Durban - Qualifying School graduate Louis Albertse took advantage of his knowledge of the Woods layout at Mount Edgecombe and played himself into a four-way tie for the lead as he signed for an impressive five-under-par 65 in the opening round of the Sibaya Challenge on Wednesday.
Starting from the first tee, Albertse's front nine was characterised by three birdies - on the par-five third hole, the fifth hole which is also a par-five and another on the sixth - and not a single bogey as he turned in 32. The same number of birdies made it onto his card on the homeward stretch, only to be spoilt by the dropped shot on the 16th.
"I have played this golf course before as an amateur," he declared.
"And I started well today. The putter was working with me on the first five holes and that gave me a bit of confidence keep going. But, being a Natal boy, it’s nice to perform like this here. My putter was playing along today and I made about 25 to 27 putts, so I am happy."
Also shooting 65s in round one was veteran Jean Hugo, Jake Redman whose game seems to be improving weekly and CJ du Plessis.
Hugo's round was the most eventful of the four players' rounds. Starting from the 10th tee, he went birdie, birdie and bogey in his opening three holes.
Two pars later, however, he made further gains, picking up an important birdie on the par-three 15th. A par on the next hole was quickly followed by two more birdies to turn in 31.
Birdies on his 10th, 14th and 17th holes were accompanied by bogeys on his 11th and 13th holes but he will not be too dissatisfied with such a start to a tournament. Redman and Du Plessis also made six birdies each and both had a bogey each on their card at the end of the round.
A single shot back of the leaders, Jake Roos, the much-travelled Hennie Otto and the English duo of Luke Joy and Todd Clements share the fifth spot after day one in Durban.
Early pace-setter Ryan Cairns' three-under-par 67 put him in a share of the ninth position with Rhys West, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Breyten Meyer, Peter Karmis, Merrick Bremner, Ockie Strydom, Vaughn Groenewald and qualifying school winner Thriston Lawrence.
65 - Louis Albertse, Jean Hugo, Jake Redman, CJ du Plessis
66 - Jake Roos, Hennie Otto, Luke Joy, Todd Clements
67 - Ryan Cairns, Rhys West, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Breyten Meyer, Peter Karmis, Merrick Bremner, Ockie Strydom, Vaughn Groenewald, Thriston Lawrence
68 - Erhard Lambrechts, Wayne Stroebel, Tyrone Ferreira, Daniel van Tonder, Michael Palmer, Herman Loubser, Garth Mulroy, Adilson Da Silva, Ulrich van den Berg, Louis de Jager, Luke Mayo, James Kamte
69 - Altaaf Bux, Jacques P de Villiers, Colin Nel, Alex Haindl, Keenan Davidse, Neil Schietekat, Jason Smith, Jaco Prinsloo, Keelan Africa, Jean-Paul Strydom, Wallie Coetsee, Pieter Moolman, Stephen Ferreira, Rhys Enoch, Christiaan Basson
70 - Theunis Bezuidenhout, Andrew Odoh, Anton Haig, Jacques Blaauw, Dawie Van der Walt, Steven Lecuyer, Aubrey Beckley, Marc Cayeux, Jade Buitendag, Philip Geerts
71 - Marthin Scheepers, Coert Groenewald, Jonathan Agren, Scott Campbell, Philip Eriksson, Fredrik From, Heinrich Bruiners, William Weidner, Yubin Jung, Thabang Simon, Estiaan Conradie, Tyrone Ryan, Martin Rohwer, Teaghan Gauche
72 - Teboho Sefatsa, Andre Nel, Chris Cannon, Madalitso Muthiya, JJ Senekal, Chris Swanepoel, Francois Coetzee, Omar Sandys, Luke Jerling, Makhetha Mazibuko, Kyle McClatchie, Jaco Ahlers, Bryce Easton, Doug McGuigan, Wynand Dingle, Duane Keun, Allan Versfeld
73 - Ryan Tipping, Kevin Stone, Michael Hollick, Callum Mowat, Joe Nawanga, Allister de Kock, Andrew Curlewis, Rourke van der Spuy
74 - Basil Wright, Jared Harvey, Derick Petersen, Andrew van der Knaap, Ruan Conradie, Combrinck Smit, Keith Horne, Desne Van Den Bergh, Roberto Lupini
75 - Toto Thimba, Jacquin Hess, Samba Niang, Thanda Mavundla, Ruan de Smidt, Titch Moore, Sipho Bujela, Mohammad Rauf Mandhu
76 - Lindani Ndwandwe, David McIntyre, Fezekile Kana, Phumlani Maluka, Bennie van der Merwe, Bradford Vaughan
77 - Siyanda Mwandla, Gideon van der Vyver
78 - Adriel Poonan, Benjamin Follett-Smith, Kayyam Rauf Mandhu
79 - Nisharlan Sewshanker, Jason Viljoen
80 - Luke Trocado