Caldwell opens up on Route 66 on hot scoring day in South Africa

Adam McKendry

Jonathan Caldwell (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Jonathan Caldwell produced a strong six-under bogey-free effort in his opening round at the MyGolfLife Open in Hartbeespoort, South Africa but it was only good enough to see him just break into the top-20 after day one.

The Clandeboye man carded six birdies in a 66 that already has him trailing South African pair Hennie du Plessis and Tristen Strydom, Spain’s Nacho Elvira and England’s Ross Fisher by four shots.

The quartet all shot 10-under 62s to claim a share of the lead on an excellent scoring day in South Africa, with Fisher coming close to a round of 59 had he birdied his final two holes.

Despite trailing by four, Caldwell will still be pleased with his day’s work as he evenly spread his birdies on a consistent day at Pecanwood Golf & Country Club, the 37-year-old among the later wave of starters knowing he needed to go low after some good scoring in the morning.

But he would pick up his shots in bunches, kicking off his day with back-to-back birdies on the fourth and fifth, following it up with two more at the ninth and 10th and then repeating the trick once more at the 14th and 15th.

In a share of 20th after the first round, Caldwell will be hoping he can continue this form and record a first top-20 finish since his win at the Scandinavian Mixed last June, although he will need to maintain his scoring to move into contention.

Meanwhile, Fisher flirted with the first sub-60 round since the DP World Tour’s rebrand as he played his first 16 holes in 11-under, although needing two birdies to create history he would bogey the par-three eighth – his 17th hole – to slip back into a share of the lead.

Local pair Du Plessis and Strydom – who finished second at last week’s Manguang Open – had opposing paths to their 62s, Du Plessis finishing strongly with three straight birdies to reach 10-under, while Strydom rode the momentum of six birdies in his first seven holes on his way to a fine round.

And Elvira had an adventurous day of his own, seemingly on course for a back nine consisting of just 27 strokes having racked up seven straight birdies, the Spaniard would par his final two instead to settle for another 62.

The quartet’s lead is just one shot from Pablo Larrazabal, whose 10 birdies and one bogey led to a 63, with South Africa’s JC Ritchie looking to add a DP World Tour win to the two Challenge Tour titles he already has this season as he sits alongside Richard Sterne and Nicolai von Dellingshausen at eight-under.

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