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17th January 2024 | Big Easy Tour

Geerts, Simpson take early lead at weather-affected Waterkloof

Italian Philip Geerts shot an eventful eight-under-par 64 in the opening round of the ninth tournament of the Altron Big Easy Tour to share the first-round lead by two strokes at Waterkloof Golf Club on Tuesday.

The round had to be suspended on a few occasions owing to inclement weather in the Capital. Still, even with those delays, Geerts was able to weave together a solid round to start this tournament. When it was evident that the bad weather was not letting up, play was eventually suspended, and this was before Simpson could finish his opening round on Tuesday.

“It kills the momentum a bit,” said Geerts of the weather-forced delays experienced on day one. “They suspended play just after I had gone eagle-birdie and I was a little bit bummed. But the key is to stay in the moment as much as you can.

“But, I have been putting in a lot of hard work lately and I felt like everything flowed nicely today. It’s wet out there and the course is playing a little bit longer than usual but it’s still not playing that long. The greens are rolling amazingly and if you can get the putter rolling – which is what I did the whole day – you will score well.

“This whole season I have been struggling with my putter – a little bit inconsistent. But today, it felt like all the hard work is paying off. I really think the key to playing well around here is to putt well.”

His round consisted of six birdies, two dropped shots and a brace of eagles.

Simpson had five birdies, two eagles and one dropped shot on his way to a share of the top spot.

“Yesterday was a long day,” Simpson noted after he finished his round in Wednesday. “I got here at 10 o’clock and ended teeing off at half-past four. It was difficult to start the whole routine again but I played nicely for the first eight holes despite the wind and the thunder showers. I was one-under after eight and then I came out this morning and got going again.

“I was just on the right side of the 18th, my ninth hole, for my tee shot and I hit an unbelievable 9-iron to about five feet and made the putt to start with an eagle today. I was in a really good mood going onto the first which was my 10th hole. I had struggled with my swing a bit at the beginning of the tournament but it felt like I found something on the back.”

Also producing a brilliant round of golf on day one was Travis Ladner whose six-under-par 66 placed him in second position and two shots off the lead. The soft-spoken Ladner who plays out of Eagle Canyon Country Club made five birdies, an eagle and a solitary bogey en route to his 66.

“I pulled my driver a bit left into the rough and luckily I found a gap and then I just went with a full 8-iron and it was perfect,” said Ladner of his eagle on 18. “It’s always nice to finish with an eagle. But I drove the ball well today and just stayed patient because it’s never easy to start a round and stop and start again. I was patient – and that’s my biggest strength: just staying in the moment and not getting frustrated by some things. Overall, I think I played well today.”

LB Boshoff, Calum Mowat, American Thomas Strandemo and Ruan Conradie produced respective rounds of five-under 67 to share fourth while Thabiso Ngcobo, Werner Deyzel, Conner McKenzie, Xander Basson, Warwick Purchase, Rheece McKain, Dylan O’Leary and and Englishman Joe Knox share the eighth spot after shooting 68s on day one.