European Tour Member Scott Arnold opened with a round of 65 to grab a share of the lead with South African Justin Harding in the Dimension Data Pro-Am on the Sunshine Tour.
Arnold began the day with successive birdies and continued to prosper, notching two further gains before the turn and another at the 12th hole before carding an eagle at the 17th to set the clubhouse target on seven under par.
The Australian is clearly relishing the relaxed atmosphere of the Sunshine Tour event, with the professionals playing three rounds on The Links, Outeniqua and Montagu courses at Fancourt Golf and Country Estate in George, South Africa, followed by a fourth and final round on the Montagu.
Arnold, who played the Outeniqua course, said: “It was a great way to start. I played really solid and holed some putts, so I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and hope it’s good enough.
“It’s lovely here, exactly like Australia with the sun out, so it’s great to play here. I’m from Sydney in New South Wales, so the 30-40mph winds don’t really bother me because I’m used to them.”
Chasing the two young leaders were European Tour champions Hennie Otto of South Africa and England’s Simon Dyson, who both shot six under par rounds of 66, also on the Outeniqua course.
“Some big guys back there,” said Arnold. “But I’m not going to worry about what they do – I can’t control that. I’m just going to go out and play the best I can, at the end of the week if I win that’s great, but otherwise I’ll know that I’ve done my best I can.”
It was only two years ago that Otto lifted the Dimension Data Pro-Am trophy, and the two-time European Tour champion loomed large in the leaders’ wing mirrors.
He said: “It’s fun and serious this week – there is a balance. If you want to score in this tournament, it’s on Outeniqua and I’m glad I could go low today and get the tournament off to such a good start.”
Dyson, a winner of six European Tour titles, was understandably delighted with his opening effort.
“Everything went well today, and it’s absolutely beautiful here,” he said.
“It’s always a pleasure to come back and play in South Africa, so when I get a chance to come I take it.”