De Jager in the hunt at Classic
Durban - Louis de Jager cruised round a windy Durban Country Club in 69 strokes to join a five-way share of fifth in the first round of the Suncoast Classic on Thursday.
The 2009 Suncoast champion raced through his first nine holes in 32 and closed the day at three-under-par, finishing two strokes back of leader Johan Bekker in the R500 000 event.
Twenty-four-year-old de Jager has an affinity for the Durban Country Club and finished last year’s Suncoast Classic tied for tenth at nine-under-par.
“Today was a bit of a walk down memory lane, I could remember a lot of the good shots I hit, and it gave me quite a bit of confidence,” said de jager.
De Jager looked comfortable in windy conditions when he shot six birdies, but added three bogeys to his card and closed the day tied for fifth.
“I have been working with my coach on getting the ball low and it’s been working wonders into the wind,” he said.
De Jager made the turn at four-under, but struggled to close well and dropped shots at the first, fourth and seventh before signing for his 69. “I started on the back nine and played really well, but on the second nine I fell away a bit,” he said.
With 15 top-10 finishes during his career on the Sunshine Tour, De Jager knows that putting well is crucial for success. “I have been working on my putting and I’m rolling the ball really nicely. Today I sank some crucial putts and I’m very happy with my putting stroke,” he said.
Bekker shot an unmatched 67 and holds a one-stroke lead over Willie van der Merwe, Josh Cunliffe and Keenan Davidse ahead of the second round.
Alongside de Jager at three-under and joining the five-way tie for fifth are Warren Abery, Tjaart van der Walt, Andre Cruise and rookie Dean O’Riley.
De Jager’s knowledge of the Durban Country Club and his preparation for this week’s windy conditions make him a serious contender for Suncoast glory.