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Simon plans ahead following Vusi Ngubeni triumph

Thabang Simon couldn’t hide his happiness following his hard-fought victory in last week’s Altron Vusi Ngubeni Tournament which guaranteed him and 12 others playing privileges in the upcoming season of the Sunshine Tour. The Soweto Country Club player had it all to do in the final round as Thanda Mavundla, Thabiso Ngcobo and Slenda Sithebe, among others, were piling the pressure. In the end, however, his final-round 69 took his tournament total to 17-under and handed him a one-stroke win over Mavundla. “It was very tough, I’m telling you,” said Simon. “The guys wanted to win it too but I stayed focused and reminded myself that I know what’s my number. I told myself that I needed to get it to 18-under and I’ll be okay, but 17-under is still fine with me. But I am so happy to finally get it done. It’s been a long time since I won at ERPM. “This is a very important week for most of us here and it was always going to be tough. But, I always play the golf course rather than playing a man. It was important to keep fighting and playing good shots because that gave me opportunities and I was able to take advantage of some.” At 49, Simon is no youngster and is fully aware of this. He admits that he still has enough in him to compete at the highest level but knows he will have to start thinking about the senior’s circuit at some point soon. “This win means a lot to me because I’m close to being a senior now; I’m one minute close,” he says with loud laughter. “Now, here comes the Vusi Ngubeni title, just before these youngsters start thinking I’m done. My goal is to keep my Sunshine Tour card this season and see if I can’t compete for a couple of years but after that, I will definitely think about going into the seniors. I’ll be 50 next year, so I might as well start thinking about that path. “I had a look at the entry list before we came here and some of these guys are really young. But, what impressed me the most is just the strength of this year’s Vusi field. I told my friend it was going to be a tough one and we needed to prepare well.  The guys here are really good, and the youngsters are exceptional too. It’s really good competition and I’m looking forward to the Sunshine Tour. We will then see from there if we can try the seniors.” Along with Simon, Mavundla, Sithebe and Ngcobo, here are the other players who secured their Sunshine Tour statuses for next season. Thabang Simon Thanda Mavundla Thabiso Ngcobo Slenda Sithebe Jastice Mashego Teboho Sefatsa Lyle Pedro Jabulane Mabilane Kayle Wykes Tristin Gallant Trevor Mahoney Irvin Mazibuko

