European Tour

Fichardt on fire at Els Club

2013-02-28 19:00
Darren Fichardt (AFP)
Pretoria - With almost half his career victories coming in either February or March, it is no wonder that Darren Fichardt likes to get the maximum benefit out of this time in the season.

Fichardt is hunting his second victory this month after opening with a seven-under-par 65 to lead the first round of the Tshwane Open at The Els Club, Copperleaf, on Thursday.

The Pretoria professional teed off the 10th and birdied that, then made four more birdies to the turn, and came home with a further three birdies and only one bogey.

VIDEO: Tshwane Open, Day 1 highlights

"Playing well, putting well, chipping well and everything is good, so my confidence is high," he said of his one-stroke lead, and the win and seventh-place finish he has enjoyed in the last two weeks.

Sweden's Bjorn Akesson is his nearest challenger, with England's Gary Lockerbie and David Howell, Chile's Mark Tullo, India's Jeev Milkha Singh and South Africa's Jean Hugo all on five-under.

Darren Clarke opened with a three-under 69, Michael Campbell a 72 and Jose Maria Olazabal a 76, including a second nine of 42.
For all the talk of the length of this golf course, there were mixed reactions from the top of the leaderboard on day-one.

Fichardt birdied the par-five fourth hole, which at 626 metres is the longest hole in European Tour history.

"You can almost not get up there for three, never mind two," said Fichardt.

"I hit driver, three iron, seven iron and holed a 12-foot putt. But I mean, at that length, into the wind and with the fairways not running, it's not a fun hole."

And after bringing down that monster, Fichardt bogeyed the tame par-four seventh. "I birdied all the tough holes and then the easiest hole on the golf course I bogey that's how this game is. It was a very weak hole, but the other 17 were good."

After his 67, Lockerbie described the course as, "Very long on paper, but with the altitude and the heat it doesn't play all that long, so you can scare yourself if you look at yardages all the time."

And Singh said his own 67 was built on an attitude of altitude. "Mentally I'm telling myself that I'm at high altitude. I'm using a metres book and if I hit a seven-iron 175 yards then I'm hitting it 175 metres here. I'm just telling myself it's going as far, but
it's still very long. Of the four par fives I could only get on two in two."

But the chasing pack is very aware of the confidence in Fichardt's game at present and the threat he poses, despite this being his eighth consecutive tournament.

"Eight weeks in a row and I'm just going with the flow and hitting one shot at a time. Let the clubs do the work and the rest will follow."

Leading first round scores in Tshwane Open at par-72, 7,791-yard (7,124-metre) Copperleaf Golf and Country Estate Thursday (RSA unless noted):

65 - Darren Fichardt

66 - Bjorn Akesson (SWE)

67 - Charl Coetzee, David Howell (ENG), Jean Hugo, Gary Lockerbie (ENG), Jeev Milkha Singh (IND), Mark Tullo (CHI)

68 - Jaco Ahlers, Scott Arnold (AUS), Merrick Bremner, Dean Burmester, Damien McGrane (IRL), Vaughn Groenewald, Justin Harding, Keith Horne, David Horsey (ENG), Mikko Korhonen (FIN), Joel Sjoholm (SWE), Shaun Smith, Peter Uihlein (USA), Simon Wakefield (ENG), Dawie van der Walt, Danny Willett (ENG)

69 - Desvonde Botes, Jorge Campillo (ESP), Darren Clarke (NIR), Divan van den Heever, James Kamte, Joost Luiten (NED), Garth Mulroy, Colin Nel, Jake Roos, Adilson Da Silva (BRA), Ruan de Smidt, Mark Williams

70 - Matthew Baldwin (ENG), Christiaan Basson, James Busby (ENG), Jacques Blaauw, Ryan Cairns (ZIM), Richard Finch (ENG), Oliver Fisher (ENG), Alex Haindl, James Kingston, Soren Kjeldsen (DEN), Morten Orum Madsen (DEN), Thabo Maseko, Graham van der Merwe, Grant Muller, Matthew Nixon (ENG), Eddie Pepperell (ENG), Albert Pistorius, Anthony Snobeck (FRA), Graeme Storm (ENG), Marc Warren (SCO), Romain Wattel (FRA)

NEXT ON SPORT24X

 

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
Live Video Streaming
  • Blitz
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @00:00
  • SS1
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @01:00
  • SS2
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @02:00
  • SS3
    Mon, 24 Nov 2014 @03:00
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

 

Thirty and still single? There’s hope!

Are you thirty and still single, without even a hint of a prospect on the horizon? Then read this!

 
 

Men24.com

SA’s Playboy Playmate of the year in action!
12 lies everyone accepts as fact
Hottie of the day: Charlotte
Breakup text goes viral and it’s hilarious!
Vote

Which is your favourite event on the golfing calendar?

 
 
/Sport
Men
Women
Love 2 Meet
Featured

Got something you'd like to get off your chest? Got a burning desire to air an opinion? If so, be sure to sign-up on Sport24's FORUM!

Latest blogs
 

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

Newsletters Sign up for the Morning Glory, Super 15 and Soccer newsletters

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

Mobile Sport24 on your mobile phone - WAP, alerts, downloads, services

Forum Have your Say on Sport24's brand new Forum!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

iPhone Latest Sport24 news on your iPhone

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

Blogs Yes your opinion counts. Get it out there

 
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.