Cape Town - Sunshine Tour rookie Victor Lange got off to a flying start as he carded a seven-under-par 65 to grab a share of the lead with JC Ritchie at the Eye of Africa PGA Championship on Thursday.
Trevor Fisher Jnr trailed the duo in South Africa’s second-oldest championship by one shot on six-under-par 66, while Steve Surry of England, Daniel Greene and Estiaan Conradie finished two shots off the lead. Defending champion Matias Calderon shared 16th spot eight other players on three-under-69.
The 25-year-old Lange made two straight birdies on first and second and went on to card two more on the fourth and fifth. More gains came on the eighth, 10th, 13th and 17th, and his round had just a single bogey on the par-four 15th.
“I played well,” he said.
“I teed off at 06:30 and I think I hit the first tee shot of the day. I was here first as well. So, it was worth the 04:15 wake-up call for sure. I turned in 31 and finished in 34. So, I am very pleased with how things went, needless to say.”
He said he used the good conditions in the morning to his advantage.
“Absolutely the conditions were good in the morning. I played the front nine with no wind and we played the course fresh corse as well, because we were first on the box on the front nine. We had perfect conditions.
“The course does suit my game. It is a nice course, because it kind of test every aspect of your game. You need to hit it good off the tee, but your short irons need to be good as well. I love it, because I have good all-round game. I don’t think I have many weaknesses in my game right now which is why I think I played quite well.”
Lange has made two top-20 finishes in six starts and two missed cuts since he joined the Sunshine Tour.
The Johannesburg-born player has fond memories of the event that has rich history from watching it as he was growing up.
“You know, this is my first time on the Sunshine Tour and I grew up watching the Sunshine Tour. I have fond memories of Louis Oosthuizen winning it. I think I was in grade seven, when he won. It would be great following in his footsteps.”
Lange believes the key to keeping the momentum would be more practice.
“Look, it is only the first round done and we still have a long week,” he said.
“I am just going to practice a little bit and try and improve a little bit every day and see what happens next.”
Ritchie was also pleased with his round.
“Definitely, I am happy with the round. It has been a long time coming. I have been playing really nicely. So, it is a nice way to start off a year. I put in a lot of hard work up to the end of 2018. I did not take that long off for the holidays. I have been working a bit and made some changes. I fell that they are coming on nicely and I am looking forward to the rest of the season.”
65 - Victor Lange, JC Ritchie
66 - Trevor Fisher Jnr
67 - Steve Surry, Daniel Greene, Estiaan Conradie
68 - Bennie van der Merwe, Damon Stephenson, Keenan Davidse, Alex Haindl, Andre Nel, Louis de Jager, Jacques Blaauw, Riekus Nortje, Fredrik From
69 - Duane Keun, Luke Joy, Jake Roos, Thriston Lawrence, Kyle Pilgrim, Fezekile Kana, Neil Schietekat, Anthony Michael, Matias Calderon
70 - Clinton Grobler, Peter Karmis, Keelan Africa, Jason Smith, Jaco Ahlers, Doug McGuigan, Colin Nel, Gideon van der Vyver
71 - Wynand Dingle, Hennie du Plessis, Vaughn Groenewald, Toby Tree, Ockie Strydom, Jared Harvey, Jean-Paul Strydom, Jonathan Agren, Theunis Bezuidenhout, Jacques P de Villiers, Allan Versfeld, Louis Albertse, Bryce Easton, Christiaan Basson, Teaghan Gauche
72 - Dane Vosloo, Jacquin Hess, Neil O'Briain, Ulrich van den Berg, Michael Palmer, Madalitso Muthiya, Wallie Coetsee, Merrick Bremner, Rhys Enoch, Kyle McClatchie, Jake Redman, Kenneth Dube, Luke Jerling, JJ Senekal, Jaco Prinsloo, Ryan Cairns, Jaco Van Zyl, MJ Viljoen, Anton Haig, Jack Harrison, Hennie Otto, Philip Eriksson
73 - Jean Hugo, Mark Williams, Rhys West, Irvin Mazibuko, Jason Viljoen, Coert Groenewald, Toto Thimba, Mitch Waite, Benjamin Follett-Smith, Divan van den Heever, Erhard Lambrechts
74 - Tyler Hogarty, Lyle Rowe, Tyrone Ryan, Ryan Tipping, Teboho Sefatsa, Martin Rohwer, Herman Loubser, David McIntyre, Sipho Bujela, Michiel Bothma, Ross McGowan, Gerrit Foster, Ruan Conradie
75 - Jabulane Mabilane, Altaaf Bux, Breyten Meyer, Keith Horne, Titch Moore, Andrew Curlewis, Callum Mowat, CJ du Plessis, Makhetha Mazibuko, Ruan de Smidt, Daniel van Tonder, Jbe' Kruger, Thabang Simon, Heinrich Bruiners, Matthew Carvell
76 - Jade Buitendag, Ian Eveleigh, Derick Petersen, Desvonde Botes, Dawie Van der Walt, Rourke van der Spuy, Chris Cannon, Scott Campbell, Andre De Decker, Aubrey Beckley, Andrew van der Knaap
77 - Henk Alberts, Haydn McCullen, James Pennington, Pieter Moolman, Franklin Manchest, Michael Scholz, Stephen Ferreira, Omar Sandys, Philip Geerts, Sean Bradley, Phumlani Maluka
78 - Jannie Botha, Greg Jacobs, Kevin Edwards, Roberto Lupini, Adriel Poonan, Thabo Moraba, Jason Froneman, Basil Wright, Desne Van Den Bergh, Musiwalo Nethunzwi
79 - Brian Gondo, Ruben Labuschagne, Allister de Kock, Tyrone Ferreira
80 - Sheldon Steyn, Michael Hollick, Dean Nysschen, Yubin Jung, Maurice Prinsloo, James Kamte, Wayne Stroebel
81 - Christo Roos, Dean Kupferman, Ruan Huysamen
82 - Marthin Scheepers
83 Dayne Moore