Wind batters pros in Mother City
Mark Williams took advantage of his early morning tee-time and fired a 66 in the opening round of the inaugural Lion of Africa Cape Town Open at Royal Cape Golf Club on Thursday, and finished the day one stroke ahead of Jaco van Zyl, who posted five-under.
The wind was still prominent during the morning round when Williams and his colleagues took to the course, but it picked up significantly as the afternoon wore on and inflicted misery on many of the Tour’s finest professionals. In fact, just 28 players out of a field of 156 broke par all day.
Former South African Open champion Hennie Otto was one of the big names to feel the wrath of the Cape Doctor, as he struggled to an opening round of 75.
“This afternoon was at least a four club wind, maybe even a five club wind. It was a bit tricky out there, but that’s what the golf course gives you. I only hit one bad shot all day, and it cost me a double-bogey. But it was the same for everybody this afternoon.
“It just shows you what this golf course can do when there is some wind. It was quite a grind out there today, and it was difficult,” he said.
The 36 year-old came into the event off the back of a remarkable course-record 62 in the final round of last week’s SA Open, but couldn’t quite replicate his heroics at the challenging Cape layout.
“After a 62 you’ve always got confidence, and that’s what it felt like when I played today. I could feel there is something there after that, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow to see if I can get a lower one in,” he said.
After a day of carnage, the projected cut currently stands at +2, so Otto’s round carries an air of respectability and he remains very much in the fray. But the day belonged to Big Easy star Williams, who dazzled the course with some fine shots. Van Zyl will go to bed tonight in sole possession of second place, while Toto Thimba Jnr, Colin Nel, Alan McLean, Andre Cruse and Darren Fichardt all lie in a group two strokes further back at three-under.
Tomorrow’s forecast is for slightly more innocuous conditions, and might provide those who toiled with some respite. However, with some big names in the mix, it’s shaping up for a fine tournament in the Mother City.