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6th June 2022 | Big Easy Tour

Hendler, Pickering share opening round lead at Huddle Park

Ricky Hendler’s aggressive approach paid off in round one of the second tournament of the Altron Big Easy Tour, yielding an eventful 66 to share the opening-round lead with Slade Pickering at Huddle Park Golf Club on Monday.

“I’ve been playing aggressive all season,” admitted Hendler, “I decided that this year I will play a bit more aggressively; hit driver almost everywhere I can. My driver lets me attack the course and it’s been the best club in my bag. I’ve been hitting it good off the tee but I didn’t hit a lot of fairways today. I hit it pretty long and kept it in play, so I am happy with today’s score.”

The left-handed Hendler started his round from the 10th tee and birdied that hole to set the tone. A double-bogey on the 11th, however, threatened to throw him off but after two straight pars, Hendler bounced back with an eagle to get it going again. And then, more gains followed with the Dainfern Golf Club member birdieing the 16th and 18th to turn in 33.

He made another birdie on the second hole – his 11th hole for the day –to get to four-under before backing that up with two more birdies which came on his 15th and 18th holes to seal a round of 66 and claim a spot atop the leaderboard after round one.

Tied with Hendler for the top spot on day one, Pickering was also just as impressive as he carded a bogey-free six-under 66. He also teed off from the 10th but would have to wait two holes for his first birdie of the round. After that, Pickering played expertly to avoid bogeys on his card and was rewarded with back-to-back birdies on 15 and 16, his sixth and seventh holes as he made the turn on three-under-par.

After the turn, the Pecanwood Golf Estate player made further gains, birdieing both the first and second holes of this parklands layout golf course – his 10th and 11th. Pickering found more joy as he made another birdie on the par-five sixth hole to sign for a blemish-free 66.

“I enjoyed my round a lot today,” said Pickering, who won last week on this same golf course while playing an IGT Challenge Tour event. “I made a few putts to save par here and there but other than that, I think I played well. I didn’t feel any pressure, really, I just putted myself around the course. I am not going to change my game plan for the second round, I’ll just play my normal game and see where it takes us.”

In a share of third and on five-under-par lies the trio of Luan Boshoff, Allister de Kock and Marthin Scheepers while Zebastien de Jager, Lwazi Gqirha, Jason Froneman, DK Kim and Order of Merit leader Bradley Diggeden share the sixth spot on four-under-par.

The Big Easy Tour was founded in 2011 with support from Ernie Els and counts current international star Christiaan Bezuidenhout among its former Order of Merit winners.