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Girrbach edges ahead in Limpopo

Girrbach edges ahead in Limpopo

Joel Girrbach will take a one-shot lead into day two of the SDC Open thanks to a red-hot back nine on the opening day at Elements Private Golf Reserve.

Joel Girrbach

The 28-year-old carded a bogey-free nine under par round of 63 to move one stroke clear of Frenchman Clément Sordet and South African Ruan de Smidt, who share second place after both carding eight under par rounds of 64 at Zebula Golf Estate & Spa.

Girrbach, who got a late call to gain a place in the tournament, experienced a slow start to day one but his round exploded into life on the back nine, firing six birdies in his final seven holes to climb to the top of the leaderboard.

“The start wasn’t the best to be honest,” he said. “I struggled a bit on the first few holes but after that I managed to find my game and I’m really pleased with my round. I only got into the tournament on Sunday afternoon and managed to get here by Tuesday afternoon so I didn’t have a lot of time to get prepared.

“My iron game felt really strong today. I was hunting the pins without being super aggressive and it worked out really well. I was left with a lot of short putts for birdie which was great, so I am really pleased with my long game.

“I really liked Elements Private Golf Reserve, I think it’s a great golf course and the wind made it quite difficult today. I think Zebula Golf Estate & Spa will pose a different challenge tomorrow, although you have a bit more room off the tee, you still have to hit them close and make the birdies.”

The 28-year-old from Switzerland secured his maiden European Challenge Tour title on home soil at the 2017 Swiss Challenge presented by ASG, and five years on he is looking to double his tally.

“It would be awesome to get my second win on the Challenge Tour, especially after a tough few years,” he said. “There are still three rounds to go and anything can happen so I will just try to continue playing like this.”

Englishman Marco Penge marked his return to the Challenge Tour with a seven under par round of 65 to sit in fourth place, while South Africans JJ Senekal, Ruan Conradie, Jake Redman, Deon Germishuys and Denmark’s Nicolai Kristensen share fifth place on six under par.

Road to Mallorca Number One JC Ritchie, who is targeting his third victory of the season and subsequently automatic promotion to the DP World Tour, shares tenth place with countrymen Daniel van Tonder, CJ du Plessis and Denmark’s Lasse Jensen on five under par.

Girrbach will tee it up at Zebula Golf Estate & Spa alongside German Dominic Foos and South African Hayden Griffiths at 7:10am local time.

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