Jaco van Zyl made sure that neither the heat nor the hidden dangers of Glendower Golf Club killed his momentum as he soared into the first-round lead of the South African Open with a great round of seven-under-par 65 on Thursday.
The 36-year-old South African teed off from the 10th at 7am and started well with a birdie on the beautiful 436-metre par-four, and Van Zyl picked up further shots on the 13th, 15th and 16th holes to reach the turn on four-under. That quickly became seven-under as he birdied the par-four first hole and eagled the second, but then the heat and a blustery wind began to take their toll and Van Zyl dropped a shot on the seventh before regaining it with a birdie on the eighth.
“It was absolutely gorgeous for the first few holes today, there was not a breath of wind, it was nice and cool, so you really needed to capitalise early on. By the time we got to our eighth hole [the 17th], the wind really started picking up and it was warming up, so it just got so much tougher out there.
“It’s one of those golf courses that you go round and you think that it’s there for the taking, but as soon as you let your guard down a little, it bites. So you’ve always got to pick your safe targets off the tees and into greens,” Van Zyl said.
Another Gauteng golfer, Shaun Norris, also teed off from the 10th but 20 minutes earlier than Van Zyl, and he claimed second place with a six-under-par 66 that included an eagle on the 500-metre, par-five 15th.
South Africans Keith Horne and Jbe’ Kruger were the best of the afternoon golfers as they shot five-under-par 67s to share third place. Branden Grace fired a solid 69, while Retief Goosen was the best of the former champions with a 68 that included two double-bogeys.
But Glendower certainly showed her teeth for some of the other big names in the field, with defending champion Andy Sullivan slumping to a 75 after double-bogeys on the par-five second and par-three 17th holes.
Two-time champion Trevor Immelman and George Coetzee were also three-over-par, while Hennie Otto, the last South African to win the national open, in 2011, shot a birdie-less 76.
Five-time champion Ernie Els, who also started off the 10th, eagled the eighth but then three-putted for bogey on the ninth to finish with a 73.