Thriston Lawrence was on three-under par after the first round of The Open on the Old Course at St Andrews on Friday.
The 25-year-old’s round of 69 included seven birdies and four bogeys.
Lawrence, who won the SA Amateur Championship in 2013 and 2014 and is making his Major debut, is five shots behind the leader, American Cameron Young.
Two-time Open champion Ernie Els and Dylan Frittelli are both on three under, with Dean Burmester and 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen both on one under.
Els wound back the clock with two birdies on the first two holes, and another four (on the 8th, 9th, 11th and 12th) took him to five-under after 15 holes. But a bogey on the 16th and a double bogey on the 17th saw the 52-year-old slip down the leaderboard.
Garrick Higgo was on level par and Christiaan Bezuidenhout on one over, with Shaun Norris, Justin Harding and amateur Aldrich Potgieter all on two over and Zander Lombard on five over.
Erik van Rooyen pulled out with a neck injury before the round began.