David Ravetto and Kristian Krogh Johannessen shared the lead at five under par after day one of the SDC Championship 2023 in South Africa.
The pair shot opening 67s in testing conditions at a windswept St. Francis Links to lead by a single stroke from Connor Syme.
Starting from the tenth with a birdie, Ravetto gained another stroke at the 13th and continued his good work after the turn.
Back-to-back birdies at the second and third got the Frenchman to four under and though another at the sixth was given straight back, he finished with a three at the ninth to set the clubhouse target.
He said: “It was a really nice morning - the wake-up call was pretty hard but I played really solid golf in windy conditions and I’m really happy with my game.
“It’s a really nice track, it needs the wind because without the wind in nice conditions it will be… I won’t say easy but a bit easier.
“But with the wind it’s really nice to play, it’s really fun, some nice tee-shots to hit, nice second shots – a really nice track.
“I think my putting was really solid. The past few weeks it was not that good so I’m really happy with my putting this morning."
Norwegian Johannessen carded a fine bogey-free round having also started from the tenth tee.
He made most of his headway on the back nine with birdies at the 13th, 15th, 16th and 18th. Another at the fifth earned him a share of the lead.
Johannessen said: “I got off to a quick start and that’s very important – especially when I started on the back nine, it’s a bit more scoreable in my mind and the wind wasn’t up that much.
“There was scheduled to be a lot, it didn’t get here before I was on my number ten or 11 then it really started to blow a lot.
“You need to just be patient and keep your ball in play, and that what I tried to do today – just hit the ball where I could see it and go from there.
“In any golf round it’s a plus to not make bogeys and especially round here today in these conditions, I’m very pleased.”
Scotsman Syme made an eventful start with three birdies and a bogey from the tenth to the 13th, turning in two under after another dropped shot at the 15th was recovered at the short 17th.
He birdied the first and third and immediately recovered the shot he dropped at the next to sign for a 68.
The group at three under included Julien Brun, Sean Cronje, Nick Bachem, Martin Simonsen and Joost Luiten, the Dutchman producing a stunning albatross at the par-five 13th in a round that also included a triple-bogey seven at the eighth.
Kalle Samooja joined the group at two under with a superb long eagle putt at the 13th. The Finn had been two over at the turn but responded with birdies at the tenth and 12th.