Relentless Simon in pole position at Vusi Ngubeni

Soweto Country Club’s Thabang Simon said on Tuesday his goal was to win or place within the top 12 finishers in this week’s Altron Vusi Ngubeni Tournament at Huddle Park Golf and Recreation, and now, he has a shot at both. Simon – who has been at the summit of the leaderboard since the beginning of this 72-hole event – brought a slim one-stroke lead in the third round on Thursday. He was 10-under and one clear of Richard Kruger and Adriel Poonan of Pretoria Golf Club. Now, and after another solid showing, the veteran campaigner will take a two-shot lead into the final round thanks to a brilliant four-under-par 68 on day three. Now totalling 14-under for the week and two clear of Vulintaba Country Estate’s Slenda Sithebe, Simon is within reach of his targets. “Today was also a good day,” he said. “I had a brilliant front nine; I was four-under at the turn. I hit the ball well and I putted well too. Even on the back nine where I made the two bogeys, I think I did well. I three-putted on both times. I missed a short birdie-putt on number 12 and I think that’s where the problem started. “Then on 13, I hit it left of the flag and I just hit my first putt short and the second and then I made bogey. On 15, I hit it left and three-putted again. But at the end of the day, I played well again.” “I have been in the professional game for a long time, so I knew what I needed to do,” said Simon, alluding to how he kept his cool in the face of the mounting pressure. “Experience helps in these tournaments. I just tried to hit as many fairways as I could and avoid any trouble. I didn’t miss many greens because I was hitting it as well as I was yesterday. “There is a feeling that I might have left a few out there but I can’t complain because I am still in contention. There is tough competition here but, as I said, I have played professional golf for a while and I know what to do and things not to do. Today, I tried to minimize the mistakes and I am happy that I managed a bogey-free round. It was a good day of golf.” The four birdies he made on the front were accompanied by another two on the homeward nine and those, as he said, were cancelled out by the drops he made on that stretch. “Putting has been giving me a little problem because I have missed many short putts,” added Simon. “Now, I bring two putters to the golf course –a Scotty Cameron Newport 2 and a King Cobra. I use one on the practice green to try and remember my most comfortable grip and I use the other to play. It helps me.” He knows what’s at stake this week and that the chasing players are very capable of overturning a two-shot lead. After firing in a third successive 68 this week for a total of 12-under, Sithebe is one such player. He reeled in three birdies and a pair of eagles but made three bogeys in what could have been a truly magnificent outing for him. He was pleased, however, with how he played and his position going into the final round. “Everything is still going according to plan,” said Sithebe. “I want to give credit to my caddie; he was exceptional. I didn’t play the wind well yesterday but today, my caddie was on the spot with everything. We just trusted each other so much and even though I know I played well, I think most credit goes to him. “He gave me the perfect numbers for the eagle on 16 and then the one on 18; my playing partner and I were on the same spot and I saw him roll his in. I saw the line and I didn’t waste any time and I just went for it too. But I know tomorrow will be a different day and I need to forget about the last three days and start afresh. “It’s going to be tough but like I said, everything has been going well so far and I want to continue like this. There are top players coming for the top spot and all of us are hungry. So, it will be fun but it’s going to be tough too.” The top 12 finishers at the end of this qualifying school will earn Sunshine Tour cards for next season while the top 30 will get Altron Big Easy Tour cards.

Experience helps Simon retain top spot at Vusi Ngubeni

Thabang Simon rolled back the years on Wednesday, firing in a blemish-free five-under-par 67 in the second round of the Altron Vusi Ngubeni Tournament to total 10-under and maintain a one-stroke lead over Richard Kruger and Adriel Poonan. The 49-year-old Soweto Country Club member, Simon, was among the three leading players at the end of the first round and on day two, he had only one thing in mind: keep the foot on the gas. He opened with a confidence-boosting birdie to get going. Four pars later, Simon made further gains as he birdied the par-five sixth and ninth holes to turn in 33 and bogey-free. Coming home, and with the wind beginning to swirl a bit, Simon held his nerve. He made four straight pars before finding joy on 14, the third par-five hole here at Huddle Park Golf and Recreation, where he made birdie. Once again, and with pressure mounting, Simon showed experience as he stayed patient and kept the big numbers at bay. He would be rewarded with a birdie on the last to seal a second successive 67. “I have been in the professional game for a long time, so I knew what I needed to do,” said Simon, alluding to how he kept his cool in the face of the mounting pressure. “Experience helps in these tournaments. I just tried to hit as many fairways as I could and avoid any trouble. I didn’t miss many greens because I was hitting it as well as I was yesterday. “There is a feeling that I might have left a few out there but I can’t complain because I am still in contention. There is tough competition here but, as I said, I have played professional golf for a while and I know what to do and things not to do. Today, I tried to minimize on the mistakes and I am happy that I managed a bogey-free round. It was a good day of golf.” Kruger carded a 68 to back up his opening round of 67 and get his total to nine-under for the week. Coming in with a 67 of his own was Pretoria Golf Club’s Poonan. His front nine was sublime and consisted of five birdies with no bogey on the scorecard. The first of his two bogeys on the day was on the par-three 13th but Poonan recovered with a birdie on the next hole. He birdied 16 but closed with an unwelcomed bogey on the 18th. “I had a very nice front nine today; five-under and bogey-free,” noted Poonan. “The birdie on one was critical for me because you always want to have a good start. From there it was smooth sailing, really. But, honestly, I think walking the course during one of the practice rounds gave me a bit of an advantage because where I see guys hitting drivers on some holes, I don’t because I saw a few things when I was walking the course that I felt are not worth the risk. “That approach has helped me in trying to keep it in play. So, I am very satisfied with the work I have done the last two days and with the position I’m in. It shows that I am playing good golf. I just want to keep it the same going into the last 36 holes; not change too many things and keep the same mentality. The pressure is always there but the key is to concentrate and stay focused. I will try to do that in the next two rounds.” Taking the fourth spot on the leaderboard was Slenda Sithebe whose 68 took his total to eight-under for the tournament. Thanda Mavundla and Hayden Garcia share fifth on seven-under-par while Jabulane Mabilane of Mbombela Golf Club and Pilgrims Rest Golf Club’s Jastice Mashego share the seventh spot on six-under. The top 12 finishers at the end of this qualifying school will earn Sunshine Tour cards for next season while the top 30 will get Altron Big Easy Tour cards.

