Versfeld in control at Vodacom
Pretoria - Rookie Allan Versfeld finished the first round of the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Pretoria Country Club on Thursday at four-under-par 68 to lead a professional tournament for the first time.
Versfeld leads Justin Harding and the Attie Schwartzel by one stroke. He rode his luck as he carded the only bogey-free round of the day.
"I got a few very lucky breaks, like on the 18th where my driver went straight in the pot bunker, hit the face and bounced out by about a foot and I ended up making birdie from a position where I looked as if I would be lucky to make par," said Versfeld.
Keeping bogeys off the card on a day which started very cold, and which saw the wind come up during the morning and die down in the afternoon, was quite an achievement.
But Versfeld's recipe was simple: "I hit the ball straight and putted well," he said.
Harding also managed to keep his round going forward with some patience in the face of adversity. He made successive bogeys on 12 and 13, a birdie on 14 and then pulled off a great up-and-down for par on 15.
"That up-and down was quite interesting. I hit it about 20 metres left and the pin was tucked left. I bumped one through the bunkers and made about a 25-footer, said Harding.
Schwartzel took a leaf out of brother Charl's book and applied a little patience to his golf: "I'm just trying to play clever," he said of his three-under-par 69 which saw him level with Harding.
"I used to make stupid mistakes and now I'm just trying to stay out of the bunkers, and if I'm in trouble, I try and chip it out and make par, said Schwartzel.
The 2009 champion in this event, Brandon Pieters finished his first round two strokes behind Versfeld, sharing fourth place with Chris Swanepoel and Vaughn Groenewald.
Adilson Da Silva, who won the previous Sunshine Tour event a fortnight ago at Sun City, Pretoria Country Club's own George Coetzee, Trevor Fisher Jnr and Ulrich van den Berg all carded one-under-par 71s.
Van den Berg's round included a hole-in-one on the 144-metre 14th - his fourth career ace.
Versfeld, who is leading the 2011 Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year race, was not willing to think too far ahead, or even be happy to be in the lead for the first time as a pro.
"I just add up my scores and see what that means at the end of the tournament," he said.
Scores (RSA unless specified):
68 - Allan Versfeld
69 - Justin Harding, Attie Schwartzel
70 - Brandon Pieters, Chris Swanepoel, Vaughn Groenewald
71 - Adilson da Silva (BRA), George Coetzee, Ulrich van den Berg, Trevor Fisher Jnr
72 - PG van Zyl, Morne Buys, Coenie Stoop, Jbe' Kruger, Darren Fichardt, Andre Cruse, Johan du Buisson, Jean Hugo
73 - Justin Walters, Neil Schietekat, JG Claassen, Prinavin Nelson, Toto Thimba (Jnr), Ryan Tipping, Desvonde Botes, Omar Sandys
74 - Albert Pistorius, Doug McGuigan, Christiaan Basson, Peter Karmis, Bradford Vaughan, Divan van den Heever, Shaun Norris
75 - Andrew Curlewis, Charl Coetzee, Tjaart van der Walt, Michiel Bothma, Louis de Jager, Theunis Spangenberg, Derik Ferreira, Grant Muller
76 - JJ Senekal, Nic Henning, Lyle Rowe, Stuart Clark (WAL), PH McIntyre, Tyrone Ferreira, Willie van der Merwe, Ryan Hood, Jacques Blaauw, Warren Abery, TC Charamba (ZIM), Alan Michell, Callie Swart
77 - Grant Veenstra, James Kamte, Merrick Bremner, Mark Murless, Daniel Greene, David Hewan, Dean O'Riley
78 - Brett Liddle, Josh Cunliffe
79 - Derek Scullard, Jaco Ahlers, Lindani Ndwandwe
81 - Henk Alberts
82 - Louis Moolman, Colin Nel, Oliver Bekker
83 - Dion Fourie
85 - Neil Cheetham (ENG)