Tom McKibbin’s assault at the DP World Tour’s Jonsson Workwear Open is off to a fine start after the Holywood man shot a four-under 68 on day one at Johannesburg’s The Club at Steyn City.
Coming off back-to-back solid performances in Kenya and Southern Cape in the preceding weeks, hopes were high that the DP World Tour rookie would put in another fine display as the tour moved inland to the near mile-high course on the outskirts of South Africa’s largest city.
Among the early starters, McKibbin began rather slowly, parring the first and making a bogey-five on the second, but he steadied the ship by taking care of the par-5 third before adding another birdie at the seventh which took him to the midpoint at -1. He’d birdie the par-5 10th to get to -2, before back-to-back birdies at 16 and 17 saw him move into the top-10, albeit before the afternoon wave had yet to emerge.
He’d close out the day with a par at the last, but without any discernable wind picking up in the afternoon, the low scoring continued.
South Africans Darren Fichardt and Martin Vorster top the board at the end of day one, the former putting together a bogey-free round that included eight birdies as part of the early wave, before eventually being joined at the head of the field by his compatriot. Vorster, out in the afternoon, also went bogey-free, but his 64 comprised six birdies and an eagle.
“I started with two birdies and I just carried on with the momentum,“ Fichardt said afterwards. “I didn’t have a great warm-up so my first two holes I was like, ‘just swing easy and try and get it in the fairway and try and get it close to the green’ and I managed to make birdie and then did two good shots in the next hole and that was me, it was just staying consistent the rest of the round.
“Once you get off to a hot start, there’s no fixing up to do. So you just keep riding the wave.
“A good start always makes it easier for the rest of the week. Obviously to expect to do an eight-under tomorrow again is… it’s just go out and start the tournament over again, play one-round tournaments.”
Later on, Vorster voiced similar thoughts, highlighting the benefit that a fast start to the tournament provides. “Really happy with the start,” he said. “I hit the ball really well today tee to green, gave myself plenty of opportunities and ended up making a few putts, so a very solid start to the tournament.
“It’s a great spot to be in,” he added, “but same gameplan tomorrow, we’re not going to change anything. Tee to green keep it the same and hopefully make a few putts again.”
A South African with undoubted Irish heritage, Hennie O’Kennedy, lies one stroke further back, alongside Swedish duo Sebastian Söderberg and Joakim Lagergren and German Nick Bachem.
With weather conditions expected to be similar for Friday’s second round, McKibbin, off at 12:50 local (10:50 Irish time) will be hoping that the early starters don’t streak too far ahead.
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