Simon Dyson (Getty Images)
Simon Dyson birdied his last four holes to grab the clubhouse lead during the first round of the Tshwane Open at Copperleaf Golf & Country Estate before play was suspended for the day.
At 7,964 yards the Ernie Els-designed lay-out is the longest on The European Tour, but the 36 year old carded a bogey-free seven under par 65 to sit alongside home favourite Trevor Fisher Junior, who still had two holes left to play on Friday morning.
Dyson had birdies at the second and fifth on the way out and picked up another shot at the tenth, but it was at the 15th where the Englishman really hit his stride.
A birdie there was followed by another after a pitch to within a foot at the 16th, before a 15 foot putt at the 17th completed a hat-trick of gains.
And Dyson signed off in style by holing from 25 feet at the last to join Fisher Jnr on seven under, with England’s Ross Fisher and four more South Africans in Erik Van Rooyen, Jared Harvey, Darren Fichardt and Danie van Tonder on six under.
“It was really nice,” said Dyson, who captured the last of his six European Tour titles at the 2011 KLM Open.
“I had made three really good up and downs on the holes before that [the 15th]. I drove it in the bunker down 12 and then missed the green left and chipped it to about ten feet and rolled that one in for par.
“On the next I hit a good shot and it just released and rolled into the bunker and I upped and downed that, rolled in about an eight footer for par. I flew the green at 14 and then made a really good up and down.
“You just kick on after that and next I had the par five, where you always have a chance.
“Putting has been the let-down for the last few weeks, but me and my caddie had a chat about what I’m doing wrong. We spent about an hour and a half on the putting green yesterday and I managed to get a good feel for it.
“I holed a good six footer for par at the first and then about a 40 footer for birdie at the second and that was it, I was off and running.
“It’s a lovely start. It’s my lowest round in a good few years, especially on the first day. It just puts you in a nice frame of mind, a good stead, and sets it up nicely to have a good weekend.”
Earlier Fisher made an excellent start as he chases a first European Tour win for four years.
A four-time winner between 2007 and 2010, the former Ryder Cup star carded a six under par 66.
Having started on the back nine Fisher turned in a blemish-free 32 before carding a bogey at the first.
However, a run of four consecutive birdies from the fifth, including a 20 foot putt at the seventh, only to drop a second shot of the day at the last after failing to get up-and-down from just off the green.
“I got into a nice steady run with four birdies in a row on the front nine, which was my back nine,” said Fisher. “Unfortunately I dropped one at the last, but I can’t complain too much with six under.
“The course is pretty soft after all the rain we’ve had and it depends on what happens this afternoon, but if you drive it well then you’ll have a lot of looks at birdie.
“My game feels in good shape coming off the back of a good result in South Africa a couple of weeks ago. I don’t know what it is, I just enjoy playing down here and I seem to play quite well.”
South Africans have won ten of the last 13 European Tour events on home soil, so it was little surprise to see home favourites Fisher Jnr, van Rooyen, Fichardt, van Tonder and Harvey in contention.
The 25 year old Harvey posted a bogey-free card, and afterwards said: “It was a good start and everything fell into place today.
“I was very happy with my all-round game and it’s always nice to get off to a decent start and know that everything can flow. All-in-all I’m excited.”