Johannesburg – Australian Scott Arnold shot a first-round 65 at the Outeniqua course at Fancourt Golf and Country Estate on Thursday to move him into a share of the lead at the Dimension Data Pro-Am.
“It was a great way to start. I played really solid and holed some putts, so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and that should be alright for the week,” he said.
The Australian is enjoying the atmosphere of the tournament, where the professionals play a round at The Links, Outeniqua and Montagu courses at Fancourt, followed by a final round on Montagu.
“It’s lovely here, exactly like Australia with the sun out, so it’s great to play here. I’m from Sydney in New South Wales, so I’m used to 30 - or 40-mile-an-hour winds.”
Arnold began the first day with two consecutive birdies and then continued to shine, making a further two before the turn, a fifth at 12 and then an eagle at 17 to lead in the clubhouse.
Justin Harding chased down that lead over his final holes at Montagu, making two birdies in his last three holes to claim a share of the first-round lead.
“I’m pleased with today, because I played well from tee to green and putted fantastically,” said Harding. “There are three rounds to come, and I’ll try to get into a good position for Sunday and then try to take on the trophy,” he said.
Chasing the two young leaders were European Tour veterans Hennie Otto and Simon Dyson, who both shot six-under-par 66 at Outeniqua.
“Some big shoes to fill back there,” said Arnold. “I’m not going to worry about what they do – I can’t control that. I’m just going to go out and play the best that I can, at the end of the week if I win that’s great, but otherwise I’ll know that I’ve done the best I can,” he said.
It was only two years ago that Otto lifted the Dimension Data Pro-Am trophy, and the two-time European Tour winner loomed on six-under.
“It’s fun and serious this week – there is a balance. If you want to score in this tournament it’s on Outeniqua, and I’m glad I could go low today and get the tournament off to such a good start,” he said.
England’s Dyson, a six-time European Tour winner himself, was enthusiastic after his opening 66 and relished his time in the sun.
“Everything was good today and it’s absolutely beautiful here. It’s always a pleasure to come back and play in South Africa and when I get a chance to come I take it,” he said.
Seven players shared fifth on five-under-par, four of whom played the Montagu course and two who played Outeniqua.
At The Links, which is a par-73 and the toughest layout of the three courses, Jared Harvey carded an impressive 68 to become the seventh player tied on five-under. The Fancourt Foundation graduate was happy to have done so well at a course that punishes mistakes.
“My playing partner, Francois Pienaar, asked me which course I respect the most at Fancourt and I told him it was definitely The Links. I would have taken even-par before I teed off today, so it’s great to start five under,” he said. – Sapa