Louis Oosthuizen carded a stunning bogey free round of 63 to open up a three shot lead after day one of the Nedbank Golf Challenge hosted by Gary Player – the seventh Rolex Series event on the 2019 Race to Dubai.
The South African has claimed five of his nine European Tour wins on home soil but has yet to lift the trophy at the event they call “Africa’s Major”- although he has three top tens in his last four appearances at Gary Player Country Club.
His victory earlier this season at the South African Open hosted by the City of Johannesburg fulfilled a long held ambition to win his national championship and he now has the perfect platform to launch a challenge for a first Rolex Series win.
His nine under par effort was made all the more remarkable by the fact that he withdrew from Wednesday’s pro-am with kidney stones and was not sure he would be able to play at all just hours before his tee time.
Belgian Thomas Detry is Oosthuizen’s nearest challenger at six under par, one shot ahead of Italy’s Guido Migliozzi, who is in contention for the Rookie of the Year crown after recording two wins in his debut season.
Defending champion Lee Westwood, three time winner Ernie Els and another home favourite in Zander Lombard are at four under par, while 2017 Race to Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood and South African pair George Coetzee and Richard Sterne are amongst a group of ten players at three under par.
“Considering that at 3am this morning, I didn’t think I was doing going to tee it up, I’m very chuffed with that round. I woke yesterday with kidney stones and this morning was very uncomfortable, but it sort of eased at 6, 7am. You could see me walking slower and just going at everything a little slower out there.
“But I know I played good at the WGC-HSBC Champions two weeks ago and I know the swing is there, the putting’s there. I just need to be healthy to play.
“I just love this golf course. One of my first wins on the Sunshine Tour was here, the Dimension Data, and every time I play here, it brings back a lot of good memories.”
“I had it going pretty quickly. I have got good vibes out here. I played pretty well here last year. Not quite as good as Louis today, but pretty happy.
“I’ve been playing really, really well recently. You know, again last week, I was 11-under after two rounds and didn’t play quite as good on the weekend, but I’m very comfortable with my game, and if I can keep the putter hot for four days, then something might happen.”
“I played solid tee-to-green and really happy about my game. It’s been a good round. I started very good, six under par for the front nine.
“Rookie of the Year is something I would like to get. The competitors are really good, but let’s see what this week and the next one will bring, too.”
“You can’t win this tournament on the first day. Anything under 70 always feels like a great start to this tournament.
“I played well. Controlled the ball flight. Could have hit a few more fairways. Would have made it a little easier. I was in the rough too often, but no bogeys and 68 was a great start.”