Johannesburg – Long-hitter Merrick Bremner shot a blistering eight under par 64 to tie the course record and take the lead after the first round of the SA Open at Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate on Thursday.
Bremner leads by two from Mathew Carvell and Swede Henrik Stenson who both signed for 66 at the European and Sunshine tour co-sanctioned event.
Bremner was out in the morning teeing off just after 7am and got off to a perfect start. Starting on the first hole, he opened up with two birdies in a row before adding another four before the turn to go out in six under.
Coming home he said he played more conservatively, throwing in two birdies on the two par fives.
“I played fantastically on the first nine, didn't miss a green. The only chance that I had that wasn't makeable was on 15. The rest were within 10 feet, so in theory I could have shot 28 on the front,” said Bremner after his round.
“I was happy with 30 at the start of the SA Open and to be six under through nine.”
Bremner said he made the decision to try and keep his round together and sign for a good score.
“I made the turn, still hit good shots but started thinking a bit more and playing clever golf Ä thinking a bit more as opposed to so much aggression which is what I normally do.
“I wanted to hold my round together and post a decent score and not come in with five or four under. As the round progressed I started playing a lot better, hitting fairways and making sure I hit in the right part of the green to make sure I have a decent putt at birdie.”
Bremner credits his good play to the help of a 'sports mentor'.
“It's got a lot to do with the work I've been doing behind the scenes off the golf course with a sports mentor.
“We've done extensive work together over the last month or so. That's probably led to my change in decisions and thought patterns on the golf course. You can see the bigger picture now, it's not just about brawn, it's sometimes about the brain as well.”
Carvell, who has a best finish of second on the local Sunshine tour said he was not setting any goals for himself for the rest of the tournament.
“It's a little bit overwhelming, I mean 1/8I'm having 3/8 a press conference,” said Carvell.
“This is my first SA Open and I'm just trying to enjoy the experience and see what happens.”
Carvell said he was not intimidated about playing with world-class players like Germany's Martin Kaymer Ä a former world-number one ÄCharl Schwartzel and Branden Grace.
“It's a different feeling. It's not necessarily added pressure. Those guys are world-class players and I'm not even going to start thinking about getting to their level yet. But it's nice to know I can compete with them.
“I'm just going to enjoy the week and maybe get some good TV coverage. If I shoot 80 tomorrow who cares. I'm still the same guy.”
Scotland's Craig Lee shot a 67 along with local Alex Haindl, while Charl Schwartzel, with a host of other players, was four shots behind with an opening 68. – Sapa