Cape Town - Solid ball-striking coupled with great putting helped Ruan Conradie to a birdie-laden 11-under-par 61 opening round of the Royal Swazi Spa Challenge where he is currently leading by three shots.
Teeing off in the afternoon when the course had taken something of a beating and with the leading score at eight-under, Conradie knew he had his work cut out for him if he was to challenge for the top spot early on in the tournament. His start – a bogey of the 10th hole, which was his first hole – was shaky by most standards, but he bounced back expertly; making a birdie and following that up with an eagle. Three more birdies got onto his card on the holes 12, 16 and 17, which were his fifth, seventh and eighth holes as he turned in 31.
“Off the tee I was pretty solid,” he said after his eventful round, “and from there, things were pretty straight-forward because with the fairways running out like that, it was just pitch and putt from there. This morning when I got to the course, I saw some low scores and kind of felt a need to be aggressive to score. So, from the get-go I tried to be aggressive.”
He picked up a birdie on the first hole, his 10th, but dropped a shot immediately after that. That was the last of the bogeys he made because from there, the former GolfRSA elite squad member made three birdies one after the other. He was not done, however, because after the par he made on the 15th, he made further gains; closing with three consecutive birdies to sign for a 61.
“I’ve had a little struggle over the last couple of months,” he admitted, “missing cuts at Sun City and in Kenya. So, I had a little bit of work to do on the long game and now it feels like it’s paying off.”
Closing in on him are Madalitso Muthiya of Zambia and rookie, Deon Germyshuis, who share the second spot at eight-under-par. Germyshuis’ round was more eventful than Muthiya’s who was bogey-free on day one, because despite making two bogeys on the day, he still made 10 birdies on his way to a 64.
Sharing fourth are Keith Horne and Darin de Smidt at seven-under while Rhys West, JC Ritchie, Neil Schietekat and Paul Boshoff make up the top 10 on six-under-par.
61 - Ruan Conradie
64 - Deon Germishuys, Madalitso Muthiya
65 - Keith Horne, Darin de Smidt
66 - Rhys West, JC Ritchie, Neil Schietekat, Paul Boshoff
67 - Alex Haindl, Haydn Porteous, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Derick Petersen, Anthony Michael, Jared Harvey, Kyle Barker, Jacques P de Villiers
68 - Adilson Da Silva, Erhard Lambrechts, Michael Palmer, Merrick Bremner, Benjamin Follett-Smith, Christiaan Basson, Jacques Blaauw, Allister de Kock, Dylan Mostert, Jake Redman, Thriston Lawrence, Ruan de Smidt, Luke Mayo, David McIntyre
69 - Cameron Moralee, Combrinck Smit, Titch Moore, Jake Roos, Keenan Davidse, Dylan Kok, Victor Lange, Aubrey Beckley, Wynand Dingle, Teaghan Gauche, Heinrich Bruiners, Hayden Griffiths
70 - Jade Buitendag, Musiwalo Nethunzwi, Dean Burmester, Doug McGuigan, Louis de Jager, Mike Maile, Martin Rohwer, Pieter Moolman, Greg Snow, Franklin Manchest, Thanda Mavundla, Clinton Grobler
71 - Altaaf Bux, Kyle McClatchie, Stefan Wears-Taylor, Jean Hugo, Jaco Prinsloo, Jaco Van Zyl, Tyrone Ryan, Jason Froneman, Ryan Tipping, Bennie van der Merwe, Keelan van Wyk, Hendrikus Stoop, Bradley Diggeden, Duane Keun, JJ Senekal, CJ du Plessis, Michael Hollick, Andre Nel
72 - Jacquin Hess, James Pennington, Wallie Coetsee, Toto Thimba, Bradford Vaughan, Wayne Stroebel, Dylan Naidoo, Roberto Lupini
73 - Juran Dreyer, Chris Swanepoel, Daniel van Tonder, Ockie Strydom, Dayne Moore, DK Kim, Andrew McLardy, Adriel Poonan, Teboho Sefatsa, Herman Loubser, Luke Jerling, MJ Viljoen, Alpheus Kelapile
74 - Shaun Norris, Anton Haig, Matt Bright, Ruan Korb, Estiaan Conradie, James Hart du Preez, Andrew van der Knaap, Thato Mazibuko
75 - Keelan Africa, Callum Mowat, Stephen Ferreira, Mark Williams, Riekus Nortje, Makhetha Mazibuko, Philip Geerts
76 - Sean Bradley
77 - Jonathan Waschefort, Andre De Decker, Matthew Rushton, Louis Albertse, Meshack Zwane, Ruan Huysamen
78 - Cameron Esau, Peetie van der Merwe
79 - Peter Dlamini
82 - Jason Diab