He’s never made an eagle in the Investec Royal Swazi Open before, but Albert Pistorius made two on Wednesday on his way to the first round lead on the 6 140- metre par-72 Royal Swazi Spa Golf Course.
He has played the event three times before, and made two bogeys in his opening nine, before coming home in six-under-par 30 for a four-under-par 68 – but it was not that score that mattered.
The tournament is played on a modified stableford system, with eight points for an albatross, five for an eagle, two for a birdie and none for par. One point is deducted for every birdie and two for double or worse.
So the eagles on 12 and 17 suddenly became critical, as did the three birdies he picked up on 13, 15 and 18, and the single drop on 14 cost him the early outright lead as he shared top spot with qualifier Mark Williams on 13 points.
“There’s no doubt the format is more relaxing,” said Pistorius. “Making a bogey is not as disastrous as in stroke play, as long as you keep doubles off the card.”
That was something Williams didn’t manage, as he took a two-over six on the 400-metre 11th. He had three bogeys on his card – on the third, fourth and 15th – but he more than made up for those lapses with an impressive array of seven birdies and an eagle-three on the 461-metre 12th.
“The par-fives are all eagle holes here, as long as you’re reasonable off the tees,” said Pistorius.
He got his second close on the 502-metre 17th and chipped in for the second of his two eagles, as he more than made up for his poor start: “I was on minus two through 11 holes today,” he said.
Brandon Pieters was alone in third place with 12 points, while Tyrone Mordt and Neil Schietekat had 11 points each in a share of fourth.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s leading professional Tongo Charamba who was was expected to tee off yesterday pulled out at the eleventh hour although his name still appears on the second round draw scheduled to tee off this morning.
This left the tournament without any Zimbabwean in contention after local pros Ignatius Mketekete and Tranos Muradzikwa failed to make the cut after the pre-qualifiers at the same venue on Tuesday.