Johannesburg - Oliver Bekker has capitalised on a fast start on Thursday to take a share of the first-round lead of the Telkom Business PGA Championship at Country Club Johannesburg.
He carded a seven-under-par 65 to hold a one-stroke lead with Ulrich van den Berg over 2011 champion George Coetzee and Shaun Smith, with Ruan de Smidt and Christiaan Basson a further stroke back.
Bekker started his round on the back nine of the Woodmead course at Country Club Johannesburg, and picked up six birdies in two three-hole bursts, from the 12th to the 14th and the 16th to the 18th.
But things cooled for him on his way in, and a bogey on six, after two more birdies had taken him eight under, effectively halted any progress against par for him.
"It’s frustrating, because it’s happened to me a few times this year," Bekker said.
"The bogey I made was on a par-five, which is a hole where you think you can pick up a shot. That broke the momentum completely.
"Today I wanted to get to 10-under-par, so I didn’t get defensive and I continued attacking. I set myself a target, which I don’t always do, because it comes down to how you feel on the day.
"I felt like I was swinging it really nicely and I believed that if I kept it going I would shoot a really low score."
Van den Berg had a quiet opening nine after starting his round on the first, but cranked up the heat on the back nine.
"It was a slow start to the day and I hit a lot of great shots and didn’t make any putts," he said.
"I spun around the turn and made a whole heap of putts and got busy with a bunch of birdies, which was nice.
"That cooled down the frustration a little bit, because it gets upsetting when you’re hitting it close and they’re not going in."
There were no such frustrations for Smith and Coetzee.
"If someone said at the beginning of the day I would make six-under I would have grabbed it and run," said Smith.
Coetzee hit the fairways without a practice round to familiarise himself with a course he knows really well.
"I can picture every hole and remember the wind like it was yesterday," he said.
For Bekker, it’s about keeping it together now: "I’ve been swinging it well for the last three months now.
"If I can keep hitting it onto the fairway and onto the green, then I’ll keep giving myself a look at birdie.
"For an event like this, you need to have everything sharp and well-oiled. Hopefully this week will be that week for me," he said.
First round scores (RSA unless specified):
65 - Oliver Bekker, Ulrich van den Berg
66 - Shaun Smith, George Coetzee
67 - Ruan de Smidt, Christiaan Basson, Merrick Bremner, Danie van Tonder, Keenan Davidse
68 - Rhys West, Haydn Porteous, Charl Coetzee, Titch Moore, Colin Nel, James Kamte, Morne Buys
69 - Erik van Rooyen, Wynand Dingle, Francesco Laporta, Jean Hugo, Doug McGuigan, Rhys Enoch, Steven Ferreira, Daniel Greene, Adilson Da Silva, James Kingston, Allan Versfeld
70 - Callum Mowat, Ross Wellington, Divan van den Heever, Attie Schwartzel, Andrew Curlewis, Keith Horne, JJ Senekal, Alan McLean, Prinavin Nelson, Jack Harrison, Warren Abery, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Darren Fichardt, Vaughn Groenewald, Anthony Michael, Tyrone Ferreira, Steve Surry, Teboho Sefatsa, Pieter Moolman
71 - Gert Myburgh, TC Charamba, Ryan Tipping, Neil Cheetham, Michiel Bothma, Jbe' Kruger, Andrew Georgiou, Theunis Spangenberg, Torben Baumann, Juan Langeveld, Jean-Paul Strydom, Toto Thimba, PH McIntyre, Alex Haindl, Jacques Blaauw, Jaco Ahlers, Louis Moolman
72 - Jaco Prinsloo, Darryn Lloyd, Peter Karmis, Neil Schietekat, Jared Harvey, Alan Michell, Drikus van der Walt, Stuart Smith, Francois Coetzee, Micky Hough, CJ du Plessis, Makhetha Mazibuko, Jeff Inglis, Dean Burmester, Shaun Norris, Chris Swanepoel, Bryce Easton, Ryan Thompson, Kenneth Dube, Dale Howie
73 - Coenie Stoop, Tyrone Mordt, Grant Muller, Jaco Van Zyl, Graham van der Merwe, Kevin Stone, JC Ritchie, Eddie Taylor, Blanche Lamprecht, Maritz Wessels, Riekus Nortje, Lindani Ndwandwe, Lyle Rowe, Michael Hollick, Matthew Carvell, Adrian Ford
74 - Le Roux Ferreira, Thabang Simon, Heinrich Bruiners, Brandon Pieters, Johan du Buisson, John Bele, Clifford Howes, Dylan Frittelli, Jake Redman, Louis de Jager, Andre Cruse, Rudy Whitfield, Dean O'Riley
75 - Jacques Kruyswijk, Justin Harding, Martin du Toit, Mark Murless, Bennie van der Merwe, Ryan Strauss, Andrew Light
76 - Tyrone Ryan, Jandre Nel, Louis Calitz, Nic Henning, Desvonde Botes, Greg Bentley
77 - Justin Turner, Stefan Engell Andersen, Bryce Bibby, Paul de Beer, JG Claassen, Hendrik Buhrmann, Tertius van den Berg, Diether Schuss
78 - Peter Berman, Michael du Toit, Wallie Coetsee, Thomas Raatgever, Terence Salo, Drikus Bruyns, Ockie Strydom, Ryan Cairns, Yubin Jung, Allister de Kock, Sheldon Steyn, Gideon Pienaar
79 - Derick Petersen, Derek James
80 - Roberto Lupini, Mike Maile, Paul Marks
81 - Pieter Kruger, Desne van den Bergh
82 - TJ Bekker, Ben Fouchee
84 - Karl Haessler
85 - Louis Botha