Otto, Rowe breeze into the lead
Pair handle the strong Cape wind to shoot 66
ENNIE Otto and Lyle Rowe shared the first round lead on six-under-par 66 yesterday in the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open at Royal Cape.
“To shoot six-under in the first round is always good and I’ll take that score any day. The key for Cape Town, and for coastal golf, is to manage the wind effectively,” Otto said.
The three-time European Tour winner finished 21st in the DP World Tour Championship one week ago and continued to impress yesterday when he carded 33 on either side of the turn.
“We’re moving in the right direction and I’m playing well, so I’ll try to keep up the good work,” said Otto.
“The breeze came up a bit, but I played well and made some crucial putts out there.”
The 38-year-old was acutely aware that the winner of this week’s R1,5-million tournament also gets a spot at the upcoming Nedbank Golf Challenge. The extra incentive has drawn big names to the Mother City, but of the European Tour stars it was Otto who stood out on day one.
“This is the end of our year and we haven’t had a break yet. We’ve gone 14 weeks, but the opportunity to win the million dollar is very exciting. You always watch it on TV and now you’ve got an opportunity to play it. Everyone has a chance to get there,” he said.
Rowe, who like Otto played in the morning, rattled off five birdies in a row on the front stretch, which was his second nine, and set the target at six-under. The 27-year-old comes from Port Elizabeth and was able to negotiate the blustery conditions of the Western Cape in style.
He shot 69 during the first round in Cape Town last year, but
Hfell away over the next 54 holes. He’ll look to amend for those mistakes by continuing to score over the coming three days. “It’s very nice to get a decent round underway. It’s the first day of a big event and it helps ease things going forward into the rest of the tournament.”
Titch Moore, meanwhile, rode the afternoon winds en route to a share of second on 67 with Brandon Stone, Danie van Tonder, Michael Hollick, Omar Sandys, Adrian Ford and England’s Jeff Inglis.
“The greens are a little bit soft, but it’s the same for everybody. All-in-all the course is set up beautifully. This afternoon was tricky and the wind swirled a lot, but I’m from the coast, so I can’t really complain about the wind too much,” Moore said.
The Port Elizabeth local is accustomed to coastal wind and won the Sun Boardwalk Golf Challenge in blustery conditions earlier this year.
His history at Royal Cape is also notable and in 2000 he came painfully close to winning the Vodacom Players’ Championship at the oldest course in Africa.
“I’ve played nicely here in the past and I had the lead going into the final round of the Players Championship in 2000. I was three shots ahead of Trevor Immelman and six shots ahead of Ernie Els, those two were my nearest competitors. Trevor managed to win and I tied for second place with Ernie … that was 14 years ago,” he said.
Moore’s 67 came up just short of the frontrunners, but his two wins this season indicate just how ready he is to contend.
“I won the Telkom Business PGA Championship at the beginning of the year and to finish off the season by winning something as prestigious as this would be unbelievable,” he said.
EYEING UP ANOTHER BIRDIE: Hennie Otto shot 66 to be tied for the first round lead at the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open at Royal Cape Golf Club yesterday.