NIC Henning spearheaded a charge of veterans at the R16.9million Joburg Open yesterday as he stormed into the firstround lead by one stroke.
The Knysna-based golfer fired a nine-under-par 62 to match Desvonde Botes’s 2007 course record over the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington club’s West layout.
Henning, 45, did heavy damage on the first three holes, starting with two straight birdies before sinking his seven-iron approach from 169m for an eagle two on the third.
“It’s been a long time [since I played well],” Henning said, firing three more birdies on the outward nine before turning in 29.
“I told myself before I teed off, it’s me and the golf course. There’s nobody else around. I’ve been reading Bob Rotella’s book, Unstoppable Golfer. Maybe it’s helped me,” Henning said.
He won the SA amateur strokeplay title at the same course in 1991, but has failed to make the cut at this tournament the past few years.
Henning’s nearest rivals on eight under par – Titch Moore, 39, Tjaart van der Walt, 40, and Thomas Pieters of Belgium, barely out of his teens – also played on West, as did the trio on seven under. The best performers on the par-72 East course were Wallie Coetsee and Englishman Sam Hutsby, who carded 66.
The field will switch courses today before playing out the weekend on East.
Moore, who aced the parthree fifth on West yesterday, inspired his best buddy Coetsee on East.
Coetsee, 42, said moving from Tzaneen to Jeffreys Bay – at his wife’s insistence nearly three years back – had reinvigorated his game. He finished 26th on the 2014 order of merit, his best finish in more than a decade.
He said his distance had also improved since moving to the coast.