Cape Town - Ulrich van den Berg carded 64 during the first round of the Sun City Challenge on Wednesday to lead the R700,000 tournament by three strokes.
The seven-time Sunshine Tour winner had a great day on the greens of Lost City Golf Course and shot 30 on his outward nine, which set him up to reach eight-under-par by the end of day one.
“I’ve done a nice job today to get myself into contention. I hit some very close shots and then held the round together by staying patient. There are still 36 holes to go and we’ll take it one round and one shot at a time,” he told the Sunshine Tour website.
The 40-year-old was quick to get scoring, despite the Sunshine Tour taking a two-month break over the winter period. He birdied his first five holes and never looked back.
“I’ve taken a long rest and then started practicing about three weeks ago. I made sure I was comfortable with my putter and it made all the difference today,” he said.
“I’ve never seen the greens like this,” he added. “They’re rolling at about 12 on the stimp and are perfect surfaces. It’s testimony to the greenkeeper and his crew, because we’ve come to this course many times over the years and I’ve never seen the greens this quick and perfect.”
Over the second nine his charge slowed down, but experience kept him out of trouble and he went on to add a further two gains before signing for 64.
“I went through a slightly tough stretch from the ninth to the 13th, but managed to keep it together. I’m very chuffed, but there is a long way to go, so today is a nice step in the right direction. You have to carry on going,” he concluded.
Andrew Curlewis managed to chip in for eagle at the par-five 18th, which helped him to take up second place on five-under-par. He was pleased to be in contention so soon after the hiatus.
“After eight weeks break to come out and shoot five-under was good fun. There was an eagle and a double bogey, along with some birdies, so my round was a bit of everything,” he said.
First round scores (RSA unless otherwise specified):
64 - Ulrich van den Berg
67 - Andrew Curlewis
68 - Neil Schietekat, Keith Horne
69 - Thabang Simon, Ockie Strydom, Divan Gerber, Tyrone
70 - Wallie Coetsee, Bryce Bibby, Etienne Bond
71 - Russel Franz, Eddie Taylor, Pieter Moolman, Neil
Cheetham (ENG), Charl Coetzee, Danie van Tonder, Colin Nel, Jake Roos, Dean
Burmester, Trevor Mahoney, Breyten Meyer, Ruan de Smidt
72 - Dayne Moore (ZAM), Ryan Cairns (ZIM), Desvonde Botes,
Mark Murless, Chris Swanepoel, Werner van Niekerk, Toto Thimba (Jnr), Derik
Ferreira, Jared Harvey, Erik van Rooyen
73 - Justin Turner, Le Roux Ferreira, Kevin Stone, Drikus
van der Walt, Michael Hollick, Drikus Bruyns, Grant Veenstra, Stuart Smith
74 - Antonio Rosado (POR), Morne Buys, Burger Heckroodt,
Peter Karmis, Callum Mowat, Christiaan Basson, Allan Versfeld, Justin Harding,
Mark Williams (ZIM)
75 - JeanPaul Strydom, Adilson Da Silva (BRA), Ryan Tipping,
Theunis Spangenberg, Ruan Huysamen (NAM), Jacquin Hess, Maritz Wessels, Wynand
Dingle, Lindani Ndwandwe, Martin Maritz, JC Ritchie, Doug McGuigan, Shaun
Norris, Derick Petersen
76 - James Kamte, Michiel Bothma, Keenan Davidse, Dongkwan
Kim (KOR), Jbe' Kruger, Jacques Blaauw, JJ Senekal, Louis de Jager, Andrew
77 - Francois Coetzee, Anthony Michael, Allister de Kock,
Bradford Vaughan, Rhys West, CJ du Plessis
78 - Hennie du Plessis, Daniel Hammond, Titch Moore, Bryce
Easton, Heinrich Bruiners, Jean Hugo, Warren Abery, Lyle Rowe, Jake Redman,
Jacques Kruyswijk, Roberto Lupini, Coert Groenewald
79 - Trevor Fisher Jnr, Steven Ferreira, Tyrone Ryan
80 - Greg Bentley (ZIM), MJ Viljoen
81 - Tyron Roelofsz, Zander Lombard, Tyrone Mordt, Madalitso
82 - Vaughn Groenewald
83 - Kevin Rundle, Michael Scholz, Jaco Ahlers, PH McIntyre
84 - Stefan Engell Andersen (KEN), Grant Muller