Easton’s brilliant round left him one stroke behind the early lead of eight-under-par set by 2008 champion Richard Sterne on the easier West Course, and was one of the main talking points of the morning.
But the lanky Durbanite was still surprised by all the fuss.
“Why do the media want to talk to me? Surely they’re waiting for Charl Schwartzel and Branden Grace?” he said.
While Easton did not drop a stroke and holed his tee-shot on the 167-metre par-three 12th, he said he was not entirely satisfied with his round, having erred too many times for his liking with the driver.
“I missed a few fairways so I still need to figure out the driver a bit, I have some work to do this afternoon. But it’s nice to have a round where you don’t hit the ball so well but you still score well.
Golf’s a funny game, sometimes you hit the ball flush and you don’t score so well,” Easton said.
Easton took a seven-iron on the 12th hole and the ace meant he went away with a million bonus points from the Hilton Hotel group, sponsored by Investec, which translates to about R100 000 of free accommodation.
“It’s my first hole-in-one and you obviously don’t think about it when you’re playing the hole. But then the ball goes in and it takes you a couple of seconds to realise it’s disappeared. It was an awesome feeling and the million Hilton points is a nice bonus,” he said.
It was a great day in the office for the two-time winner on the 2012 Sunshine Tour and there is always the expectation of going lower on the West course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington. But Easton will not be taking anything for granted.
“I know the West course a bit better, before today I’d only played a single practice round on the East, but you never know how things will go.”
With 2012 having been a breakthrough year for the 2011 rookie, Easton was asked whether he was targeting the European Tour co-sanctioned events this year.
“Yes, I want to play more consistently and compete more in these bigger events. Last year I had a couple of wins, but I didn’t play so well in these co-sanctioned tournaments,” Easton said.
Having won the Sun City Challenge, eagling the last hole to force a playoff, and the Zebula leg of the Vodacom Origins of Golf two weeks later in 2012, Easton is clearly a golfer whose talent is beginning to bloom.