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12th July 2023 | Big Easy Tour

Course-knowledge helps Albertse to early Reading lead

A combination of course knowledge and extreme patience helped Rigardt Albertse to a single stroke lead after he shot an opening round of six-under-par 65 in the Altron Big Easy Tour event held at Reading Country Club.

With the effect of the snow taking grip of most of Gauteng, the first day of this second tournament of the season meant it was going to be a cold and windy outing for the players. Ultimate concentration and patience were always going to be a big factor.

“It was a tricky day out there with the wind,” said Albertse, “but I felt like I missed it on the right spots and gave myself a lot of good chances and I putted very well. I’ve had a few good outings on this course. My last two Bushveld events here, I have won, so that gives you a bit of confidence. The most important thing for me was being good off the tee because it’s not a very long course, so if you keep it on the fairways and give yourself opportunities, you will score well.”

Albertse went off from the 10th tee, birdieing that hole before making further gains on the 12th, his third hole of the day. Then, two more birdies – on his fifth and ninth holes – graced his card for a blemish-free 31 on the front nine.

Coming home, The Dundee Country Club player had to be extra cautious as the wind began to swirl. A trio of pars to get settled was followed by a much-needed birdie. A bogey on his 15th hole threatened to halt his progress but Albertse recovered swiftly with back-to-back birdies to seal a round of 65.

“I’m happy with the first round because you always want to start well so that whatever happens in the following rounds, you have an opportunity to fight,” Albertse added. “I know there’s still a lot of golf to be played but I’ve put myself in a good position and hopefully, I can do the same in the second round and try to get myself into contention for the final round.”

Abertse is aware that his slender lead can be easily overturned, especially with the trio of Makhetha Mazibuko, Keegan Mclachlan and Aneurin Gounden just a shot off the lead. Gounden was flawless in round one, producing a bogey-free 66 while Mazibuko and Mclachlan had to deal with a few big numbers on their scorecards.

“I just stuck to my processes today and did the best I could,” said Gounden who plays out of the famed Ebotse Golf Links. “The key was to keep warm and keep your thoughts about you. You’ve got to hit and miss your tee shots on the right spots here to allow yourself to approach the green correctly. On the greens also, you’ve got to miss it on the right spots to allow yourself to up-and-down when it’s necessary. It’s a good course and there are scoring opportunities out there.”

Veteran Andrew McLardy and Zambia’s Dayne Moore carded 67s for a share of fifth after day one while Sentanio Minnie and Werner Deyzel’s 68s placed them in share of seventh. Mauritius’ Pierre Pellegrin and Travis Ladner share ninth on the leaderboard after respective rounds of two-under-par