Quartet share lead at windy Prince’s Grant

Mistakes were made, but amongst the leading quartet of Marco Steyn, Darin de Smidt, Gregory McKay and Dean Martin there was relief that they weren’t too costly on day one of the Oxigen Prince’s Grant National Amateur Invitational on Monday.

The four golfers came through a typically windy day on the North Coast tied for the lead with rounds of level-par 72 and one clear of the field.

While Steyn, De Smidt and McKay had the benefit of early tee-off times that saw them escape most of the wind, Martin had to play his way into the lead in the tougher afternoon conditions.

KwaZulu-Natal golfer McKay may feel he missed an opportunity against his three Central Gauteng co-leaders in terms of having the local knowledge to have led the first round.

And that could easily have been the case as McKay, who teed off the tenth, was two under par with two holes to play before making bogey on both.

It was a tough finish for the golfer who won last year’s North Coast Championship on this course and who knows how important patience is around here.

“Overall I think I did well not to make any big numbers out there. When I missed I missed in all the right spots,” he said.

“This is a course that I enjoy. I’ve always liked the way it sets up for me. You have to stay patient here. There are some holes here that when the wind is blowing like it did today then you play them a shot over their par. If you can be patient here you’ll come out on top.”

Steyn, the highest ranked player in the field at six in the country, had his patience tested when he made double-bogey on the tough par-four 13th. He was one under par at the time and managed to get back there with birdies at 14 and 15, only to bogey the 16th.

“To come back with those two birdies to finish level par for the round – I’m very pleased with that,” he said.

“I kept the ball in play for most of the round. I only hit the ball in the bush once, which was on 13. But otherwise I gave myself chances. It was just a solid level-par round.”

And De Smidt, brother of Sunshine Tour professional Ruan de Smidt, could have led on his own as well. He was one under playing the 18th before a bogey there dropped him into a share of the lead.

“I said before the round that a 72 in the wind would be good, so I’m happy. This is an amazing course and a very difficult challenge in the wind. You have to think your way around this course. I kept it in play and that helped me a lot.”

The Free State’s Richard Maree, Gauteng North’s Dylan Kok and David Nortje, Ekurhuleni’s Jayden Schaper, Mpumalanga’s Andre van Heerden, and Central Gauteng’s Andrew Carlsson are their nearest challengers.

Written and distributed by Michael Vlismas

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