JOHANNESBURG – Christiaan Bezuidenhout got off to a flying start in the Dimension Data Pro-Am, firing in a flawless 11-under-par 61 opening round on the Outeniqua golf course at Fancourt on Thursday.
He made back-to-back birdies on the first two holes, then a par and then another birdie. Two more birdies – one after the other – made it onto his card as he turned in 31 and blemish-free. He didn’t relent on the back nine, making two more birdies on the trot on the 10th and 11th holes.
Those were followed by a par on the 12th before another birdie arrived. A hole later, Bezuidenhout was at it again, birdieing the 15th, 17th and 18th holes to sign for a bogey-free 61.
“Outeniqua has proven to be a scoreable course over the years,” said Bezuidenhout, “and it was important to get a great start and, luckily, I did it and I just kept going. There’s a little bit of pressure there because it’s almost expected that you should score well there.
“If you walk off a scoreable course with a two-under or level-par, you know you’ve got work to do on the tougher courses. It’s always at the back of your mind that you should do well on the easier course. Once you do that, you take a bit of the pressure off your shoulder going into the next three days.”
Close up on Bezuidenhout’s heels, is Spain’s Santiago Tarrio Ben who signed for a nine-under 63 on the Montagu layout.
Ernie Els who is making his debut appearance in this 25-year old tournament, along with Zimbabwe’s Stephen Ferreira shot eight-under 64. Like Bezuidenhout, ‘The Big Easy’ was just as impressive on the Outeniqua track. He, too, opened his round back-to-back birdies and after five straight pars, two more birdies went onto his card to turn in 32.
He made further gains at the turn, making it three birdies in a row. After six straight pars, Els made an eagle and closed off with a birdie to sign for an untainted 64.
“It was really nice today,” said Els who boasts 71 professional victories in a glittering career. “I’ve played this course many times and I’ve been coming to Fancourt for 30 years. It’s the kind of course that, at my age, I can play. It’s almost like a (PGA) Champions Tour layout. Good drives and a lot of irons to the flags. I played nicely and those last two putts, obviously, made my day.
“The experience here so far has been great. I’ve never played this event and when I looked at my schedule a couple of weeks ago, I said to Jeremy (Ord) ‘I will be in South Africa, can you give me a spot?’ and he said ‘sure’. So, it’s my first time playing this tournament in 25 years of history.”
Ferreira, who played on the Montagu layout, made nine birdies and a single bogey during his opening round at Fancourt.
Tying fifth on the score of seven-under 65 is Haydn Porteous, Germany’s Marcel Siem, 2016 winner of this tournament George Coetzee, Jean Hugo, the in-form JC Ritchie, Daniel Hillier of New Zealand and rookie, Deon Germishuys.
65 - Haydn Porteous, Marcel Siem, George Coetzee, JC Ritchie, Jean Hugo, Deon Germishuys, Daniel Hillier
66 - Clement Sordet, Dean Burmester, Darren Fichardt, Richard Sterne, Luke Jerling, Alex Haindl
67 - Emilio Cuartero Blanco, Louis de Jager, Jake Roos, Hennie du Plessis, Tyrone Ferreira, Garrick Higgo, Martin Ovesen
69 - Jacques Blaauw, Ewen Ferguson, Keenan Davidse, Matt Ford, Lorenzo Scalise, Adilson Da Silva, Craig Howie, Hennie Otto, Ockie Strydom, Daniel Gavins, Tom Gandy
69 - Alexander Knappe, Thriston Lawrence, Bryce Easton, Deyen Lawson, Brandon Stone, Rhys Enoch, Ben Stow, Garth Mulroy, Ugo Coussaud, Jacques Kruyswijk, Daniel van Tonder, Damien Perrier, Jbe' Kruger
70 - Frederic Lacroix, Matthew Baldwin, Robin Petersson, Jaco Ahlers, Madalitso Muthiya, Jake Redman, Bernd Ritthammer, Hurly Long, Moritz Lampert, MJ Viljoen, Pep Angles, Henric Sturehed, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Todd Clements, Vaughn Groenewald, Anton Karlsson, Niall Kearney, Marc Cayeux, Rourke van der Spuy
72 - Louis Albertse, David McIntyre, Jayden Schaper, Estiaan Conradie, Jean-Paul Strydom, David Borda, David Boote, Liam Johnston, Oliver Lindell, Harry Ellis, Kristoffer Reitan, Riekus Nortje, Simon Wakefield, Martin Simonsen, Christopher Mivis, Daan Huizing, Aron Zemmer, Ruan de Smidt, Ruan Conradie, Ulrich van den Berg, Alan McLean, Peter Karmis, Roope Kakko, Eirik Tage Johansen, Merrick Bremner, Teaghan Gauche
73 - Jaco Prinsloo, Justin Walters, Richard Mansell, Robin Dawson, Oscar Lengden, Ross Mcgowan, Jordan Wrisdale, Bradley Neil, Philip Eriksson, Marcel Schneider, Daniel Greene, Robbie Van West, Lauri Ruuska, Heinrich Bruiners, Martin Wiegele, Nicolai Von Dellingshausen, Felix Mory, Raphael de Sousa, Keith Horne, Stuart Manley, Jacob Glennemo, Martin Rohwer
73 - Ryan Cairns, Fredrik From, James Hart du Preez, Euan Walker, Laurie Canter, Lyle Rowe, Ben Evans, Jack Harrison, Gary Stal, Toto Thimba Jnr, Christiaan Basson, Makhetha Mazibuko
75 - Jens Fahrbring, Anthony Michael, Jaco Van Zyl, Chris Swanepoel, Juran Dreyer, Kevin Stone, Max Schmitt, Clancy Waugh, JJ Senekal, Nathan Kimsey, Chris Cannon, Chase Hanna, Gavin Moynihan, Mitch Waite, Tyrone Ryan, Gudmundur Kristjansson, Pedro Oriol, Steve Surry, Thomas Linard
76 - David Dixon, Toby Tree, Stanislav Matus, Wilco Nienaber, Ricardo Gouveia, Doug McGuigan, Jack Floydd, Neil Schietekat, Dale Whitnell, Dylan Naidoo, Callum Mowat, Franklin Manchest, Daniel Young, Mathieu Fenasse, Scott Fernandez, Ryan Evans, Andre Nel
77 - Mark Williams, Steven Tiley, Andre De Decker, Matthew Rushton
78 - Jonas Kolbing, Michael Palmer, Minkyu Kim, James Kamte, CJ du Plessis, Matias Calderon, Gerrit Foster, Nicolai Hojgaard, Jason Diab
79 - Joel Stalter
80 - Keelan Africa, Benjamin Follett-Smith, Oliver Bekker