Veteran Simon in three-way share of lead at Huddle Park

Veteran Sunshine Tour campaigner, Thabang Simon played himself into a three-way share of the lead after he shot a five-under-par 67 on day one of the Altron Vusi Ngubeni Tournament at Huddle Park Golf and Recreation on Tuesday. The Altron Vusi Ngubeni Tournament is another Sunshine Tour initiative designed to afford more players of colour opportunities to earn playing privileges in the 2024/25 season of the Sunshine Tour. The tournament is named after a former board member of the Sunshine Tour, the late Vusi Ngubeni, whose passion for golf was unparalleled. Over 90 players of colour make up this week’s field and among them is Simon whose experience came to the fore in the first round. Along with Jabulane Mabilane and Richard Kruger, Simon fired in a beautiful 67 for a one-stroke lead ahead of day two at Huddle Park. “I have set myself a few targets this week,” stated Simon. “The first is to try and win this tournament. The second is to try and play myself into a position where I will get my Sunshine Tour card if I fail to win. A start like this is always good in any tournament and I was happy with how I handled myself on the course. “I feel like I should have scored better today but I just couldn’t make any putts. The longest putt I made was inside two meters. I missed two hole-in-ones and I think those would have helped me pull away from the other guys. But, it was a good round; solid overall and very few mistakes. I hope the next three days will go like this too.” Simon made three birdies and a solitary bogey on his front nine but produced a flawless effort on the homeward stretch, reeling in three birdies without a blemish. Mabilane’s round was an eventful one, characterised by seven birdies, an eagle, a bogey and a double. The Mbombela Golf Club player will be hoping to emulate this performance on moving day. Kruger, too, was just as magnificent and produced a near-perfect round. While he worked hard to keep the big numbers off his scorecard, he couldn’t avoid the bogey he made on the par-four 15th. “I was a solid front nine; just playing boring textbook golf,” said Kruger. “I just kept it boring and simple and made sure I’m hitting fairways and greens. And, I was rolling the putter really well and the four birdies on the front was just a really good set-up for the rest of the round. “Other than that bogey on 15, I thought my back nine was good. I didn’t make costly errors and that’s important around this golf course. But, I think after the turn, it was auto-pilot from there; just cruising and avoiding unnecessary mistakes. I’m looking forward to the second round.” Hayden Garcia, Adriel Poonan, Tristin Gallant and Slenda Sithebe are the closest challengers, just a shot off the pace on four-under-par. At three-under and in a share of eighth lies Trevor Mahoney and amateur Sibusiso Magagula who was very impressive on the day. “I thought it was a great round,” said the 22-year-old former South African Golf Development Board prodigy. “I scrambled a bit today but I was very excited to be mixing it up with the big boys. It was fun because it gave you the experience of competing against seasoned professionals. I am just happy that I played well and the scores show it.” The top 12 finishers at the end of this qualifying school will earn Sunshine Tour cards for next season while the top 30 will get Altron Big Easy Tour cards.

