Sunshine Tour

Bekker, Schietekat share SA Open lead in Sun City

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South African golfer Neil Schietekat (Gallo)
South African golfer Neil Schietekat (Gallo)
Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

South African golfers Oliver Bekker and Neil Schietekat are in a share of the lead after the opening round of the SA Open Championship at Gary Player Country Club in Sun City.

Bekker topped the leaderboard with an eagle, seven birdies and two bogeys to sit on 7-under to take the clubhouse lead early on Thursday.

"When you can feel confident in your putter like that, the game feels in a good place, even around a challenging layout like Gary Player Country Club," said Bekker.

"Last week, I didn't do so well in the Joburg Open. To give you an idea, I made 11 birdies in the two completed rounds, but I was on level-par. The game has been good, and it just needed something to happen for me."

Bekker is the chairperson of the Sunshine Tour players' committee and dealt with the various disruptions at last week's Joburg Open, which downgraded the SA Open to a sole Sunshine Tour event.

"About the only thing I didn't do was win. Now that I have less on my mind after the craziness of last week, I felt like I played with a clear head and less pressure than I have for a while, even though it's the SA Open."

Joining Bekker in the lead is Schietekat, who played a near-flawless opening round in Sun City as he carded an eagle, six birdies and bogey to sit on 7-under.

Schietekat has won at the Gary Player Country Club before, winning the 2018 Sun City Challenge, which he hopes will inspire him this week.

"I was one over early in the round and the scores were pretty good in the morning, so I put a bit of pressure on myself," said Schietekat.

"I threw in a couple of birdies straight after that bogey. I hit some good shots and the course was nice and soft, so I enjoyed every minute.

"I think it's the best golf course in the country. It obviously helps that I've won here. But I love the golf course. When they moved the SA Open to the Gary Player Country Club I always thought I've got a chance of winning it here."

The pair were a shot clear of fellow countrymen Bryce Easton and Lyle Rowe on six-under. Tied for fifth on five-under is Hennie du Plessis, Albert Venter, Heinrich Bruiners and Hennie O'Kennedy.

Defending champion Christiaan Bezuidenhout was in a share of 22nd on two-under-par.

Featured second round pairings (*10th hole tee):

07:00 - George Coetzee, Shaun Norris, Dylan Frittelli

07:00* - Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Christiaan Maas (a), Thriston Lawrence

07:10 - Justin Harding, Dylan Naidoo, Neil Schietekat

07:10* - Jacques Kruyswijk, Daniel van Tonder, Estiaan Conradie

11:40 - Oliver Bekker, Hennie du Plessis, Jovan Rebula 

12:00 - Zander Lombard, Dean Burmester, Jaco Ahlers

12:10 - Hennie Otto, Brandon Stone, James Kingston

12:10* - Garrick Higgo, Martin Vorster, Casey Jarvis (a)

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