Southern Cape’s Andre Nel will lead an 11-strong South African charge in the final round of the Amateur Championship Qualifying Stage in Porthcawl, Wales on Tuesday.
Nel and his compatriots were among 288 players from 30 countries who started the 121th edition of this prestigious international amateur championship on Monday.
The first two rounds are contested at the Royal Porthcawl Golf Club and Pyle and Kenfig Golf Club, but following today’s second round, just the leading 64 players and ties will go advance to the Match Play stage of the Championship at Royal Porthcawl from Wednesday until Saturday.
Nel fired an opening 69 at the par-71 Pyle and Kenfig to grab a share the five-way tie at two under.
He stumbled with an early double bogey at the second hole and dropped another shot at the seventh, but rallied with a birdie at five and eagle at the par five ninth to turn level par.
The Kingswood golfer birdied 11 and took care of bogeys at 12 and 13 with a brace of birdies at 14 and 15 before finishing birdie-par-par.
‘I felt really good over the ball and had a few things go my way,’ Nel said.
‘I made a double early on and managed to fight back and get a few birdies on the way home. Pyle and Kenfig might technically be the less challenging of the two courses we are playing, but this is still a tough layout and the greens are really pure. You still have to hit the shots out there and I’m really happy that I managed to rally and put up a good score.’
The KeNako Academy player is a little apprehensive about his second round at Porthcawl today.
‘I’m only teeing off at 15h20 and that is something very novel for me,’ he said.
‘That’s usually when we come off the golf course at home. It’s going to be a little strange to start a round with a sun starting to set, but I just need to take all my focus to that first hole and make sure I start solidly.
‘Royal Porthcawl is a very long course with demanding tee shots, so keeping the ball in play and limiting mistakes are key to scoring. I’m going to keep things simple and try not to get too fancy. If I can keep the ball in play and the putts drop as they did at Pyle and Kenfig yesterday, it should be a solid round.’
Nel was the only South African to break par in the first round and the Border native finished five shots behind pacesetter Antoine Rozner.
The Frenchman, who ranks 25 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings, fired a course record seven-under-par 64 at Royal Porthcawl. He leads by one shot from Australian Cameron Davis, England’s Andrew Wilson and Scotland’s Barry Hume.
Nel’s fellow Golf RSA National Squad team-mate Jason Smith and Martin Rohwer were the next best South Africans on the first round leaderboard.
Smith from the HPC Tuks Golf Academy carded an even-par 72 at Royal Porthcawl, while Rohwer signed for a one over 72 at Pyle and Kenfig.
SA FIRST ROUND RESULTS
(RP – Royal Porthcawl / PK – Pyle & Kenfig)
69 Andre Nel (PK)
72 Jason Smith (RP); Martin Rohwer (PK)
73 Aubrey Beckley (RP)
74 Martin Rushton (RP)
75 James du Preez (PK); Albert Venter (PK); Keegan de Lange (RP); Jovan Rebula (RP)
76 Tristen Strydom (PK)
78 Kyle McClatchie (RP)
By Lali Stander