Rustenburg - There was very little separating the top teams after Saturday’s first round of the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at the Lost City Golf Course.
Double US Open champion Retief Goosen and Swedish professional Niclas Fasth both led their teams to the joint lead on 14 under par, but only one stroke clear of the field in an entertaining first round of this charity tournament.
Goosen and his team of former Proteas cricket star Herschelle Gibbs and businessmen Anthony Leeming and Mike Dladla made a terrific start and were 12 under through their first eight holes. “But unfortunately we didn’t finish as strong as we would’ve liked,” said Goosen.
“We had an unfortunate four-putt on the last green to sacrifice the sole lead, but we’re still in a good place. We’re tied for the lead going into the final day so anything can happen. But I must admit it was difficult to hit the fairways on this course.”
Goosen’s last statement brought a cheer from playing partner Gibbs. “I can’t tell you how nice it is to hear a multiple Major winner say that.”
Alongside them, the team of Fasth dovetailed superbly in a difficult
first round of gusting wind.
“We all helped each other out when we
needed to,” the Swede said.
And it was echoed by his business partner
“Our pro looked good all day and everyone else filled in.
We dovetailed like you were supposed to.”
Although their team-mate,
American actor Anthony Anderson, felt his contribution was being
“To be honest, I carried the team on my broad shoulders, but I think I peaked too soon in the round and then just fell from the sky. But we had a great team and had a lot of fun. I saw a few baboons on the course that looked like some family members of mine. I was like, ‘Hey uncle George. What are you doing here?’”
The final round of this 36-hole tournament will be a fiercely contested one, especially with the team of Tony Johnstone only one stroke behind the leaders.
“We didn’t really get going on the front nine. We were three under after nine, but the boys did the work as we kicked into gear on the back nine. Now we’re in the hunt,” said the Presidents Cup vice-captain.
And at nine-under par and currently last in the field, even the team of Thomas Levet still feel five shots is nothing to make up in the final round. And they’ll be expecting more from teammate and popular British DJ Johnathan Joseph, a longtime supporter of this charity event.
“Johnathan the DJ didn’t show up too much today, but he made birdie on the last to keep us in contention,” said Levet. And even Joseph admitted he was looking forward to a better second round. “Today I was so far offline on this course I saw animals that are native to India.”
Their other teammate, businessman Grant Horsfield, is hoping his brilliant performance in the gala dinner auction where he contributed significantly to the over R4 million raised for charity will begin to rub off on his game as well.
“This morning my wife reminded me about my generosity at the auction. But we’re only five behind going into the final round and we’ll be giving it our all on Sunday.”
-14 Niclas Fasth, Anthony Anderson, Chuck Colton, Greg Whittaker
-14 Retief Goosen, Herschelle Gibbs, Anthony Leeming, Mike Dladla
-13 Tony Johnstone, Thomas Msengana, Phil Grindrod, Daryl Bernhard
-12 Gary Player, Carmine Giovinazzo, Gideon du Plessis, Ngan Boon Mac
-11 Cheyenne Woods, Brian McFadden, Doug Jackson, Alex Maditsi
-9 Thomas Levet, Johnathan Joseph, Chris Kirubi, Grant Horsfield