During the Sunshine Big Easy Tour Observatory tournament on Tuesday, Jeff Inglis shot 62 and broke the Observatory Golf Club course record, a record set by Danie van Tonder and Ryan Cairns earlier in the day.
Inglis roared through the par-37 front stretch in 31 on his way to 10-under, which secured a one-stroke lead for him heading into the final 18 of the R100,000 tournament presented by Stonehage.
“I feel great,” he said. “The last two seasons have been a nightmare with the putter. After a 62 you’ve got to feel strong, so the confidence is up.”
And the putter was hot for Inglis, who adopted his belly putter just a week ago. “It has been a bit of a thing changing to the belly-putter - I only changed to it last week. I have been speaking about making the switch for a long time and now the big thing is just to trust it and stick with it,” he said.
His knowledge of the conditions and how to play them paid off, and he added: “You can fly very attacking lines this year, which is different from previous years. Even though the greens are slow, they are rolling slowly, so you can hit anything into them and it will stick. It’s not a bad option to give the greens a go the whole time,” he said.
The 33-year-old made seven birdies on the front stretch, ignoring a drop at the third as he ploughed his way to six-under through nine. “It started right away with a birdie at the first hole. Good drive at the second and I made the putt. I got onto a good run from the fifth hole onwards and birdied all the way home – five in a row. I’m happy with that,” he said.
His back stretch told a slightly different story - he made eagles at the 14th and 16th before closing out his second loop in a further 31. “The back nine started a little slowly after I left a couple in the throat at 10 and 11. When it started happening I really got going. At the par-five 14th I hit driver, then carved a seven-iron round a tree to 12-foot and made the putt for eagle. I drove it pin-high left on the par-four 16th and chipped it in for my second eagle. After that I drove it into the trees on 17 and made bogey, but other than that I can’t complain,” he said.
Zimbabwean Ryan Cairns started at the 10th and raced around his first nine in 28 blows. He chipped in for eagle at the 16th before eventually signing for 63. “Everything was happening today, and it has been a long time coming. For the first time in a long time my game was there and it felt really good when those putts started to drop. Overall I’m very happy with my game and with my round. It’s great to be back on track and it’s quite a relief to finally shoot a low one again,” he said.
Rookie Danie van Tonder made his way through the front stretch in a superb 30 strokes. He joins Cairns at nine-under, one shot off the pace ahead of the final 18 on Wednesday. “It clicked right from the start. I was hitting it well, putting well – my game is back on. I think I only missed one fairway the whole day,” said van Tonder.