JOHANNESBURG - After a day of excellent scoring at the Randpark Golf Club, it was 28-year-old Keenan Davidse’s name at the top of the jam-packed Joburg Open leaderboard after the first round on Thursday.
Davidse, who plays out of Stellenbosch, was among the first men out on Thursday morning, teeing off at 7am on the Bushwillow course and he made the most of good scoring conditions. Nine birdies and a bogey resulted in a 63 and a one shot lead going into Friday’s second round.
A group of six players were a stroke back, at seven-under-par, including South Africans Jared Harvey, Erik van Rooyen and Ockie Strydom.
Davidse said he didn’t expect anything special coming into the R16.5-million tri-sanctioned event after an eventful few weeks that saw his family pick up the flu, including the player himself.
“I don’t know what to say. It’s not like I’m shocked. I’m obviously very happy and pleased,” he said. “I went to Mauritius last week (for the Afrasia Bank Mauritius Open) and didn’t play too well. I was in hospital for four days ... so I’m very chuffed about this.
“When I played at Simola (recently) my little boy was sick with a bad chest, then my wife had the flu and then I got the flu, and lost a lot of weight. I couldn’t deal with that and then the heat in Mauritius got to me so I checked into hospital for a few days. “I therefore had no expectations coming into this week ... I’m just out here to have fun, but obviously pleased to have played well.”
Davidse, and all the men at seven-under, started the tournament on the Bushwillow course at Randpark – which is considered to be easier than the Firethorn course – but he said he still had to hit the ball well and make the putts.
“It’s a good test, no golf course is easy, and you still had to hit your ball in the right areas and make the putts. I got a good number down today and will take it one day at a time,” he said.
Harvey, also on Bushwillow and playing later in the day, was one of a number of players who went low on the back nine.
“It was a bit of luck finishing with a birdie and then the rain came,” he said. “Being bogey-free gives me a lot of confidence. I played nicely,” he said after a 64 that included five birdies on his back nine.
Ten players were a further shot back at six-under, two off the lead, including South African Dean Burmester, who went round the Firethorn course – which will be used exclusively for the final two rounds on the weekend – in 66 blows. In a bogey-free round he shot a scintillating 66.
“I always like playing in South Africa and I’ll take that little 66. The course was unbelievable (after all the rain that’s fallen) and I think everyone will agree with me it’s in flawless condition,” he said after a day when the afternoon field were only briefly disrupted by a rain shower.
In the field of 240 players from the Sunshine, European and Asian tours, 159 players were even or better after the first round – played on both the courses at Randpark.
There will, however, be some struggling to possibly make the halfway cut today, among them last week’s winner in Mauritius and the highest ranked player in the field at 55, Dylan Frittelli.
He had a disappointing day, making just four birdies to go with three bogeys for a one-under 70 on the Bushwillow course.