CENTURION, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 28, Darren Fichardt during day 1 of the 2013 Tshwane Open from Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate on February 28, 2013 in Centurion, South Africa Photo by Petri Oeschger / Sunshine Tour / Gallo Images

Pretoria – Darren Fichardt carded a seven under-par 65 to take the early lead in the opening round of the Tshwane Open at Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate on Thursday.

The South African, playing in the morning, led by two strokes ahead of Englishman Gary Lockerbie, Mark Tullo of Chile and Jeev Milkha Singh of India, with half the field still out on the course.

Fichardt, who won the African Open two weeks ago, dropped just one shot on a blustery day on the Highveld layout in the co-sanctioned European and Sunshine Tour event.

Fichardt said he was pleased to get off to an even better start than at the Africa Open in East London.

“ (At the) Africa Open I felt like I started a little late,” Fichardt said after his round.

“I didn’t jump out the blocks like I have this week. I had a new driver, a new swing and I started the week very ‘iffy’ and then I progressed into a bit of form.”

Fichardt started on the 10th hole, where he opened with a birdie on the par four, before he picked up another stroke on the par four 13th.

He followed with three birdies in a row from the 15th to close out the nine in five under.

“On 15, I hit the green for two and had a tap-in birdie.

“The next, I hit driver to the middle of the fairway and then a sand wedge close to tap in for birdie, then I made a good birdie on 17, hit a nine-iron to about six feet and made the putt.”

Fichardt came back in a solid two under on his back nine to sign for the seven under total.

He managed a seventh place on the Sunshine Tour at Fancourt last week and aimed to keep the momentum going.

“Last week at DiData I played really well, and I’m playing well, putting well, chipping well and everything is good, so my confidence is high.”

The tournament was Fichardt's eighth straight event, something which could explain his good results.

“Right now it’s been eight weeks in a row and I don’t even know what’s going on.

“I’m just going with the flow and hitting one shot at a time. I’m looking forward to a break.

“I’ll take it one day at a time and do my best this week.” – Sapa