By Michael Vlismas.
Photo: Carl Fourie/Sunshine Tour.
Cape Town – Jacques Blaauw built on the already good memories he has of Royal Cape Golf Club and added another one on Thursday as he posted a bogey-free six-under-par 66 to lead the first round of the Bain's Whisky Cape Town Open.
Blaauw finished a day of rain and wind in the Mother City with a one-shot lead over fellow South African Tristen Strydom, Denmark's Martin Simonsen and New Zealand's Daniel Hillier. A total of 18 players were unable to complete the first round because of darkness and will do so on Friday morning. But it's unlikely to affect Blaauw's lead.
"I grew up in Cape Town and played this golf course a lot. It's like coming back to a place where a lot of good memories have been made," said Blaauw, who was pleased to finally put together a bogey-free round amidst what has been a frustrating period in his game.
"I'm very happy. As of late I haven't been playing very well, so I'm very happy with six under par and without any bogeys in these tricky conditions. My caddie and I were speaking last week about putting together a few bogey-free rounds, so it was nice to do that here."
The Cape weather welcomed this Sunshine Tour and European Challenge Tour field in typical fashion with a wet start to the round and then enough wind to keep them all guessing throughout the day.
"The wind here is always either downwind or into you, so it can be tricky because you're either coming up short or can fly the green with your approaches. There are a couple of holes that are long into the wind. This morning we had a couple of holes where I was hitting four iron for my second shot into par fours. But I'm enjoying these greens a lot. They're running at a great pace."
Much like most of the world's professionals at the moment, Blaauw went in search of more distance off the tee and it ended up hurting more than helping his game. For this week, he says he's returned to playing the shots he feels more comfortable with.
"I started looking for speed and hitting the ball further, but that didn't work for me. I wasn't looking to hit the ball consistently further, but rather maybe to just have that extra five metres if I needed it. But my hands started taking over and I started struggling with my game. But this week we went back to hitting the shots I like. I just need to keep doing what I'm doing and not get ahead of myself."
One shot behind him, Strydom enjoyed another good start for the second week in succession. The saying is usually that behind every good golfer is a good woman. But in Strydom's case, being the good man alongside a good woman golfer recently has helped him this week.
"I caddied for my girlfriend (the amateur Bronwyn Doeg) a few weeks ago when the Cape Town Ladies Open was played at Royal Cape, and I kind of planned how I was going to play it then. It was nice to see the course from the other side, as a caddie. I could see where not to hit it, and I think that definitely helped me for this week, especially on the greens. When she played here I could see they weren't breaking that much and I put that in the memory bank for this week."