After 24 years in the pro golf game, Brett Liddle knows that sometimes it’s function over form. The 44-year-old Boksburg native has been playing so poorly this year, though, that he was desperate to try anything to solve his problems on the course.
Then the five-time Sunshine Tour winner discovered a little gadget called the Swingclick and the result was a six-under-par 66 in Monday’s first round and the lead in the IGT Tour’s Race to Asian Q-School at ERPM Golf Club.
The Boksburg native beat a shaky start with a pair of birdies and toured a flawless back nine to seal a one stroke lead over Tokkie van den Berg.
Former Africa Open champion Shaun Norris finished two shots back in the pack on four under with Byron Garvie, John McClean from Northern Ireland, amateur Jacques de Villiers and Portugal’s Antonio Rosado, a three-time winner this season.
“Jeez, I think the last time I was interviewed, I still had hair,” Liddle quipped after the round.
“I had a bit of a wobble at the start, because the pressure was on to perform at my home course and I don’t play that often anymore. I hit a terrible second shot at the first and missed a two-footer for par and a bad drive at the third that ended in bogey.
“But I was able to come back with birdies at two and four and I settled into my routine by the fifth hole. After that it was pure pleasure.”
The former Sunshine Tour pro was thrilled at his turn of good fortune.
“You know, I’ve never used a gadget once in my career, but it’s true what they say, you’ll do anything when you’re desperate,” the veteran admitted.
“My biggest problem with my swing is that my return is too quick under tournament pressure.
“I heard that Clinton Whitelaw was marketing the Clickswing in the USA and Andre van Staden is selling it in New Zealand, so I though I might as well give it a try.
“It’s made a world of difference to my swing and I’ve even started using it with players that I coach.”
Liddle birdied the 10th and 11th to go two under and a driver, eight-iron and three-foot eagle putt combination at the 13th took him at four under.
Another pair of birdies at the 16th and 17th and par at the 18th left him in pole position.
“My iron shots were off the charts and that’s what you need on a tight layout like the ERPM course,” he said. “I’ve been a member here since I was 11 and this was one of my better rounds at this track.
“All my birdie putts were inside six feet and that’s a direct result of a better controlled swing. You strap this Clickswing to your arm when you practice and it makes this clicking sound when your arm is the correct position at the top of your backswing.
“It basically trains your brain to wait for the click and that forces you to slow down your swing. The result is that you come back down on the right path into the slot. You generate more club head speed that way and your ball goes further and straighter.
“I’m absolutely stoked about this round because I see some light at the end of a long tunnel. I’m definitely on the right track with this device.”
FIRST ROUND SCORES
66 - Brett Liddle
67 - Tertius van den Berg
68 - Shaun Norris, Antonio Rosado POR, Byron Garvie, John McClean NIR, Jacques De Villiers (AMA)
69 - Johannes Frahs AUT (AMA), Wynand Dingle
70 - Francois Coetzee, Niel Meyer (AMA), Rae Mackie
71 - Tyron Mc Comb, Dayne Moore ZAM, Ockert Strydom, CJ du Plessis, MJ Viljoen, Leon Scheepers (AMA), Shaun van Tonder
72 - Michael Schutz (AMA), Glen de Waal NAM, Stephan Erasmus (AMA), Toto Thimba Jnr, Rosswell Sinclair (AMA), Bryn Flanagan (AMA), Russel Franz, Carlo O’Reilly (AMA), Jacques Kruyswijk, Jerry Steyn, Bryandrew Roelofsz, Simon Kruger (AMA)
73 - Michael Van Hoeck (AMA), Brendan Blake (AMA), Daniel Joubert (AMA), Duane Keun, Gareth Akers (AMA), Matt Westner
74 - James Searson, Alwyn Vorster
75 - JP Schmidt (AMA), Shaun Smith, Nico Du Buisson (AMA), Ruan Huysamen, Dyllan Lavagna-Slater (AMA)
76 - Zabastian De Jager (AMA), Jandre Fullard (AMA), Desne van den Bergh, Jacquin Hess, Thabang Simon, Christiaan Pretorius
77 - Pieter Van der Linde (AMA), Pierre Viviers
78 - David Lamprecht
79 - Robert Herselman FRA, Rhoan Gardiner, Werner Lourens (AMA)
80 - Christopher Hardy (AMA), Murray Smit, Jacqui Akers (AMA)
81 - Creag Donaldson (AMA), Michael Jooste (AMA)
82 - Amerigo Renieri (AMA), Loic Csizmadia MUS (AMA), Arno Bartholoma GER (AMA)
83 - Jeremy D’Argent MUS (AMA)
84 - Gustav Gouws (AMA)
85 - Dwayne Coetzee
86 - Werner van der Walt
88 - Russell Jaques ENG (AMA), Jonathan Botha
89 - Gustav Erasmus
92 - Steven Nel (AMA)