Jonathan Caldwell’s early season struggles continued in Johannesburg as he opened the Steyn City Championship with a five-over 77.
The Clandeboye man has battled injury early in the year, which he is still working his way back from, but is desperately seeking some form having missed six cuts in his last seven events on the DP World Tour.
It looks like he is going to make it seven in eight unless he produces an incredible transformation in fortunes in Friday’s second round, the 37-year-old unable to produce a single birdie in his opening round at The Club at Steyn City.
After seven straight pars to start, Caldwell dropped his first shot on the par-four eighth, but it was on the back-nine where things unraveled as he saw shots go at the 12th, 14th, 15th and 17th.
At five-over, the Scandinavian Mixed champion sits 154th of 156 competitors and is eight shots off the projected cut line, let alone the lead in Johannesburg.
The lead is held by South Africa’s James Hart du Preez, whose nine-under 63 has him one shot clear of fellow South Africans Jaco Ahlers and Shaun Norris, who carded 64s, as did Italy’s Nino Bertasio.
Du Preez could have been even further ahead as he strongly flirted with a 59, producing two eagles and two birdies in a six-under back nine – having started at the 10th – and then adding five more birdies in the first seven holes of the front nine.
Needing to finish with back-to-back birdies – which would have been six straight birdies to close if he’d completed it – he instead dropped back-to-back shots at the eighth and ninth instead to see his lead cut to one after a 63.
All three of Ahlers, Norris and Bertasio were bogey-free on day one in Steyn City, the latter two signing for eight birdies while Ahlers had an eagle and six birdies, with five players, including George Coetzee and Romain Langasque, a shot further back after 65s.