Louis Oosthuizen was more than comfortable with his first round 69 as he builds towards a run at his first Nedbank Golf Challenge title.
Two-time winner at Gary Player Country Club Sergio Garcia was the man to break from the field on Thursday with a sublime 64, his second-best round in European Tour action according to the strokes gained metric.
Oosthuizen was not far behind especially after starting in fine style with four birdies in his opening seven holes that saw his name rocket to the top of the leaderboard. It was more of a struggle in the holes that followed but he’s certainly happy with how he fares against the field in the high-profile Rolex Series event.
‘It was a great start you know and still I played really well from 8 to 14 but couldn’t really make a putt,’ said Oosthuizen, who is safely tucked into the top 10 after the day’s play.
‘That kind of halted my momentum for sure. The last three or four holes I started to swing it a bit faster and didn’t really execute my shots and kinda got lucky to play that sequence in par.
‘All in all a three-under start is good even with my fast start which went against how difficult it was with the wind.’
Oosthuizen was quick to point out how tough navigating the wind was, going as far to say that his caddie will have many more grey hairs after today. ‘Everywhere you look, the wind is doing something different. The course is tough and so it was a good day for those knock-down shots. It’s such a great golf course and so tough.’
The former Open champion wasn’t overly surprised at Garcia’s opening effort, which could hint towards more low scores as the week progresses. ‘He’s so good and loves it around here. If you hit your driver or even 3-wood well, it can be a huge advantage.’
Oosthuizen believes that anyone within four shots going into Sunday will have a good chance provided their putter is working.
‘The greens are so good, so subtle in some places. It’s easy to see how people can leave putts short. If you get going, you can make up some distance.’
The popular South African insists his start, combined with that of Garcia’s electric day, won’t have an effect on how he plays round two or three.
‘I’ll do everything the same until Sunday. If I need to push, then maybe it’ll be a case of taking a few more risks.’
As the heat ramps up at Sun City and the weekend crowds descend, there will be ample support for the man known by many as ‘King Louis’. All that’s needed now is the crowning moment at ‘Africa’s Major’.
Photo: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images