SA’s Reto shines in Riyadh


In Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, South Africa’s Paula Reto excelled on the first day of the Aramco Saudi Open tournament.

Reto recorded a score of 67 strokes (-5) in Thursday’s first round, which placed her in second position, a single stroke behind Patty Tavatanakit of Thailand (66).

The SA golf star recorded six birdies and a bogey on her scorecard in the Aramco tournament, which boasts a prize pool of $5 million (about R95 million) and is the richest tournament on the European women’s series.

South Africa’s leading women’s player, Ashleigh Buhai, is also in action in Riyadh, but had a disappointing start.

The one-time Major champion is seven shots behind the leader at 73 (+1) and will have to play better if she is to taste any success. The other two SA players in the field, Casandra Alexander (76) and Nicole Garcia (77), both delivered disappointing performances.

Tiger ‘volatile’

Tiger Woods says he was nervous, but still enjoyed himself even though his game was erratic and not as sharp as he would have liked. He addressed the media after the first round of the Genesis Invitational Tournament at the Riviera Golf Club in Los Angeles.

The 15-time Major champion completed a score of 72 shots (+1) on his scorecard and is eight shots behind the leader, Patrick Cantlay, who set the course on fire with a 64 (-7) to take the to take the lead.

Woods’ appearance on Thursday in the elite Genesis tournament is the American’s first participation in an official PGA tournament in a year.

He did play in the Hero Challenge tournament in December in the Bahamas and two weeks later also in the PNC tournament with his son Charlie, but these are not official PGA tournaments that count towards the merit list.

Woods made his return to the course in the company of Gary Woodland and Justin Thomas. Woodland, who had a successful brain operation last year, played 70 shots (-1), while Thomas, like Woods, had to be satisfied with a score of 72.

“I was nervous because I care how I play even though my best days are over,” Woods said.

“My game was erratic. I hit quite a few good shots, but also just as many bad shots.

“The shin hit on the 18th is inexplicable, but a clear proof that I’m not sharp.”

Woods scored five birdies on the first day, but six bogeys canceled out all of his good shots.

“I had a back spasm towards the end which hindered me, but otherwise it was a pleasant day in the company of two good friends.

“Hopefully I can play better tomorrow (Friday) and improve even further this weekend.

“In the Bahamas I felt more comfortable every day and played better. It takes a little time to get rid of all the rust,” Woods said afterwards.

Leader Cantlay is chased at -6 by the trio of Jason Day, Cameron Davis and Luke List, with Tom Hoge, Jordan Spieth and Will Zalatoris at -5 the next players at the top of the leaderboard.

The world’s no. 1 player, Scottie Scheffler, kicked off solidly with a 68 (-3), but the game’s second best, Rory McIlroy, kicked the clay.

The Northern Irishman was on course at -2 before a double bogey at the 15th and three missed shots at the 16th left him seething. He ended up playing 74 shots (+3) and covering the rear guards.

The South African Christiaan Bezuidenhout’s good level of play continues and he shares -2 the 15th place after the first day.

Little birds fly on Fancourt

On local soil in the Dimension Data Pro-Am on Fancourt, Bryce Easton swung his new broom stick iron around like a magic wand and scored no less than ten birdies en route to a score of 63 (-9).

Easton was two shots ahead after the first day of the George tournament after taking advantage of the weather conditions.

The morning field in the first round had cloudy conditions with little wind. However, the afternoon players played clay in adverse conditions which involved a strong wind and rain showers.

Easton put a new long iron in his golf bag this week after having problems on the short grass for months.

“”I have been playing some of the best golf of my life lately, but not having good results at all.

“I struggled to get the ball into the can and after much consideration I decided to use a long broomstick set iron this week. It was nice to roll in a few putts and string in the birdies,” Easton said afterwards.

The leader is being chased by the Frenchman Benjamin Herbert (65), who had a flawless day with five birdies and an eagle on the Outeniqua course.

Five players, including Daniel van Tonder, share third position at -6, with a group of seven players, which includes Trevor Fisher jr., Hennie du Plessis, Brandon Stone and Oliver Bekker, at -5 in joint eighth place .

The respected Pretoriaran Zander Lombard, who is experiencing a boiling water season, had a satisfactory start with a score of 70. So did the multiple Sonskyn Series tournament winner Hennie Otto, who together with Lombard counts at -2 under the top-40 after they the more difficult Montagu course was in action.

Fisher Jr. (67) was the top player on the Montagu course, with Benjamin Follett-Smith’s 69 (-3) being the best performance on the Links course.

The 156 participating professionals first play all three of Fancourt’s courses before the field is reduced for Sunday’s final round.