Vorster claims emphatic victory in Big Easy final

Parys Golf and Country Club member, Leon Vorster overturned a two-shot deficit to win The Final of the Altron Big Easy Tour by four on 13-under-par 203 at Blue Valley Golf and Country Estate on Thursday. Not only did Vorster’s victory hand him his maiden Altron Big Easy Tour title, but it also earned him and the other top 11 players on the Order of Merit their Sunshine Tour playing privileges for next season. Vorster carded a final round 67 which was characterised by six birdies and a solitary drop en route to claiming the championship in Centurion. “I played really well today,” said a delighted Vorster after his win. “I got off to a strong start and that helped with the momentum going forward. The front nine was very important for me to set myself up on the leaderboard. Then, I made some crucial par saves on the back nine and that really gave me some confidence to finish it off. “Being confident in this game can take you a long way, especially for me. So, I think my attitude helped me a lot today.” Vorster’s win also catapulted him to the top of the Order of Merit, unseating Royal Cape Golf Club’s Samuel Simpson who had occupied the summit before this event. He credited the Altron Big Easy Tour for ensuring his swift return to the Sunshine Tour which is every player's aspiration. “You can’t put into words, the impact that Altron has made in our lives as professionals,” Vorster said. “The Big Easy is our way into the Sunshine Tour and to have a sponsor like Altron coming in to invest in us and our dreams is just wonderful. We have a full schedule where we play and don’t have to sit at home and it’s all thanks to such organisation and the Sunshine Tour. “Personally, this win means a lot to me. There are so many people who are part of this journey and for me to be able to win a tournament and to know I’m going to be playing on the Sunshine Tour again is exciting. “My focus now will be on trying to keep my Sunshine Tour card and making a few cuts. But, I just want to get better at golf in general and now that I have an opportunity to compete against the best, it just feels amazing.” Ricky Hendler, Jason Roets and Keegan Mclachlan had already secured their cards for next season ahead of this final tournament of the regular Big Easy season. Both Hendler and Roets finished within the top 12 on the standings and having already secured their cards even before this event teed off, their places will be taken by the next two players on the list: Andrew Williamson and Philip Geerts. Roets finished outside the top 12 but won’t be awfully bothered. The other players who earned their Sunshine Tour cards via the Altron Big Easy Tour are Simpson, Werner Deyzel, Stals Swart, Ruan de Smidts, Dylan O’Leary, Dayne Moore, Travis Ladner, Andre De Decker, Therion Nel and State Mines Country Club’s Vaughn Van Deventer.

Roets pulls clear ahead of final round at Blue Valley

Jason Roets backed up his opening round of 68 with a brilliant six-under-par 66 in the second round of the Final of the Altron Big Easy Tour, pulling two shots clear on 10-under on Wednesday. Roets has set himself up for a dream finish to this season as he leads the field by two strokes ahead of the final round here on Thursday. He had a fast start on Wednesday as he birdied his first three holes. He gave a shot away on the fourth but recovered with back-to-back birdies on seven and eight. He birdied the 10th but dropped again on the next hole. He stabilised himself after that bogey and made five straight pars as he worked to keep the big numbers at bay. Those were followed by a brace of birdies on 17 and the last. “It was very nice to get off to a start like that,” said Roets who plays out of Eye of Africa. “I made a good putt on one; hit it close on two and then two-putted for birdie on three, so it was a solid start. It kind of set the tone for the day. When I got to the back nine, I kind of tried to keep doing what I was doing on the front. “I was very patient today. These 54-hole events are tricky, so all you’re trying to do in the first two days is to play yourself into contention and I have done that this week. The final round is going to be exciting but I must stay focused and do what I have been doing, have fun and stay in the moment.” With the duo of Eagle Canyon’s Travis Ladner and Leon Vorster lurking just two strokes back, Roets will need to bring his A-game if he is to walk out of Blue Valley victorious. Both Ladner and Vorster shot rounds of 66s on day two, with Ladner firing in a bogey-free effort. “It feels good to be in this position again,” Ladner said. “I started well yesterday but I finished badly. So, to come out here today with a better attitude and shoot six-under was satisfying. I want to play on the Sunshine Tour again next season and a strong performance here will help me get there. I am doing everything I can to make that happen. I think I’m eighth on the Order of Merit and a good finish here will guarantee me that card.” As pleased as he was with his second round, Parys Golf and Country Club’s Vorster didn’t want to look too far ahead after his spectacular 66. “I won’t think about it differently,” Vorster said of the looming final round of the season. “It’s just golf and you have to enjoy it and try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Obviously, I want to do well but you must still enjoy yourself whilst you are at it. My goal is to get back to the Sunshine Tour and I hope I can have a good finish this week.” Only the top 30 players on the final Order of Merit are eligible for the final tournament of the Altron Big Easy Tour. The top 12 players on the rankings will earn their Sunshine Tour playing cards for the upcoming season.

