Sunshine Tour

Duo share Telkom PGA lead

2013-03-14 18:59
JP Strydom (Photo: Petri Oeschger)
Johannesburg - Ulrich van den Berg was in a buoyant mood after knocking in eight birdies for a 64 and a share of pole in the first round of the Telkom PGA Championship at Country Club Johannesburg, but it was rookie JP Strydom who had more reasons to smile on Thursday.

On a day when the big names made no impression, it was the seasoned Van den Berg, Strydom and a slew of young golfers that rose to the challenge.

The leaders finished one shot clear of three-time Sunshine Tour winner Chris Swanepoel, who credited Olympic Team psychologist Ben Steyn for keeping his head in the game. Swanepoel carded a one-bogey 65 and shares third with Le Roux Ferreira, another rookie who dropped just one shot around the Woodmead course layout.

The pair lead early pacesetters, Steve Surry and Keenan Davidse, by one and are two clear of Jean Hugo and Jaco van Zyl, in the bus at five under alongside former top SA amateurs Dylan Frittelli, Ruan de Smidt and Thabo Maseko.

Strydom could hardly contain his joy at being in the logjam.

While Van den Berg has posted results in four of his five starts this season, with a tie for 11th at the Joburg Open his best performance, the rookie has been adjusting to the pro ranks since turning pro in December and has made just one cut at the Dimension Data Pro-Am.

And he thought another tough day at the office was on the cards when he three-putted the par-four 10th, his opening hole.

“All I could think was, here we go again,” said the 21-year-old from Durbanville. “I just shrugged it off and moved on, but after birdying the next two holes, that bogey didn’t even matter anymore. I made three more before the turn. Then I knew it was going to be a good day.

“But this course suits my eye and if you hit it straight here and get in on the green, you can score.”

Strydom collected three more birdies on his outward nine to turn in 32. Another run of three from the fourth to the sixth left him within striking distance of Van den Berg and he matched his 64 when he poured in a 15-footer for birdie at the eighth.

“Looking ahead at the next three days, it is just really important for me to focus on the shots and not get ahead of myself,” he said. “This is a low scoring course and if you are driving it well and the putter is working, you will score.

“There are a lot of guys out there to beat, though, so I will need to keep focused.”

Van den Berg, a veteran of 14 years with six Sunshine Tour trophies on his mantle, switched from the belly putter he started using at Leopard Creek in December, to an old putter he used five years ago last week and voila, he started finding the hole.

“The score says it all; I didn’t make any bogeys and that was encouraging,” the 37-year-old said.

“I have started to find some form the last few days, so it is nice to see the score come up on the board when it really counts.

I’ve put a couple of good rounds together, one in the pro-am and one in a nice little pro-am we had here for 24 pros on Friday.

“It’s nice to do it when it counts. It’s easy in the nets but it’s always tougher when the quicks are batting with a new ball.”

World No 50 Richard Sterne struggled to an even-par 72 and shares 83rd spot with defending champion Keith Horne, while
Order of Merit leader Darren Fichardt slumped to an opening 73.

Scores (RSA unless specified):

64 - Ulrich van den Berg, Jean-Paul Strydom
65 - Chris Swanepoel, Le Roux Ferreira
66 - Steve Surry (ENG), Keenan Davidse
67 - Johan Bekker, Charl Coetzee, Christiaan Basson, Jean Hugo, Dylan Frittelli, Jaco Van Zyl, Ruan de Smidt, Thabo Maseko
68 - Chris Erasmus, Jeff Inglis (ENG), James Kamte, Oliver Bekker, Hennie Otto, Bryce Easton, Desvonde Botes, Andrew Georgiou, Ockie Strydom, Bryan Martin (USA), Tjaart van der Walt, Merrick Bremner, Warren Abery, Divan van den Heever, Louis de Jager, Grant Muller, Brandon Detweiler (USA)
69 - Louis Moolman, Hendrik Buhrmann, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Ben Mannix (ENG), Graham van der Merwe, Derik Ferreira, Kenneth Dube, Willie van der Merwe, Attie Schwartzel, Matthew Carvell, Vaughn Groenewald, Brandon Pieters, Des Terblanche
70 - Dean Le Vieux, Pieter Kruger, Peter Wilson (ENG), Danie van Tonder, Tyrone Ferreira, Justin Harding, Wynand Dingle, Duane Keun, Kyle Stevens, Michael du Toit, Riekus Nortje, Allan Versfeld, Neil Schietekat, Justin Walters, Jake Roos, Shaun Norris, James Kingston, JG Claassen, Ross McGowan (ENG), Neil Cheetham (ENG), Andre Cruse, Brett Liddle
71 - Daniel Hammond, Anthony Michael, Colin Nel, PH McIntyre, Doug McGuigan, Theunis Spangenberg, Albert Pistorius, Morne Buys, Louis Calitz, Toto Thimba (Jnr), JP van der Walt, Maritz Wessels, Pieter Moolman, Tyrone Ryan, Martin du Toit, Jake Redman
72 - Beyers Smith, Alan McLean (SCO), Paul Marks, Dean Burmester, Lyle Rowe, Ryan Cairns (ZIM), Jaco Ahlers, Richard Sterne, Keith Horne, Steven Ferreira, Daniel Greene, Andrew Curlewis, Heinrich Bruiners, Jannie Botha, Jared Harvey, Lindani Ndwandwe, Kevin Stone, Teboho Sefatsa, Wallie Coetsee, Peter Karmis, Johan du Buisson, Bennie van der Merwe, Grant Veenstra
73 - Mikhail Tewary, Dean O'Riley, Travis Fraser, Gerhard Trytsman, Micky Hough (ZIM), Dismas Indiza (KEN), Bradley Sinnett, Omar Sandys, Titch Moore, Michiel Bothma, Darren Fichardt, Jacques van Tonder, CJ du Plessis
74 - Bradford Vaughan, MJ Daffue, Johan de Beer, Darryn Lloyd, Blanche Lamprecht, Jacques Blaauw, David Hewan, Mark Murless, JJ Senekal, Yubin Jung
75 - Tsietsi Chabangu, John Bele, Torben Baumann (GER), Jacques Kruyswijk, Chris Williams, Shaun Ellis, Divan Gerber, Henk Alberts
76 - Arthur Horne (SWZ), Alan Michell, Alex Haindl, Gert Myburgh, Laurie Canter (ENG), Michael Hollick, Ryan Tipping, Johan van Vuuren
77 - Thomas Lovett, Joshua Cunliffe, Frans Strauss, Mark Williams, Ross Wellington, Prinavin Nelson
78 - Clifford Howes, Ryan Strauss, Tyrone Mordt, Desne van den Bergh
79 - Rudy Whitfield, Thabang Simon


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