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Golf | SA

Bryce Easton © Gallo Images

Ace Bryce tames the beast



Bryce Easton picked up a golf club very soon after being born 25 years and 155 days ago. In this time he’s racked up some phenomenal achievements in his golfing career, but a hole-in-one was not one of them.

A soaring seven-iron at the 167-metre 12th hole of Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club’s East course in the first round of the Joburg Open on Thursday ended his long wait for the elusive ace, and it goes without saying that he picked a good day to break his duck.

“It’s one of those things – you don’t think about it when you’re playing the hole, but when it goes in it takes a couple of seconds to realise that it’s actually disappeared. It’s just such an awesome feeling to get it on the board, especially because it’s my first one,” an elated Easton told a media room after his round.

For good measure, the Hilton Hotel rewarded him with a million honours points, and the prize, which equates to an estimated value of R100 000, understandably went down well with the Durban resident.

“I was delighted with that - the points are such a nice bonus!” Easton smiled.

But the hole-in-one was simply the cherry on top of what was a remarkable seven-under par round of 65 at the infamously long East course. The 7 000m layout has earned a reputation as the tougher of the two courses, and its severe length has generally restricted scoring opportunities for players in recent years. Easton, however, had no such difficulties, and the ace was well complemented by five birdies to leave him sitting pretty just one stroke adrift of the lead.

“There were a few things. I missed a few fairways and I’ve got to figure out the driver a little bit, but I scored well,” Easton explained. “I had a chip-in on the par-five eighth, which helped me. But I wouldn’t say I flushed it today, so we’ve got some work to do this afternoon. It’s nice to have a round like that, where you don’t hit it great and still manage to put a good score together.”

“Golf is a funny game. You have rounds like I did today, where you don’t strike it and you still score well. Other days you can flush it and not score. You don’t know – there’s a long way to go,” he added.

After turning pro in 2011, Easton cut his teeth on the Big Easy Tour. But a 20th place finish at the 2011 Alfred Dunhill Championship earned him a cheque for R113 000, and he catapulted into the top-50 on the Sunshine Tour’s Order of Merit that year.

Easton then took full advantage of his full playing card in 2012, as he picked up two victories en route to a 37th place in the Order of Merit. But, despite the sensational breakthrough season he enjoyed, Easton still sees plenty of room for improvement, and has earmarked good performances in the co-sanctioned events as the next step in his blossoming career.

“I’d like to play consistently and compete consistently in these bigger events. Last year it was nice to get a couple of wins, but at the end of the year in the bigger events I didn’t do much, like I almost expected myself to. I think it was good for me, in a way, to miss the cuts by a couple here and there, and go back to the drawing board,” Easton reflected.

“I’m looking forward to this year very much and hopefully I’ll compete more consistently in the bigger events.”

Today’s efforts will have given Easton good reason to believe that this could be his week, and he may just find himself atop the leaderboard tomorrow if he can replicate today’s form on the West course – a track with which he is more familiar.

“I know the West Course a bit better than the East, so I am looking forward to tomorrow. This was only my second round on the East Course, so I’m obviously really happy with my score,” he said.

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