Curro Aurora picked up where they left off last year and set the first-round pace in the eighth South African High School Championship on Thursday.
South African Golf Development Board trio Carl Mwale, Cole Stevens and Kieron van Wyk – all members of last year’s victorious team – combined for an opening five-under-par 211 at Devonvale Golf and Wine Estate to move Curro Aurora into the top spot.
Mwale anchored the team with a three-under 69. His effort was well supported by Stevens and Van Wyk, who contributed respective rounds of 70 and 72. The fourth member of the team, Cara Ford, returned a non-counting 79.
Last year, Curro Aurora held off a strong challenge from Glenwood House to win by one shot at Randpark Golf Club and the defending champions are bound to come under pressure again in Friday’s final round, with at least three teams in close pursuit.
Christiaan Maas matched Mwale’s 69, Francois van der Walt carded 70 and Dean Sanders registered a round of 73 to take Die Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool Pretoria into second on 212.
The Golf School of Excellence finished in third on 215, courtesy of a 70 from Brendan Porter, even-par 72 from Titouan Berny and a 73 from Benji Stein.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s leading amateur Wilco Nienaber guided Grey College Secondary to fourth on 217 alongside Neil Delport and Christiaan Heyman, who posted respective rounds of 74 and 79.
Nienaber, who claimed the individual title last year by eight strokes, threw down the gauntlet with a blistering start and finish.
He was four under through the first three holes after a birdie-eagle-birdie start and signed off with an eagle at the 17th and birdie at the 18th.
An opening eight-under 64 will see the matriculant start the final round with a four-shot lead over Maas and Mwale.
(Best three scores of four to count)
211 – Curro Aurora Carl Mwale 69 Cole Stevens 70 Kieron van Wyk 72
212 – Die Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool Pretoria Christiaan Maas 69 Francois van der Walt 70 Dean Sanders 73
215 – The Golf School of Excellence Brendan Porter 70 Titouan Berny 72 Benji Stein 73
217 – Grey College Secondary Wilco Nienaber 64 Neil Delport 74 Christiaan Heyman 79
219 – Paarl Boys High Daniel Cronje 71 Tyran Snyders 74 Francois Cilliers 74
220 – Glenwood House Independent School Jean Pierre van der Watt 71 Damian Osner 72 Liam Ross 77
221 – Rundle College Nicola Gerhardsen 70 Mike Saxer 74 Calvin Maia 77
225 – Grey High School Kyle Ward 70 Robert Shearer 77 Reece Coleman 78
225 – De Villiers Graaf High School Angelo Keffers 74 Jurie Johannes Mostert 75 Aidon Willemse 76
230 – Woodlands International College Grant Ferreira 74 Liam van Deventer 74 Dylan Miller 82
230 – St. Stithians Boys Shaunak Rama 74 Connor Williamson 76 Daniel Fraser 80
231 – Daniel Pienaar Technical High School Tiaan van der Bank 74 Percy Adolph 77 Curtley Stofberg 80
234 – Clifton College Cade Cryer 77 Matthew Kruger 78 Andrew Inggs 79
235 – Fairmont High School Ian Botha 72 Travis Procter 79 Joshua Wiese 84
237 – HTS Middelburg Reghard Viljoen 72 Behn Heyns 80 Heinrich Venter 85
242 – Tuks Sport High School Sihle Zakwe 77 Tshimollo Mapefane 80 Kaamil Bahm 85
245 – Rondebosch Boys High Jonathan Streicher 79 Kieran Urquhart 83 Gabriel Max Gad 83
246 – Klerksdorp Hoërskool Andre van Dyk 76 Jaco Anderson 83 Brendan Snyman 87
247 – Middelburg Hoërskool Darren Neyt 75 Evert Buurman 83 Zane Nel 89
248 – Hoërskool Lichtenburg Christiaan Maritz 79 Lou van Rensburg 84 Ruben Kotze 85
254 – Marais Viljoen High Gustav de Lange 83 Jordan Hart 85 Brohnan Borrajeiro 86
Individual Results – Round 1 (Top 20)
64 – Wilco Nienaber
69 – Christiaan Maas; Carl Mwale
70 – Kyle Ward; Francois van der Walt; Nicola Gerhardsen; Brendan Porter; Cole Stevens
71 – Daniel Cronje; Jean Pierre van der Watt
72 – Titouan Berny; Ian Botha; Reghard Viljoen; Kieron van Wyk; Damian Osner
73 – Dean Sanders; Benji Stein
74 – Grant Ferreira; Tyran Snyders; Neil Delport; Angelo Keffers; Saul Moss; Shaunak Rama; Mike Saxer; Tiaan van der Bank; Liam van Deventer; Francois Cilliers
Photo: Defending champions Curro Aurora, by GolfRSSA