Basson in three-way share of lead at Blue Valley

The final tournament of the Altron Big Easy Tour got off to an exciting start at Blue Valley Golf Estate as no less than three players posted first-round scores of 68 to lead the field by one on Tuesday. Xander Basson, Jason Roets and Andre De Decker navigated their way expertly at Blue Valley on day one of this 54-hole event, signing for rounds of 68 apiece. Basson, who plays out of Silver Lakes Country Club in Pretoria, started like a house on fire in Centurion. After making a par on the first hole, Basson birdied the next four holes to get it to four-under through five. His joy was short-lived, however, as he dropped on the par-four fifth. He steadied himself and parred the next hole before making further gains with a birdie two on the par-three eighth. He made par on the ninth to turn in 32. The par on nine was followed by three more after the turn. Basson birdied the 13th but made back-to-back drops on 15 and 16. He redeemed himself with a solid birdie on the last to seal a round of 68. “I got off to a really good start today, birdied four of my first five holes,” said Basson. “That got me going really quick but the wind slowed me down a little bit on the back nine. I just couldn’t get a proper club but I kept it together and birdied the last. “I struggled a bit last week in the final round but today, it seems like I got a few things together, so I think I can go from here and do something special this week.” Mauritius’ Pierre Pelegrin, Vaughn Van Deventer, Thrion Nel, Stals Swart, Werner Deyzel and veteran Andrew McLardy share fourth on the leaderboard on three-under after the first round. Last week’s runner-up, Ricky Hendler, Slade Pickering, Keegan Mclachlan, Leon Vorster and Travis Ladner make up the top 10 leading players on two-under-par. Only the top 30 players on the final Order of Merit are eligible for the final tournament of the Altron Big Easy Tour. The top 12 players on the rankings will earn their Sunshine Tour playing cards for the upcoming season.

Swart targets Big Easy Final victory

He might have secured his Sunshine Tour card for the next season already but Stals Swart is not resting on his laurels, and a win is the only thing he seeks in this week’s Altron Big Easy Tour Final played at Blue Valley Golf Estate from Tuesday to Thursday. Still in his rookie season, the Silver Lakes Country Club player earned his Sunshine Tour card for the 2024/25 season through the Blue Label Development Tour which awards main Tour cards to the top two players on that series’ Order of Merit. He lies seventh on the Altron Big Easy Tour Order of Merit and a solid performance here this week will push him even higher on the rankings, landing him within the top 12 players who will earn their Sunshine Tour playing privileges. “Things seem to be heading in the right direction even though my game is not where I want it to be yet, said Swart ahead of the Final. “But, I am hoping to have a good week in the Final this week. I’m aiming to get through via the Big Easy Tour because, with that card, it’s easier to get into some events, especially the first four tournaments before the re-rank. “But, honestly, it was a big relief when I got my card through the Blue Label,” he added. “That was my main goal for the season. Remember, it is still my rookie season, so that made it all the more special. A lot of work went into this campaign and I made a few changes midway through the season, so it’s good to see it paying off.” Some of the changes he made started to pay dividends already as Swart narrowly missed out on a win in the Akasia event where he lost out to his good friend, Travis Ladner. “That was something of a heartbreak for me,” he said, recalling his loss in Pretoria. “But that’s life. You win some and you lose some. These things are going to happen but it’s how to recover from those that matters. You just have to learn from those and move on and try to be better next time. I made it my goal to win one this season and I have one tournament left to do that. Let’s see if we can make it happen this week.” Swart is among the top 30 players who are eligible for the 54-hole Final event at Blue Valley Golf Estate. Leading the final order of merit currently is Royal Cape Golf Club’s Samuel Simpson.  

