Jaco van Zyl (Getty Images)
Jaco Van Zyl claimed the clubhouse lead on a blustery opening day at East London Golf Club, but his advantage could be threatened by Brazil’s Adilson Da Silva when the first round resumes on Friday morning.
South African Van Zyl carded a six under par 66 on a day when the winds reached such speeds that play had to be suspended for almost three hours as balls started moving on the greens: particularly at the exposed third hole.
Van Zyl was tied with John Parry on four under when European Tour Chief Referee John Paramor called the players in, but on resumption drove the green at fifth and sixth – both par fours – for a couple of two-putt birdies.
The South African has had 12 top-ten finishes on The European Tour but is yet to win, and had three birdies, a bogey and an eagle at the long 15th before the suspension.
Playing in the afternoon session, 41 year old Da Silva – a regular on the co-sanctioning Sunshine Tour - reeled off five birdies in his first six holes, and remained five under through the eight holes he was able to complete before dark.
“You know, all I could think about over those last three holes was how much I wanted to get off the golf course,” Van Zyl said.
“The wind was really, really brutal out there, especially over the front nine. It was a struggle to stand and keep your balance over your putts, so the suspension was a good call.
“I’m hitting it a lot better this week and it’s nice that I’ve carried my short game to Buffalo City.
“I definitely feel that if I play a couple of good rounds, I can make a go of it on Sunday.”
England’s Parry won during his rookie campaign in 2010, but lost his card a year later before romping to victory at Qualifying School to ensure a return to The European Tour.
He had five birdies and a bogey in his first 11 holes to join Van Zyl, but went in the wrong direction after the break with bogeys at the second and fourth dropping him to two under with four to play.
However, he responded with birdies at the fifth and seventh to return to four under, and as a result took second in the clubhouse.