Rowe grabs SA Open chance
Durban – Lyle Rowe lost his Sunshine Tour card last year, but he grabbed his opportunity with both hands this year as he headed up the list of qualifiers for the SA Open.
Playing at Royal Durban Golf Club, he carded a flawless five-under-par 67 to play his way into the 100th playing of one of the oldest open championships in the world.
After turning professional at the conclusion of the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School in 2008, he got 13 starts on the 2009 Sunshine Tour, and made just three cuts and earned a total of just under R16,000.
He went to the United Kingdom during 2010 to play on the Jamega Tour. “I had a couple of top 10s and a win there,” he said, “and that certainly helped my confidence levels.”
He qualified as an amateur for the 2006 SA Open in the Eastern Cape when it was played at Humewood, where Ernie Els won his last SA Open title.
He held off the challenge from South African Bryce Easton and England’s Ben Mannix, who lost in a playoff to Brandon Pieters in November’s BMG Classic. Easton and Mannix each carded four-under 68.
South African Vaughn Groenewald signed for a three-under 69, together with amateur Riekus Nortje, the Southern Cape under-23 champion.
At the other qualifying round, played at Mount Edgecombe Country Club, Welshman Stuart Clark and Sunshine Tour rookie Justin Harding headed up the leaderboard with their three-under 69s.
Harding won his maiden title on the Sunshine Tour this year when he took the Vodacom Business Origins of Golf Final at Oubaai in October.
Amateur Coenie Bester carded a two-under 70 to fill third position, while professionals Bennie van der Merwe and Colin Nel made up the final two spots.
Missing out was rookie Daniel Greene, whose chances of snatching the Bobby Locke trophy for Sunshine Tour Rookie of the Year from last week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship runner-up Anthony Michael has slipped from his grasp.
Amateur Brandon Stone, 17, with his Sunshine Tour veteran dad Kevin on the bag, also just missed out after he carded a one-under 71 at Royal Durban.Qualifiers:
Stuart Clark (WAL)
Coenie Bester (AMA)
Bennie van der Merwe
Ben Mannix (ENG)
Riekus Nortje (AMA)