HENRIK Stenson got out of his bed at Sun City with the express aim of getting back into it yesterday.
Determined not to dwell on the Gary Player Country Club (GPCC), the Swede – who on Tuesday gave himself just a 5% chance of playing, due to flu – went under par at his earliest convenience in the opening round of the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
Remarkably, he returned a 66 and shares the lead with South Africa’s Jaco van Zyl.
Van Zyl was a model of consistency before his round came to light midway through the back nine. Three birdies between holes 14 and 17 catapulted him to the joint lead before he missed an eminently makable birdie putt, which would have handed him the outright lead on the 18th.
The pressure of leading the tournament was unlikely to present Van Zyl with a sleepless evening. His game plan today is remarkably simple. “Wake up and find the course,” he said when asked.
That simple theory is not to be sneezed at. Birdieing the first two holes proved the right tonic for Stenson in the soggy conditions that prevailed at midday yesterday.
The 2008 champion and habitual front runner continued to set about the GPCC birdieing the par-three seventh before finding the par-five island green of the ninth in two. He settled for a birdie to finish his outbound nine five under. His back nine was conducted at a more sedate pace.
Defending champion Englishman Danny Willett delivered a bogey-free round and passed on the opportunity to join the front runners when he missed for birdie on the last.
Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel never got going, carding a 70 and 71 respectively.