Pieters leads in Sun City

2012-05-24 18:07

Sun City - Johan du Buisson knows golf too well to read too much into his opening six-under-par 66 on Thursday, but to be one off the pace in the opening round of the R550 000 Sun City Challenge made him smile as much as he has all year.

He trailed leader Brandon Pieters who carded a fine seven-under-par 65, and he shared second after the opening round on the tough 6 983m Lost City Golf Course with Daniel Hammond, Andrew Georgiou, Bryce Easton, Trevor Fisher Jnr and Allan Versveld.

“I think my gameplan was good - fairways and greens,” said the 32-year-old Stellenbosch professional, “and I made some good putts - but golf is not always that easy.

And after he came second in the 2010 Zambia Open - his best finish on the Sunshine Tour since he turned pro in 2009 - he probably felt entitled to expect more of his game.

But he managed only two more top 10s in 2011, and his 2012 is a litany of four missed cuts.

This month he finally got into the money with a 32nd in Swaziland and a 34th at Simola - hardly enough to keep a career flourishing.

So the 66 was a day to be treasured. “I’m starting to get my confidence back,” he said. “It’s very tough to battle the way I have been. It breaks you. You know you have it in you but you just can’t get over the hurdles.

“But it’s nice getting the scores back under par again. Getting a round like this really helps. I was struggling, but I have been working hard and it’s paying off so far.”

Pieters is another player who has had to knuckle down and work to turn around a poor 2012.

“Today showed what a bit of practice in the last week or two can do,” said Pieters.

“Practice is just hard work, really. If you want to get somewhere in this game, you’ve got to work really hard and I’ve just had a lot of things on my plate this year. But I’ve been given an opportunity to play and practice again, so I’m going to take it with both hands.”

And sharing second with Du Buisson was rookie Hammond, who only made it into the main draw of the tournament in a playoff for the final spot with a one-under 71.

He was five strokes better in the opening round with seven birdies and a bogey, all the more remarkable given it was only his second time around the Lost City.

Easton also had a bogey in his round, but five birdies and an eagle helped him on his way; Georgiou was error-free in his round, continuing a good run for him lately, and it has come in tome for his maiden appearance in next month’s Open Championship.

Fisher and Versfeld played in the afternoon field, and they, too, had a dropped shot in their rounds, but some good scoring kept them in touch with the top of the leaderboard and a stroke clear of Toto Thimba and Callie Swart who were on five-under.

Scores (RSA unless specified):

65 - Brandon Pieters
66 - Daniel Hammond, Andrew Georgiou, Bryce Easton, Johan du Buisson, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Allan Versfeld
67 - Toto Thimba (Jnr), Callie Swart
68 - Neil Cheetham (ENG), Doug McGuigan
69 - Danie van Tonder, James Kamte, Oliver Bekker, Jake Redman, Theunis Spangenberg
70 - Titch Moore, Grant Muller, Justin Walters, Andrew Curlewis, Desvonde Botes, Merrick Bremner, Adilson Da Silva (BRA), Ryan Cairns (ZIM), Lindani Ndwandwe
71 - Wallie Coetsee, Colin Nel, PH McIntyre, Matthew Carvell, Hendrik Buhrmann, Jacques Blaauw, Ruan de Smidt, Jean Hugo, Bradford Vaughan, Shaun Norris, Des Terblanche, Andre Cruse, Louis de Jager
72 - Stefan Engell Andersen (KEN), Dean O'Riley, Johann Mostert, Ulrich van den Berg, Christiaan Basson, Michiel Bothma, Louis Calitz, Divan van den Heever, Morne Buys
73 - Ryan Tipping, Jake Roos, Albert Pistorius, Brett Liddle, Ross Wellington, Vaughn Groenewald
74 - Steven Ferreira, Jaco Ahlers
75 - Gary Birch Jr (GER), JG Claassen, Mark Murless, Tyrone Mordt, Charl Coetzee
76 - Daniel Greene, Jared Harvey, Dion Fourie, Prinavin Nelson, Omar Sandys, Alan Michell
77 - Mark Williams
78 - Michael Scholz
79 - Ockie Strydom, Jeff Inglis (ENG)
80 - Dean Burmester, Justin Harding