Amateur pair Nico du Buisson from Germiston and Eagle Canyon’s David McIntyre share the lead after the opening round of the Race to Q-School #3 at State Mines Country Club on Monday.
The third event in the IGT Tour’s Race to Q-School series saw a fantastically high standard of golf as 15 players went under par on day one and Du Buisson and McIntyre proved the most inspired as they blazed their way to the top.
The pair lead the logjam at five-under-par 67 while Serengeti amateur Paul Boshoff, Bryce Myburgh and the Wanna Be A Champion duo Dylan Docherty and Jonathan Waschefort finished two strokes adrift in a tie for third.
No less than seven players share seventh, including South African Development Board standout Steven le Roux from Free State and, with two more players tied at one under, it could shape up into a tight fight in Brakpan this week.
Du Buisson set off in the morning field and mixed an eagle and five birdies with a pair of bogeys to take the sole lead, but McIntyre, a maiden winner on the country’s premier development Tour last year, fired eight birdies in the afternoon to join the Germiston amateur in pole position.
Du Buisson’s best result in eight previous starts was 25th at the Lake Club Challenge in September and a tie for 31st at the Race to Q-School #1 at ERPM Golf Club a fortnight ago. He credited the sudden surge of form to the magic number 28.
‘I haven’t been able to break 30 putts in the last few months, but today they started dropping,’ said the 22-year-old. ‘I think it definitely helped that I was a member at State Mines as a junior, because I know the course so well. I know where to hit it and where to miss, so I could play a lot freer.
‘I only had 28 putts, and that included two soft bogeys. It’s the kind of rounds I’ve been looking for and it feels really good to produce the kind of score that I know I am capable of.’
Du Buisson hit a gap-wedge to seven feet at the first and knocked in the putt to get off to a great birdie start. He drove it slightly right at the third, but a smooth five-iron from 195 metres out on to the green left him a foot behind the hole.
After he boxed the putt for eagle, he parred the next four holes and a pitching wedge into the short eighth to three feet set up another birdie opportunity.
‘I got it to five under with a great superb up-and-down from the bunker at 10,’ said Du Buisson. ‘I had a three-putt for bogey at 12, but I hit a soft eight-iron into the wind and left myself pin high right, just five feet from the pin.
‘I made the birdie putt and also knocked one in the hole at the last par five (15). Unfortunately I short-sided myself at 17 when I missed the green left. The chip was okay, but I missed the par putt and made the return for a soft bogey.
‘Overall, it was a really fun day out there and it was a great feeling to walk off with 28 putts. When the putter warms up, the confidence grows and now I just want to keep that momentum going.’
By Lali Stander
FIRST ROUND SCORES
All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified and amateurs are indicated as AMA:
67 – Nico du Buisson AMA, David McIntyre AMA
69 – Dylan Docherty, Paul Boshoff AMA, Jonathan Waschefort, Bryce Myburgh
70 – Jason Ackerman AMA, Maritz Wessels, Martin Rohwer, Coert Groenewald, Stephan Erasmus AMA, Jacques de Villiers, Steven le Roux AMA
71 – Tristan Nel AMA, JP Rousseau AMA