Johannesburg – Jayden Schaper enjoyed an excellent day on his home course of Ebotse Links as all aspects of his game came through for him in a seven-under-par 65 that gave him a share of the lead with Clinton Grobler and Ockie Strydom after the first round of the Fortress Invitational on Friday.
The highly-promising Schaper began his round on the 10th hole with a birdie, and followed that up with consecutive gains on the 12th and 13th holes. A marvellous outgoing nine holes was capped by birdies at the par-three 15th and par-five 18th, seeing him go to the turn in just 31 strokes.
Schaper picked up three more birdies in four holes from the fourth, and even a bogey at the par-three eighth could not put a damper on a superb round of golf.
“Playing on my home course is a bit of an advantage because I know where certain pins are, where to miss and which bunkers to avoid,” Schaper said after his best round of the Sunshine Tour season so far.
“But you’ve still got to hit the ball well, hit the shots and make the putts. In the last couple of weeks, my tee-to-green play has been solid and I’ve been slowly getting better on the greens too.
“Today I just played really solid golf, I made good decisions and hit some really good shots. I was consistent today,” Schaper said.
The return of long-time coach Grant Veenstra from the United States may also have played a role in the impressive showing, with Schaper saying “it was the first week I’ve seen him in the last couple of months and it was really good to have him back to help out.”
Grobler, the 28-year-old Krugersdorp golfer, also started on the 10th and began the round with three straight birdies, while bogeying the 17th and fourth holes on the way to his 65. The highlight of his round was his eagle-three on the 18th.
The in-form Strydom, from the nearby Serengeti Estate, cruised through the front nine in four-under-par, but then the rollercoaster began: The 37-year-old bogeyed the par-four 10th, then grabbed a hat-trick of birdies from the 12th, dropped a shot at 17, but then finished spectacularly with an eagle on the last hole to vault into a share of the lead.
The leaderboard is congested, with five golfers shooting 66, including the veteran Hennie Otto, the American Dan Erickson, the amateur Kyle de Beer, as well as Makhetha Mazibuko and Richard Joubert.
Wynand Dingle, the winner of the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series San Lameer event three weeks ago, is in the group on five-under-par.
65 – Clinton Grobler, Ockie Strydom, Jayden Schaper
66 – Makhetha Mazibuko, Hennie Otto, Richard Joubert, Kyle De Beer, Dan Erickson
67 – Wade Jacobs, Wynand Dingle, Siyanda Mwandla
68 – Stephen Ferreira, Anthony Michael, Pieter Moolman, Keagan Thomas, Quintin Wilsnach, James Kamte
69 – Kevin Rhoderick, Joe Long, Jonathan Broomhead, Toto Thimba Jnr, Thabang Simon, Callum Mowat, Matthew Spacey, Fredrik From, Bradley Bawden, Clancy Waugh, Keith Horne
70 – Desvonde Botes, Christiaan Burke, Peter Karmis, Harry Konig, Adam Breen, Kyle Barker, Jaco Van Zyl, Michael Palmer, Dylan Naidoo, Christiaan Basson, Kyle McClatchie, Neil Schietekat, Sean Cronje, Divan van den Heever, Wallie Coetsee, Steve Surry, Rupert Kaminski, Martin Rohwer, Keenan Davidse, Ryan Van Velzen, Albert Venter, Jean Hugo, Jaco Prinsloo, Sean Bradley, Ruan Conradie, Paul Boshoff, Aneurin Gounden
71 – Samuel Simpson, Martin Vorster, Rourke van der Spuy, Dylan Mostert, Ruan Korb, Jbe’ Kruger, Doug McGuigan, Therion Nel, Mandla Dlamini Jnr, Adriel Poonan, Danie Van Niekerk, Jared Harvey, Herman Loubser, Malcolm Mitchell, Keelan van Wyk
72 – Rhys West, Jake Redman, Hennie O’Kennedy, Heinrich Bruiners, Stefan Wears-Taylor, Michael Kok, MJ Viljoen, Luke Jerling, Ulrich van den Berg, Merrick Bremner, Riekus Nortje, Nikhil Rama, Jastice Mashego
73 – James Mack, JJ Senekal, Madalitso Muthiya, Luca Filippi, Clayton Mansfield, Gerard du Plooy, Tristin Galant, Vaughn van Deventer, Joshua Seale, Brooklin Bailey, Estiaan Conradie, Jacques Blaauw, Ruan de Smidt, Michael Hollick
74 – Thanda Mavundla, Erhard Lambrechts, Louis Albertse, Combrinck Smit, Jordan Duminy, Andre De Decker, Franklin Manchest, Leon Vorster, Henning du Plooy
75 – CJ du Plessis, Andre Van Dyk, Lindani Ndwandwe, Brody Harbinson, Musiwalo Nethunzwi
76 – Hayden Griffiths, Gerrit Foster, Mutahi Kibugu, Lincon Denzy Cele, Keelan Africa, Maverick Faber, Chris Cannon, Dean O’Riley, Brandon-Jude Rennie
77 – Shaahid Mahmed, Irvin Mazibuko, Tumelo Molloyi, Steven Le Roux
78 – Benjamin Follett-Smith, Dwayne Basson, Jovan Rebula, Lyle Rowe
79 – James Pennington, Chris Swanepoel
81 – Brian Gondo, Evance Vukeya
82 – Jacquin Hess, Gareth Sargent
83 – Sipho Bujela
86 – Lwazi Gqira
RTD – Yubin Jung