PORT ELIZABETH, South Africa — Scotland’s Ewen Ferguson put on a master class from tee to green to blaze his way into the first round lead in the South African Stroke Play Championship at Port Elizabeth Golf Club on Tuesday.
The 18-year-old Glaswegian took advantage of the near-perfect conditions to conjure up a flawless seven-under-par 65 to finish atop a logjam leaderboard with a distinctly international flavour.
Ferguson leads by one from Ugo Coussaud of France and edged two strokes clear of 16-year-old Modderfontein junior Eric Wowor, who chipped in for a pair of eagles on his way to a share of third with Frenchman Jeremy Gandon on 67.
Ian Snyman and Gavin Moynihan renewed their rivalry just two days after the Western Province golfer defeated the Irishman in a four-hole play-off for the Eastern Province / Border Stroke Play Championship title. The pair tied at four under 68 with Sieg Human from Uitenhage, Central Gauteng’s Rupert Kaminski, Johan Germishuys from the Western Province and Irishman Cormac Sharvin.
Meanwhile local hero Fezekila Kana birdied the 18th for a seat in the eight-man bus at three under.
Ferguson, who led the Great Britain and Ireland Boys team to victory in the Jacques Leglise Trophy last year, signalled his intentions with a sixth place finish in the Gauteng North Stroke Play at the end of January.
However, the 2014 Scottish Boys Match Play and Stroke Play champion was a little uncertain what to expect in Port Elizabeth after relentless rain pounded the course on Monday.
“It rained so much during our practice round on Monday that some us almost got home sick,” the Bearsden golfer joked.
“I had to play the full 18 holes, though, because I haven’t played this course before. It was great go out there in sunlight, though.
“Without the wind, the course is pretty defenceless. It’s hard to describe, but for the course has this Parklands feel with a links flavour. It’s a real classic.”
The Scotsman got off to a birdie-birdie start, collect another pair of birdies at the eighth and ninth and reeled in another brace of birdies at the 13th and 14th holes.
The 2013 British Boys Championship winner notched his seventh birdie when he drained a 30-foot putt at the par-four 17th.
“I boxed a few short ones, and holed some long ones on the second, ninth, 13th and 17th, so the putter was working well overall,” Ferguson said. “It can always be better, but all in, I’m pleased to be in a strong position early on.”