Nel keeps it tidy at Classic
Kimberley - He might not be leading, but Colin Nel was very pleased with his four-under-par 67 on Thursday which left him one off the pace in the first round of the R600 000 Northern Cape Classic.
Until he dropped a shot the 16th, he was on course for a bogey-free card.
He managed to make up for the blemish with a pair of birdies to finish and move into a share of second after the opening round on the par-71 6 300-metre Kimberley Golf Club layout.
He trailed Oliver Bekker and Alex Haindl, who each carded five-under-par 66 in the morning before the wind came up, by one in a share of third with Trevor Fisher Jnr.
"The birdie on 18 was a little lucky," Nel confessed of the 492-metre par-five closing hole.
"I had a wedge in, and hit it in the bunker."
His bunker shot went nearly 15 feet past the hole and, with the greens difficult for most of the players, a par at best looked on the cards. But he stepped up and boxed the putt to edge one clear of a group of nine players on three-under in a share of fifth.
One of the players on three-under was Charl Coetzee, who, until he made bogeys on 10 and 12 after the turn, looked as if he had the makings of a round that would take him clear of the field.
He has only recently returned to being able to play pain-free after damaging ligaments in his right shoulder.
"I can't tell you what a difference it makes to be able to be sure of my swing," he said. "And, of course, I can practice properly too," he added.
Bekker and Haindl each had two bogeys on their cards.
Bekker's round was underscored by an eagle-three on the seventh after he started the day on the 10th, and, together with five birdies, helped him get to the top of the leaderboard.
"It's been a frustrating year," said Bekker of a season which has had as many missed cuts as top-10s - three of each.
"Now I just want to put three good rounds together." Haindl made seven birdies - including three in succession from the second to the fourth - in a round where his putting in difficult conditions was his strong suit in a game which has been coming to him over the last week.
"I didn't hit it that well last week," he said, "but I managed to put a good score together.
"And here, I just have to get myself in position to pick up some shots, and it should go well." Nel has never had a top-10 finish in his Sunshine Tour career, but he's made four consecutive cuts recently after a string of missing out through May and June.
"It's feeling good," he said. "I just hope I can get another good round under my belt."
Round one scores from the Northern Cape Classic played at the par-71 Kimberley Golf Club: (RSA unless specified):
66 - Oliver Bekker, Alex Haindl
67 - Trevor Fisher Jnr, Colin Nel
68 - Lindani Ndwandwe, Ulrich van den Berg, Morne Buys, Albert Pistorius, Neil Schietekat, Andrew Curlewis, Charl Coetzee, Jake Roos, Louis Calitz
69 - Bryce Easton, Louis de Jager, Darren Fichardt, Peter Wilson (ENG), Lyle Rowe, Brandon Pieters, JG Claassen, Mark Fensham
70 - Thabang Simon, Des Terblanche, John McClean, Dean Burmester, Dean O'Riley, Jean Hugo, Merrick Bremner
71 - Wynand Dingle, Derik Ferreira, Grant Muller, Nic Henning, Bradford Vaughan, Toto Thimba (Jnr), Ryan Strauss, Patrick Spindler, Attie Schwartzel, Hennie Otto
72 - Coenie Stoop, PG van Zyl, Michael du Toit, Doug McGuigan, Theunis Spangenberg, Desvonde Botes, Jeff Inglis (ENG), Matthew Carvell, Omar Sandys, Divan Gerber, Ryan Hood, Johan Etsebeth, Justin Harding, Mark Murless, Ali Tsai
73 - Ryan Thompson, Jaco Ahlers, Joe Nawanga (NAM), Prinavin Nelson, Bennie van der Merwe, Tyrone Ryan, Derek Scullard, Alan Michell, Christiaan Basson, Ryan Tipping, Anthony Michael, Mark Williams, Derick Petersen, JJ Senekal
74 - Johan du Buisson, Lourens Kleynhans, Andre van Zyl, George Sauerman, Teboho Sefatsa, Steven Ferreira, Daniel Greene
75 - Brett Liddle, David Hewan, PH McIntyre, Jake Redman, Warren Abery
76 - Michael McGrady, Reggie Adams, Adrian Ford, Andre Cruse, Kangwine Chiluba (ZAM)
77 - Garry Hill, Wandile Gininda, Neil Cheetham (ENG), Francois van Vuuren, Hendrik Buhrmann, Jacques Blaauw
78 - Michael Dreyer
79 - Stuart Clark (WAL), Peter Dlamini (SWZ)
80 - Johan Bekker
RTD - Louis Moolman