Is the 15th time the charm for Jaco Van Zyl?
The South African who has played the BMW SA Open 15 times without a victory, despite winning 13 other times on the Sunshine Tour, took a 1-shot lead at the tournament in Ekurhuleni on Thursday as the European Tour kicked off its 2016 calendar year.
Van Zyl shot a 7-under 65 to post the best round of the day. He started on the back nine and was strong from the get-go with four birdies in his first seven holes to hit the turn at 4-under.
He dropped to 7-under after 11 holes thanks to an eagle 3 on the par-5, 557-yard No. 2, and remained there the rest of the way.
“It’s a very special week for South Africans, so we’re all going to try our best and stay in the mix,” Van Zyl said. “If I can get my first European Tour win here, it would just be so much sweeter.”
South Africans populate the top four spots on the leaderboard, with Van Zyl up one stroke over Shaun Morris, who fired a 6-under 66. Morris was up and down throughout the round, with six birdies, two bogeys, and an eagle to his card.
Keith Horne and Jbe Kruger are tied for third at 67, followed by a swell of six players at 4-under including Retief Goosen. The two-time US Open winner won here in 1995.
The first round did not end Thursday for 18 players who had to leave the course due to lightning. They will conclude their first rounds Friday morning.