to build on his top-25 finish last week at the Alfred Dunhill Championship, Ardglass professional Sharvin carded two birdies and two bogeys on day one at Gary Player Country Club. At even par, the 28-year old sits in a share of 28th after a tough opening day with Clandeboye professional Caldwell alongside him after mirroring his compatriot’s play with a brace of birdies cancelled out by a brace of bogeys on Thursday. After sitting out last weekend at Leopard Creek, the 36-year old will be eager to end his tour of South Africa on a high having enjoyed a top-35 finish on week one at the Joburg Open.
Meanwhile, Christiaan Bezuidenhout opened with a five-under-par 67 to place him in a six-way tie for the first-round lead as he chases back-to-back victories on the Sunshine Tour and European Tour’s South African Swing. The winner of last week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship picked up where he left off at Leopard Creek as he made six birdies and only one bogey at the Gary Player Country Club on Thursday to join fellow South Africans Dean Burmester, Jacques Kruyswijk and Ruan Korb as well as Austria’s Matthias Schwab and Italian Aron Zemmer in the lead.
“I got off to a nice start and turned five under par, then I birdied my 10th hole to get to six under,” said Bezuidenhout, who teed off the 10th. But with the nines swapped for this tournament, he faced the more difficult nine as his second nine, and which was compounded by a strong wind which seemed to also put a chill on his putter.
“The putter just went cold. I just couldn’t make the putts coming in. The wind also picked up which made it more tricky. But it’s nice to have a good start and hopefully I can keep the momentum going and put myself in a good position come Sunday.”
Schwab played with Bezuidenhout and said he fed off the South African’s fast start on the first nine: “I just tried to keep up with him. Then it got a little bit windy and I just kept the score together coming in. Overall it was good and it’s nice to be bogey-free,” he said after a round of three birdies and an eagle.
The leaders are one stroke clear of Frenchman Matthieu Pavon and South Africa’s Dylan Frittelli. Frittelli also said the wind stopped the momentum he had built up to get to seven under through 10 holes before three bogeys coming in.
“It was a tale of two nines. I played really well on the first nine and everything was just flawless, and then I played poorly on the back. The wind got up which made it tricky. But it was a decent start. As long as I’m within two or three shots going into the final round I feel like I have a good shot.”
Full scoring HERE