Muller's experience shows
Grant Muller carded 69 and claimed a share of the first-round lead at the Suncoast Classic at the Durban Country Club on Thursday.
“Knowledge did play a factor — just a little bit of experience stops you from making silly mistakes, which saves you shots. Whenever you try to sneak the ball a little bit further this course will bite you,” he said.
Muller kept his head down in winds that reached 60km/h, joining Ruan de Smidt on top of the leaderboard, which bore only three red numbers before play was delayed at 6.25pm due to bad light.
“When the sea starts looking like snow you know it’s blowing hard. There’s a four-club wind today, so it’s a matter of staying patient. And it pays to miss it in the right place here — I think this course plays to my strengths, because I hit it pretty straight.” Muller has three top-10s this year, and most recently finished tied fifth at the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final in September.
He’s been working on his game since then, and on Thursday it showed. He shot up the leaderboard after carding birdies from the 13th to the 15th. A birdie at the last would secure his share of the lead.
“I plodded along on the front and came in with a couple of nice shots on the back. During that run on the second nine I made some good putts after keeping the ball in play.
“I’m not totally happy with my swing yet, but it’s getting there. And I’m dropping my hands much lower on the putter, which has helped me sink those three-, four-footers. You have to sink those if you want to succeed.”
De Smidt, who celebrated his 23rd birthday on Thursday, was pleased with his opening 69, and said: “I can’t ask for more. It was really lekker out there. It was tough, the wind blew and we had a little bit of rain. So I’m very happy with three-under on my birthday.” Wallie Coetzee made his way round in 71 to claim third place.
He turned at one-over after a shaky start, but soon got going on the back stretch. He kept bogeys off the card during his second loop, pencilling in birdies at 14 and 18 on his way to one-under-par.
Sharing fourth on level-par were Ian Hutchings and Jacques Blaauw.