MENA Golf Tour regular Aaron Leitmannstetter fired a sizzling six-under par 66 to lie just one shot off the pace after the opening round of The Roar at Waterkloof Golf Club on Wednesday.
Starting from the 10th tee, the young German flew off the gate in style, picking up four shots in his first five holes. However, a double-bogey on the par-3, 15th prevented him from joining South Africa’s Riekus Nortje atop the leaderboard.
Nortje was bogey-free in his 65, while his compatriot Jason Viljoen occupied solo third on five-under, one clear of a four-man group that included Chile’s Antonio Costa, winner of the recent Mountain Creek Open in Thailand.
Despite the double bogey, Leitmannstetter was quite pleased with his efforts.
“Yeah, I’m very happy and I enjoyed it out there, I got off to a really good start, but unfortunately double-bogeyed the 15th which is not an easy par-three,” said the man who rolled in eight birdies, including three on the back nine.
“After that, I just tried to keep it going and it went off pretty well. I’m glad because I holed some really important putts down the stretch.
“The greens are rolling magnificently. It’s very important to hit the ball nicely into those greens and place it well to have a good putt. It worked out for me.
“I’m actually trying to keep it simple. I wanted to play well because it’s my last event here in this beautiful country.”
Nortje, who racked up a second and ninth in the previous two events, made the most of his recent form.
“I’ve been playing pretty solid and hitting the ball pretty well and it’s good to string together another bogey-free round,” he said.
A key part of Nortje’s success was finding greens in regulation, and it’s a game plan he wants to pursue over the next two days.
“It was actually quite funny because it’s the first time in about 10 years that I’ve played this golf course. It actually worked out quite well for me,” said Nortje. “I hit the ball in the right areas, I only missed two greens — both of them just off the green — so it was pretty good all-round.”
South Africa’s Bryandrew Roelofsz, who won the South to East Challenge two weeks back, returned a three-under 69 to share eighth along with Siphiwe Siphayi and the English duo of Joe Heraty and Jeff Inglis as Lee Corfield, a four-time winner on the MENA Golf Tour, settled for a level-par 72.
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