Charl Schwartzel (Getty Images)
Charl Schwartzel made a promising start to the 2014 Race to Dubai on the opening day of the South African Open Championship presented by the City of Ekurhuleni.
Looking to win his National Open for the first time, Schwartzel produced a superb finish to his first round to post a five under par 67, one behind clubhouse leader Christiaan Basson.
Having started on the back nine, Schwartzel was only two under with four to play, but struck a fine tee shot to five feet at the sixth to set up a birdie.
In stark contrast his tee shot at the par five seventh required a drop, but a brilliant chip from off the green to a foot saved par and the World Number 22 holed putts of 12 and 15 feet on his last two holes for consecutive birdies.
“It means a lot, I’d love to win the South African Open,” said Schwartzel following his bogey-free round at Glendower GC.
“I did my preparation and figured out the way I want to play the golf course and it worked today.
“I’ve always had really good results in the South African Open, come close a few times. I reckon it’s one of those where you have to keep at it and keep playing and it will come eventually.”
A two-time winner on the co-sanctioning Sunshine Tour, Basson had four birdies and an eagle in his round of 66 as he looks to become the 11th home winner in the last 13 stagings of this event.
Another South African, Warren Abery, overcame a double bogey six at the fourth to join English pair Simon Dyson and Steve Surry in third on four under.
Two-time US Open Champion Retief Goosen and former Ryder Cup star Ross Fisher were amongst those hoping to make an impact in the afternoon session.