Chase Koepka is exactly what Branden Grace did as he reeled in US Open champion Brooks Koepka’s lesser-known brother in the opening round of the SA Open on Thursday.
Chase Koepka sizzled in overcast conditions in the morning. He dropped a shot on the opening hole but still managed to fashion a round of 65.
As things warmed up‚ Grace displayed the requisite amount of muscle and touch in compiling a round of 65, which included three eagles.
"I don’t know when last or if I’ve ever made three eagles in one round‚" Grace said about the advances he made on the second‚ eighth and 15th.
Grace said the only aggression he showed on the par 5s was on the second, when he had 244m into the flag.
"It was a three-wood into the flag and I knocked it to within 25 feet. Obviously I was a little rusty with some of the wedge shots and things like that.
"All in all I’m very pleased with the outcome. I pretty much got the most out of that round‚" said Grace‚ who admitted to walking 18 holes for the first time in seven weeks.
His round was not without blemish and suffered an unforeseen hiccup on the seventh.
"I took two little practice strokes as I walked up to the green and my ball rolled. I never saw it‚ Zack [Rasego‚ his caddie] saw it. We just wanted to get the rules official out.
"I know I was not the cause of the ball moving. It was a little negative that I had to play it from where it ended up."
The seventh proved problematic for a number of players, with half of the top 10 bogeying the par four.
As he approached the turn, 2016 champion Brandon Stone’s round took a turn for the worse. He missed the fairway to the right on the seventh and when he could not reach the green in two he suffered the added indignity of watching his chip to the elevated putting surface roll back towards him.
He had to settle for an underwhelming 75‚ as did defending champion Graeme Storm.
England’s Chris Paisley is a shot behind the leaders‚ while a group of four players are two shots back from the lead.
SA’s Richard Sterne and Erik van Rooyen carded four-under scores.