Play for the first round in the R3.75-million tournament was eventually suspended as darkness fell on a difficult day for the players around the Outeniqua and Montagu layouts and The Links.
The tournament consists of three rounds on each of the Fancourt courses ahead of a cut to the top 65 players and ties, who will play the final round on Montagu.
“Five-under-par is a nice start, especially with the stop-start, stop-start going the whole day,” said Van Zyl.
“It was very wet out there. Just before the second stoppage, it was really raining hard and the course was unplayable, and, when we got back, the ball wasn’t rolling out, so it was playing very long.”
He made only a single bogey on the Outeniqua course when he dropped a shot on the 14th, but he picked up his sixth birdie of the day on 17 to close out his round.
Joining Van Zyl and Abery on five-under-par was 2007 South African Open champion James Kingston, who battled the effects of flu as well as the elements his way to 67 around Outeniqua.
“It wasn’t pleasant out there at all,” he said.
“It was really wet underfoot and at times the weather was really bad.
“As the day progressed, the weather did improve, and in the end I got away with a decent day,” he added of his bogey-free round.
Also on five-under-par on Outeniqua was current South African Open Morten Orum Madsen of Denmark. He made eight birdies, but wasn’t able to top the leaderboard on his own with the three bogeys on his card.
And the five-way share of the lead was completed by Englishman Richard Finch.
They led by one shot from another Dane, Lukas Bjerregard, while Keenan Davidse had started like a house on fire to be four-under though his six completed holes.
Scores (RSA unless specified):
Note that par for The Links is 73 and 72 for the other 2 courses. Until all players have completed rounds on all three courses, scores will be reflected to par instead of by totals.
-5 - Warren Abery, Jaco van Zyl, Morten Orum Madsen (DEN), Richard Finch (ENG), James Kingston
-4 - Lucas Bjerregaard (DEN), Keenan Davidse 
-3 - Merrick Bremner, Thomas Aiken, Oliver Bekker, Jens Dantorp (SWE), Dawie Van der Walt, Louis Calitz, Jack Doherty (SCO) , Andrew Marshall (ENG) , Peter Karmis , Ockie Strydom 
-2 - Trevor Fisher Jnr, Jeff Inglis (ENG), Sam Walker (ENG), Daniel Brooks (ENG), Andrew Curlewis , Jacques Blaauw , Daniel Im (USA) , Grant Muller , Jake Redman , Wallie Coetsee , Gideon Pienaar , Steven Ferreira , Chris Swanepoel , Adilson Da Silva (BRA) , Drikus Bruyns 
-1 - Jaco Ahlers, Keith Horne, Ulrich van den Berg, CJ du Plessis, Ryan Strauss , Rhys Davies (WAL) , Jacques Kruyswijk , Pablo Martin Benavides (ESP) , Dean Burmester , Allan Versfeld , Ryan Cairns (ZIM) , Michiel Bothma , Kevin Stone , Titch Moore , Alan Dunbar (NIR) , Dean O'Riley , Erik van Rooyen , Oliver Wilson (ENG) , Jean Hugo , Louis de Jager , Francesco Laporta (ITA) , Chris Lloyd (ENG) , Micky Hough (ZIM) , Maritz Wessels 
Par - MJ Daffue, Jbe' Kruger, Michael Hoey (NIR), Hennie Otto, Justin Harding, Justin Walters, Jared Harvey, Bryce Easton, Attie Schwartzel , Estanislao Goya (ARG) , Mark Murless , Brady Watt (AUS) , Callum Mowat , Torben Baumann (GER) , Lindani Ndwandwe , Daniel Greene , Jake Roos , Colin Nel , Desne van den Bergh , Charl Coetzee , Prinavin Nelson , Tyrone Ferreira , Johan du Buisson , Francois Coetzee 
+1 - Brinson Paolini (USA), Shaun Norris, Lyle Rowe, Phillip Price (WAL), Ruan de Smidt, Rhys Enoch (WAL) , Omar Sandys , Ryan Tipping , Mark Williams , Divan van den Heever , Drikus van der Walt , Matthew Carvell , Stuart Smith (BOT) , Desvonde Botes , T I Mazibuko , Theunis Spangenberg , Jaco Prinsloo , Haydn Porteous , Oscar Stark (SWE) , Doug McGuigan , Eddie Taylor , Brandon Stone , Derick Petersen , Blanche Lamprecht 
+2 - PH McIntyre, Tyrone Mordt, James Kamte, Ross McGowan (ENG), Nic Henning, Teboho Sefatsa, Brett Liddle, Duncan Stewart (SCO) , Graham van der Merwe , Andrew Georgiou , Wynand Dingle , Alex Haindl , Madalitso Muthiya (ZAM) , Grant Veenstra , Louis Moolman , Gert Myburgh , Bryce Bibby , Jack Harrison (ENG) , Juan Langeveld , Jean-Paul Strydom , Toto Thimba (Jnr) 
+3 - Kevin Phelan (IRL), Michael Hollick, JJ Senekal, Andrew Odoh (NGA), Adrian Ford , Neil Schietekat , Thabo Maseko , Darryn Lloyd 
+4 - Van Phillips (ENG), Phillip Archer (ENG), Anthony Michael , Hendrik Buhrmann , Andre Cruse , Kevin Stinson (CAN) , Christiaan Basson , Vaughn Groenewald , Mike Maile , Makhetha Mazibuko , Divan Gerber , Le Roux Ferreira , Sheldon Steyn (ZIM) 
+5 - Tyrone Ryan, Ross Wellington, Danie van Tonder, Shaun Smith , Pieter Moolman , Martin du Toit , Raymond Mathonsi (SWZ) , Justin Turner , JC Ritchie 
+6 - Morne Buys, Dylan Frittelli, Alan McLean (SCO), Daniel Gaunt (ENG)
+7 - Mark Tullo (CHI) , Bennie van der Merwe 
+8 - Alan Michell, Heinrich Bruiners, Steve Surry (ENG) 
+9 - Tertius van den Berg 
+10 - Riekus Nortje
+15 - Paul de Beer
RTD - JG Claassen