Daniel Hillier and Adrien Saddier share a one-stroke lead after posting nine under par rounds on the opening day of the Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt Golf Estate.
Photo credit: Sunshine Tour
New Zealander Hillier recorded a round of 64 on the par 73 Links course, while Frenchman Saddier joined him at the top of the leaderboard after a 63 over the par 72 Outeniqua course. Switzerland’s Robert Foley sits in third place on eight under par, while six players share fourth place on seven under par.
Hillier, who won his maiden Challenge Tour title at the Challenge Costa Brava in 2021, credited his patient approach for successfully taming the notoriously difficult Links course at Fancourt Golf Estate, the venue for the the first of seven co-sanctioned Sunshine Tour events in Africa to begin the Road to Mallorca season.
“It was just one of those days where everything seems to go your way,” he said. “I definitely got away with a couple in the middle and it was a nice little save on the last but apart from a couple of shots I played really well. I hit the ball probably as well as I have done for a while and I made a few good putts along the way.
“It was pretty benign this morning, especially for our front nine, so it was nice to take advantage of that and then, the course is not playing easy, you still have to hit good shots, but you get rewarded when you do. I kept plotting my way around the course, not taking any unnecessary risks and just kept plodding along and made a few more birdies than I thought I would.
“I think you just have to stay patient. There are plenty of chances out there, it’s pretty easy to try and force the issue but I just kept sticking to my process and putting as much intent as I could into every shot.”
“The goal is to win this week. I’ve got myself in a good position at the moment and hopefully I can keep going the way I am.”
Photo credit: Sunshine Tour
France’s Saddier, who graduated from the Challenge Tour in 2017, enjoyed the perfect comeback following a four-month break from the game, during which time he has become a father.
“I’m just happy to be back playing,” he said. “It was a long time away for me, I haven’t played since October. I’ve become a dad in that time so it was pretty nice. It was nice place to stop in my career to enjoy this time with my family. I feel fresh, I feel ready and I have a new supporter at home, so it’s pretty nice.
“Day after day, this format is special because we play a new course every day. Tomorrow is the Links, I love the track and I hope I will be ready.”
Jaco Ahlers, the 2018 champion and Fancourt ambassador, is one of the men in a share of fourth place following a seven under par opening round of 65 on the Outeniqua course. He’s joined by countrymen Bryce Easton, Estiaan Conradie and Jbe Kruger, Germany’s Alex Knappe and Dutchman Robbie van West.
Each player will tee it up on a different course on day two, with Hillier playing the Montagu at 10:39am local time and Saddier set to tackle the Links at 7:25am.