O’Leary clinches Big Easy Play-Off for maiden title

Dylan O’Leary will breathe a sigh of relief following his one-stroke victory over Ricky Hendler in the Altron Big Easy Tour Play-Off held at Irene Country Club. The 33-year-old Riyal Johannesburg and Kensington player brought a one-stroke lead into the final round of this penultimate event of the season and knew that only a strong performance would get him over the line. Lying 29th on the Order of Merit ahead of this 54-hole event, and with 12 Sunshine Tour cards up for grabs come the end of the season, O’Leary had needed to show up and he did. He signed for four-under-par 68 on Friday to total 13-under-par 203 and win his first Sunshine Tour-sanctioned tournament. “This is huge for me, man,” exclaimed a visibly emotional O’Leary after his win. “I’ve had three wins on the Bushveld Tour but this is the big one for me. It’s been such a long season for me and I have had my fair share of personal issues to deal with. So, to win now and in the manner I did, is super special. I was 29th on the Order of Merit before this tournament and this win is going to bump me up. It feels like all the work is now paying off.” Starting from the 10th, O’Leary opened with back-to-back birdies and parred the next three holes. Another birdie found its way into his card on the 15th – his sixth – before closing that stretch with another birdie for a blemish-free 32. Coming home, and after making pars on 10 and 11, O’Leary’s progress was halted, no thanks to bogeys on 12 and 13. He steadied himself once more and made three straight pars before closing with two birdies on 17 and 18. “Things got a little wobbly on 12 and 13,” he noted, “and I had to quickly redirect my thoughts. Then, I got to the last two holes and I just got this renewed energy because Ricky was playing solidly. That guy can play; he just refuses to give up and when you have a playing partner like that, it rubs off you and I just had to keep going. “Winning on this Tour is so tough and competing against guys like Ricky; he won’t take his foot off the gas, so you also need to step up. But, I am glad I managed to get it done, especially at this time in the season. It really helps to stay patient.” Hendler was every bit as brilliant on Friday, popping up with a 68 of his own to make it a proper competition. Having secured his card already for next season’s Sunshine Tour campaign, Hendler will have another opportunity for a win in next week’s Final at Blue Valley Golf Estate. Only the top 30 players on the Altron Big Easy Tour Order of Merit are eligible for the Final at Blue Valley.

O’Leary leads as Hendler and Co. pile pressure in Irene

Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club’s Dylan O’Leary will take a slim lead into the final round of the Altron Big Easy Tour Play-Off on Friday, thanks to his second round of 68 which took his tournament total to nine-under par and a stroke clear of Ricky Hendler at Irene Country Club.

O’Leary was two shots off the pace set by Paul Boshoff after the opening round of this 54-hole event which is the second-last tournament of the current season. He shot 67 on day one and backed it up with a 68 on Thursday to take him to the summit of the leaderboard ahead of the final round.

“Today, I did the same things that I did yesterday,” said O’Leary, reflecting on his round. “But, I got off to a bit of a rocky start, and I know my psychologist will kill me but, my warm-up wasn’t great. But, I knew I could get it around and the putts fell in on the back nine. I had a really good back nine. I stayed in it.

“Tomorrow is going to be a tough day. Thoughts are going to wander; thoughts are going to come in tomorrow about winning or not winning, you know. But I must refocus myself on every shot and do the best that I can. The guys will come firing but they’re also in the same position that I am in. We will all go out there and whoever can hold it together the best, is probably going to take it.”

Leading the chase will be Dainfern Golf Estate’s Hendler whose brilliant back nine in the second round helped him five-under-par 67, and catapult him to second on the leaderboard. The left-hander was six-under-par 30 and bogey-free on that stretch.

