Johannesburg duo on even keel at Blair Atholl

Rupert Kaminski shot a 6-under 66 to be joint leader at the Blair Atholl Championship. Photo: Sunshine Tour
Rupert Kaminski shot a 6-under 66 to be joint leader at the Blair Atholl Championship. Photo: Sunshine Tour

JOHANNESBURG – Rupert Kaminski and Riekus Nortje both birdied the par-five 18thhole to roar into a share of the lead in the first round of the Blair Atholl Championship delivered by The Courier Guy on Thursday.

The Johannesburg-based pair were both off in Group 4 from the first tee and both shot six-under-par 66s to lead Heinrich Bruiners by one stroke in the R1.25 million event.

While Nortje is a relative veteran in his eighth season on the Sunshine Tour, the 25-year-old Kaminski only earned his card in 2019. And Kaminski actually birdied the par-three 17th as well, having overcome the frustration of a double-bogey five on the short eighth hole.

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The Parkview golfer three-putted from 15 feet after missing the green right and chipping too firmly. The short stick has been a problem for him lately, but on Thursday it was a rare mis-step on a day when he generally putted superbly.

“The putter was behaving really nicely and I made a lot of birdie putts. The challenge with the Blair Atholl course is that we don’t often play on a course this long,” Kaminski said. “So the par-fives are not necessarily the holes you’re going to score on, so my nine birdies were mostly because of my putter.

“I didn’t hit the ball that great, but I managed my game nicely and hit the ball in the right spots. Game-management is very important here because if you go for the flags and push too hard,’ you can find yourself in very awkward situations.

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“I’ve been playing really nice golf the last two/three months and a low score has been there, but I’ve struggled with my putter. So today will give me a lot of confidence, although the three-putt on eight was really annoying,” Kaminski said.

At 7527 metres long, the Gary Player designed Blair Atholl Golf and Equestrian Estate is a unique challenge when it comes to Highveld courses but Bruiners, the talented 34-year-old from Fancourt, also stamped his mark on the day with his bogey-free 67.

For spectacular finishes though, nothing could beat Kyle Barker.

Blair Atholl is unusual in that the front ‘nine’ is actually just eight holes and Barker, who started his round on the ninth, aced the 178m par-three with an eight-iron to catapult himself to four-under-par and a share of fourth place with Jared Harvey, Trevor Fisher Jnr, Chris Cannon, Hayden Griffiths and Anton Haig.

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