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Tshwane Open: Day 1

TOBY ROUNDING OFF SA STINT SOLIDLY IN TSHWANE

England’s Toby Tree threw his hat in the ring in last year’s Tshwane Open with a third round of five-under-par 65. This year, he announced his presence after an opening round of five-under-par 66, with the Pretoria Country Club’s par being upped to 71 from last year’s 70. Sourse : Sunshine Tour

Tree has been something of a regular fixture on the Sunshine Tour since 2015, and he’s racked up four top-10 spots since his share of seventh in 2015’s Vodacom Origins of Golf Final. With three this season, he’s looking for a finish with a flourish to another stint on the Sunshine Tour.

His first Tshwane Open round for 2017 started with a bogey on two, but six birdies liberally sprinkled over the rest of his scorecard soon rectified that, and put him on course for improving on his 2016 finish of tied 14th.

“I’m very pleased,” he said. “My first round score has been pretty average the last few weeks, so it’s nice to actually fire a low round to start the week off.

“Last year, I played well here. I had a bit of a crappy last round, to be honest. But I think I finished 14th, which is the best position on a European Tour event for me, so it’s nice coming back here. I’ve got friends who are members here, as well, so it’s a familiar course and I really enjoy playing here.”

And although he has played Pretoria Country Club often enough to have it largely figured out, he still regards the course for the tournament this week with a healthy respect. “The course is tough,” he said. “It’s like a bit of a jigsaw puzzle course, really. It’s not the longest, it’s got small greens, quite old fashioned and really pretty. The rough’s good. You have to concentrate off the tee. There’s a lot of emphasis on hitting the fairways. I’ve been pretty aggressive off the tee to try and get it as far up as I can. But it’s playing great.”

With the 2016-17 Sunshine Tour season drawing to a close, Tree is looking for one last push to improve his current position of 32nd on the Order of Merit. “It’s my last tournament in South Africa on this stint,” he said. “I’ve played the last three weeks. I’ve played well, to be fair, with only one round over par, so it would be nice to finish this week on a high, really. And then I’ve got a little holiday in Cape Town.”

A podium finish in Tshwane would make that Cape Town holiday especially sweet

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