“The front nine here is a bit tricky for me,” Hendler noted. “I think maybe it’s the shape I hit it as a left-handed golfer; I don’t know. And today the putts just didn’t drop. But, on the back nine, I made like two 10-footers in a row. My caddie was encouraging me a lot and we started to feel good about ourselves and said if we can shoot seven-under on the back nine, we can get into contention. We missed that target by one, but I’m still happy about how I played.

“I have been working very hard and I retained my Sunshine Tour card last week and that was awesome. So, I just came here this week to try and win and get some confidence back. But I am here to try to win this week and next week too, and get some confidence back because I know what I am capable of. So, I’m definitely going to come to play for a win tomorrow.”

Parys Golf and Country Estate’s Leon Vorster produced a scintillating 66 – the lowest round of the day – to get to seven under par and two off the pace.

“I putted well today,” said Vorster, “even though I feel like I left a few out there. I hope tomorrow they will come. The greens are really nice here, so I hope I can putt as well as I did today. I don’t like to dream ahead but a win for any of us here will mean a lot to that player. I’m lying 11th on the Order of Merit (top 12 earn Sunshine Tour cards for next season) and a good finish here and next week will help a lot. So, all of us here have different reasons to play well this week and at Blue Valley.”

Xander Basson, Christopher Long and overnight leader, Boshoff, share the fourth spot on the leaderboard on six-under for the tournament.

Only the top 50 players on the Altron Big Easy Tour Order of Merit are eligible for the Play-Off tournament which precedes the Final event of the season.

Bogey-free Boshoff leads at Irene

The opening round of the Altron Big Easy Tour Play-Off tournament – which was suspended on Tuesday – got underway at Irene Country Club on Wednesday and Paul Boshoff carded a blemish-free seven-under 65 to lead by two strokes over Dylan O’Leary. Scheduled for Tuesday 9 April, the opening round of this penultimate tournament in the regular season was abandoned due to inclement weather and resumed early on Wednesday. With the weather conditions a lot better than the previous day, Boshoff took full advantage of the improved conditions. “The green-keeping staff did a wonderful job on this course,” remarked Boshoff. “Apart from a wet patch here or there, one would not believe that it rained so heavily here yesterday. The course is just phenomenal; the greens are truly in great shape considering the amount of rain yesterday. “Other than that, though, I didn’t hit it as best as I wanted but I am very pleased with a bogey-free round. The ball-striking was not the best but I was able to get myself out of trouble when I needed to. A bogey-free 65 is never a bad start and I will take this sort of performance.” Boshoff took advantage of the par-fives on his front nine; birdieing both the second hole and the ninth. After the turn, the Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate player didn’t hold back. He birdied the par-five 10th and followed it up with another on 11. Boshoff made further gains on the par-three 13th, making a birdie there before closing with two more on 17 and 18. He is two shots clear of O’Leary who signed for a near-perfect five-under 67. “I thought I had a shaky start because I pulled my driver on my first hole but I ended up making a par there,” said O’Leary who plays out of Royal Johannesburg and Kensington. “But, from there, I just let myself go and started to play my normal game. I birdied number two and three, and on both holes, I hit it very close. I just gave myself a lot of chances today and I was happy with that because in this game, you have to create opportunities for yourself. “The bogey on 10; I got inside my own head a little bit there about that putt and I started to think about my score a little too much. But with hindsight, I’m almost glad I made the bogey because it kind of reset my thinking to say we still have a lot of golf to play and a long way to go. After that, I was just in the zone and tried to keep things as simple as I possibly could.” Members of the Papwa Sewgolum Class, Franklin Manchest and Jordan Duminy tie third after the opening round, thanks to rounds of 68 apiece. Veteran campaigner, Andrew McLardy, Vaughn Van Deventer, Christopher Long, Ricky Hendler and another member of the Papwa Sewgolum Class, Allister de Kock share fifth on three-under. Only the top 50 players on the Altron Big Easy Tour Order of Merit are eligible for the Play-Off tournament which precedes the Final event of the season.

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