Sunshine Tour

Williams in control at Swazi Open

2018-05-10 17:58
Mark Williams (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Mark Williams of Zimbabwe backed up his fine opening round in the Royal Swazi Open with a grinding five-under-par 67 on Thursday to take his total to 27 points in the tournament which is decided by a Modified Stableford scoring system.

The system means five points can be won for an eagle, two for a birdie, and a point is lost for a bogey and three for a double or worse. Williams made seven birdies and two bogeys for 12 points, which put him a handy six points clear of a chasing pack consisting of Hennie du Plessis, Jean Hugo, Andre Nel and Oliver Bekker.

“Yesterday I made two eagles which helped the scorecard a lot,” said Williams. “I didn’t play great yesterday. I actually felt like I played better today, but without eagles on the card, it’s tough to get up to 15 points.

“I kind of had a slow start but just kept plodding along. I made three birdies on the front nine for just six point and then made two silly bogeys on the back nine. I managed to stay calm, even when I hit it in the water on 17. I managed to get it up and down for par, and then birdied 18. So it was a great finish, and it’s nice to be up there again.”

Of the players behind him, Bekker had the best round, scoring 13 points in his six-under 66, with seven birdies and just a single dropped shot. Bekker is a recent winner on the course, but his Lombard Insurance Classic victory last year in May came in a conventional stroke play format.

Hugo, the 2008 champion in this tournament, made 11 points in an early-morning start to a round which included seven birdies and a double-bogey. Du Plessis and Nel made nine points each to set themselves up for the final two rounds.

Besides Hugo, there are five other former champions inside the top 20. The most impressive of those is 52-year-old James Kingston, who won in 2013 and made 12 points on his way to a total of 20. Also there are Daniel van Tonder, the 2014 champion on 18 points, together with Titch Moore, who won in 2016, Christiaan Basson, the 2012 winner, also on 18 and defending champion Peter Karmis with 17 points.

It will be a tough pursuit of Williams, who is in his element with the Modified Stableford format. “This is one of my favourite tournaments,” he said. “It frees me up a little bit. I feel I can be aggressive out there, especially after the last three weeks up north. Those were tight golf courses with a lot of bush, so the driver’s been getting a good hammering this week.

“And I’ve got my game plan around here that pretty much stays the same. I’ve played here for probably the last 12 years, so I know what I’m doing out there. I’ll go out and play aggressively. There are a couple of holes where I don’t take it on, like the 10th, but if they put the flag in a tempting place, maybe I’ll go for it.”

Scores (Modified Stableford scoring):

27 - Mark Williams 15 12

21 - Hennie du Plessis 12 9, Jean Hugo 10 11, Andre Nel 12 9, Oliver Bekker 8 13

20 - James Kingston 8 12, Combrinck Smit 17 3

18 - Daniel van Tonder 17 1, Titch Moore 6 12, Benjamin Follett-Smith 13 5, Christiaan Basson 9 9, Riekus Nortje 15 3

17 - Dean Burmester 7 10, Colin Nel 6 11, Alex Haindl 6 11, Peter Karmis 12 5, Jared Harvey 6 11, George Coetzee 10 7

16 - JC Ritchie 3 13, Ockie Strydom 4 12, Martin Rohwer 5 11, Jaco Ahlers 10 6, Jason Froneman 10 6, Justin Harding 10 6, Vaughn Groenewald 4 12

15 - CJ du Plessis 4 11, Thabang Simon 7 8, Andre De Decker 12 3, Hennie Otto 13 2

14 - Duane Keun 10 4, Allister de Kock 5 9, Lyle Rowe 5 9

13 - Louis de Jager -3 16, Ulrich van den Berg 9 4, Daniel Greene 6 7, JJ Senekal 9 4

12 - Andrew van der Knaap 9 3, Toto Thimba 3 9, Ruan de Smidt 2 10, Rourke van der Spuy 4 8, Marc Cayeux 4 8

11 - Tyrone Ferreira 3 8, Wallie Coetsee 4 7, Merrick Bremner 3 8, Neil Schietekat 5 6, Jonathan Agren 5 6

10 - Bradford Vaughan 4 6, Andrew Curlewis 8 2

9 - Pieter Moolman 7 2

8 - Jaco Prinsloo -2 10, Heinrich Bruiners 0 8, Breyten Meyer 4 4

Missed the cut:

7 - Stephen Ferreira 2 5, Michael Hollick 4 3, Jake Roos 6 1, Chris Swanepoel -1 8

6 - Nic Henning 7 -1, Erhard Lambrechts 3 3, Matias Calderon 0 6

5 - Omar Sandys 2 3

4 - Dayne Moore 7 -3, Keenan Davidse 0 4, Doug McGuigan 2 2

3 - Irvin Mazibuko 6 -3, PH McIntyre 3 0, MJ Viljoen -2 5

-1 - Damon Stephenson 0 -1

-3 - Michael Palmer -6 3, Andrew Burmester 0 -3, Tyrone Ryan -2 -1

-6 - Jean-Paul Strydom 0 -6

-11 - Arthur Horne -3 -8

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