Cape Town - While the wind could have hampered him, it helped Rourke van der Spuy instead to a seven-under-par 65 on Wednesday and the first-round lead of the R700,000 Sun Fish River Sun Challenge.
He eagled the 473-metre par-five 16th, using a three-wood with the wind off the tee, hitting a nine-iron to 15 feet and making the putt to inch himself clear of another rookie, Otto van Greunen, who also eagled 16 on his way to a six-under-par 66 according the to Sunshine Tour website.
“I got off to a hot start,” said van der Spuy. “I birdied my first three holes, and that felt pretty good. And then I made a birdie on five, and then it was a bit of a grind in the middle of the round. I finished strongly with that eagle – and I birdied the 17th as well. So it was a solid day out there.”
His afternoon round trumped much of the morning action, which was dominated by Colin Nel’s five-under-par 67 in gentle breezes and relatively warm weather. “You’ve got to take your opportunities when you get them,” said Nel ahead of the second round during which rain, storms and winds gusting up to 60 kilometres per hour are forecast.
“They say the wind is going to pick up already this afternoon, but it doesn’t seem to be coming yet. I’m sure it will be there. If it’s not strong, it still makes you think about things on this golf course – that’s for sure. So getting out early and taking advantage of the weather definitely is a bonus,” he added.
Nel’s five-under was matched in the afternoon by Lindani Ndwandwe, MJ Viljoen and Callum Mowat.
For Van der Spuy, even with the wind blowing, the course seemed to hold no demons. “I have played it quite a lot before,” he said. “We had a lot of junior and amateur events out here. So it was familiar to me out there today. It’s known for all the different winds, so you’ve got to keep the ball in play. And the greens are so good, that you have a chance with any putt when you’re on them.
“With the wind coming up in the afternoon, it didn’t play as tough as I thought it would. It was mostly just swirling. It changed direction quite often out there, and that’s what we were focusing on.”