Eaton tops at Link qualifier
Irene - Bryce Easton led 10 qualifiers into this week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship when he won the pre-qualifying round on Tuesday at Irene Country Club.
Easton, a 24-year-old Sunshine Tour rookie, carded a five-under-par 67 to head up the players who headed off to Leopard Creek for the €1-million event co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour.
His round with seven birdies and two bogeys lifted him three shots clear of the nearest opposition, with seven players carding two-under-par 70 - South Africans Dean Burmester, Darryn Lloyd, Nico van Rensburg, Callie Swart and Ryan Tipping, as well as Switzerland’s Robert Wiederkehr and Peter Wilson of England.
David Hewan and Tyrone Ryan of South Africa made up the balance of the players who got through the qualifier with their 71s, while countrymen Wandile Gininda, Brett Liddle, Ryan Thompson, Michael du Toit, Lyle Rowe, Bennie van der Merwe, Morne Buys, Teboho Sefatsa, Reggie Adams, JJ Senekal and Mark Fensham all missed out after a marathon playoff when they, too, finished on 71.
Easton spent much of his time on the Sunshine Big Easy Tour presented by Stonehage, winning his first tournament as a professional when he took the opening event of the new series designed to help young professionals get used to the tough competitive conditions they will face on the Sunshine Tour.
That experience certainly helped Easton, who managed a second-place finish in September’s Northern Cape Classic in Kimberley - his best showing on the Sunshine Tour. He also had a top-10 showing the month before, finishing fourth in the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Sishen.
The Alfred Dunhill Championship will be played at Leopard Creek for the seventh time this, and two-time winner Pablo Martin of Spain gets his title defence underway on Thursday.
Scores (RSA unless specified):
67 - Bryce Easton
70 - Dean Burmester, Robert Wiederkehr (SUI), Darryn Lloyd, Nico van Rensburg, Peter Wilson (ENG), Callie Swart, Ryan Tipping
71 - David Hewan
71 - Tyrone Ryan
Failed to qualify:
71 - Wandile Gininda
71 - Brett Liddle
71 - Ryan Thompson, Michael du Toit, Lyle Rowe, Bennie van der Merwe, Morne Buys, Teboho Sefatsa, Reggie Adams, JJ Senekal, Mark Fensham
72 - Divan Gerber, PG van Zyl, Adrian Ford, Stuart Clark (WAL), Nic Henning, Sean Farrell (ZIM), Lindani Ndwandwe, Ryan Cairns (ZIM), Don Black, Omar Sandys, Andre van Zyl, Johan Etsebeth
73 - Marius Beukes, Ryan Strauss, Lourens Kleynhans, Rossouw Loubser, Louis Calitz, Henk Alberts, Derik Ferreira, Dean O'Riley, Attie Schwartzel, Michael McGrady
74 - Paul Bradshaw, Grant Veenstra, Mark Williams, Mokgeteng J. Mashego, Ockie Strydom, Jake Redman, Francois van Vuuren, Irvin Mazibuko, Christo Pistorius, Wynand Dingle, Tranos Muradzikwa (ZIM)
75 - JP van der Walt, Michael Dreyer, Matthew Carvell, Johan Geldenhuys, John McClean, Coenie Stoop
76 - Mohammad Mandhu (ZIM), Raymond Mathonsi (SWZ), Patrick Spindler, Ryan Hood, Derick Petersen
77 - Toto Thimba (Jnr), Thabang Simon, Ross Wellington, Jeff Inglis (ENG), Eugen Marugi, Johan Bekker
79 - Owen Grobler, Wallie Coetsee, Garry Hill, Dayne Moore (ZAM)
80 - Ruwan Combrink, Akil Yousuf (ENG)
84 - Jarrod Cole-Edwardes
RTD - Ben Mannix (ENG)