EUROPEANS colonised the top of the leader board in the Africa Open for most of the first round yesterday, until Modderfontein’s Neil Schietekat caused a late flutter.
Schietekat birdied his third last hole to go to four-under, but failed to climb all the way to the top where Irishman Kevin Phelan and England’s Matt Ford share the lead after their fiveunder 67s.
A gusty southwesterly wind at the East London Golf Club demanded calculation and precision, but Schietekat was among a select group to negotiate the peril.
Thanks in part to an early tee off, when the ball was less prone to getting carried away, Phelan held the clubhouse advantage for much of the day.
For the most part, he stayed on the straight and narrow.
The man from Waterford did not just get the rub of the green, but all too often he found the middle of it.
“I hit some good shots, so they ended up being easy birdies,” Phelan said.
Englishman Richard Bland too held a score of five-under, but looks can be deceiving.
“They have my score wrong,” the Englishman said with a rueful smile. “They have me as fiveunder. “It’s actually four-under. I think I’m up for a birdie at 13 but I got par,” he said of the gaffe.
Englishman John Parry and Spaniard Eduardo de la Riva also shot opening round 68s.
-Liam Del Carme