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Stone relishing challenges of changes at Leopard CreekBrandon Stone says while he cannot guarantee victory at this year’s edition of the Alfred Dunhill Championship, let alone the seven-stroke margin of two years ago, he will aim to capitalise on the changes made to the Leopard Creek. “The changes that have been made are fantastic,” he said after playing the tournament pro-am on Tuesday. “The new grass is one of my favourite grasses around the world. The greens are a little bit tricky. The grass has not quite grown in completely. They are all over the place, but the condition of the golf course is 10 out of 10. It should be a fun week. “It is obviously fantastic to come back here as a defending champion. Anytime it’s a privilege to come here. Leopard Creek is quite special.  With all the changes, Mr Rupert wasn’t too happy about me winning by seven last time.” he laughed. In what was his hottest season on both the Sunshine Tour and European Tour season in 2016, Stone claimed the South African Open title at the start of the year and bookended his season with a victory at Leopard Creek to claim the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit. He harbours some good memories from his last appearance here and says while some may have faded away, he can still remember some of the shots he played during that week in Mpumalanga. “I do go back to the memories of my win here. It was quite fun,” Stone who is who is currently ranked 114 on the Official World Golf Ranking. “I can’t really remember much about the day. It was more of a blur. It was kind of woke up, teed off and then I feel like 15 minutes later I was walking down the 18th fairway kind of situation. But I obviously have a lot of tremendous memories walking around. “I think overall, anytime you get to come here, it is special. The environment is so relaxed. You feel like your entire aura, your entire energy just seems to chill down a few notches and you just feel comfortable whether that would be on a Monday, Tuesday or whether come Sunday afternoon, you just feel that you are at that ease level,” he added. The 25-year-old player was happy to have hit a great approach to the 18th hole in the pro-am. “I hit four-iron in and managed to stuff it,” he said. “I hit a big high cut to try to hold the green and managed to sneak on the back edge there.  I am not too sure if I will have the balls to do it on Sunday, but it is definitely fantastic to know that I can pull the shots off when it comes down to that.” Stone is confident about his game following the share of seventh at the South African Open Championship last week. “I am excited for the week. My game is feeling like it is in a good, sound, very stable position at the moment,” he said. “I really feel like I am swinging the club nicely. It feels like the putting stroke is slowly coming back to me. I managed to hole a few more putts on the weekend at the SA Open. It feels like it is all coming together. I really wish it was not the end of the season and more the start of the season to try and capitalise on that,” he said.  
Louis makes history with six-stroke SA Open winLouis makes history with six-stroke SA Open win Louis Oosthuizen cemented his place in the history books when he won the South African Open Championship hosted by the City of Joburg, co-sanctioned for the first time by the Sunshine Tour, the European Tour and the Asian Tour at Randpark Golf Club on Sunday. His six-stroke victory over France’s Romain Langasque also earned him the unique distinction of being only the fourth South African player to claim the oldest open championships in the world, namely The Open Championship and the South African Open Championship. He joins Bobby Locke, Gary Player and Ernie Els in that unique club of champions. “I think I’m the fourth South African to do it,” he said after his victory. “It feels very special to have the two oldest opens in the world. There was a lot of emotions at the end there. It was a tough four days but I feel like I put everything together until the end.” He came into the final round with a three-shot cushion over England’s Matt Wallace, Madalitso Muthiya of Zambia and his close personal friend Charl Schwartzel. A shaky start which was characterised by two back-to-back bogeys in his first three holes threatened to derail him as the chase for the number one spot gathered momentum behind him. He recovered swiftly, however, and picked up birdies on the fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth holes to arrest what looked like a dangerous threat to his ambition of claiming his maiden national open. “It looked like everyone started shaky today, except for Branden (Grace)” he remarked, “When I saw his name up there early on, I knew he was going to give a charge. All of a sudden, I had a one-shot lead and I tried to just narrow everything a little bit and got on fairways and greens to give myself opportunities. But I played well and I’m rolling the ball really good. If I had an easier shot with an iron, I would take it on. I just kept everything together nicely.” He looked like he’d adopted a cautious approach on the homeward nine, making pars from the 10th through to the 13th holes, until he made an eagle on the 14th hole to get to 18-under and open a six-shot lead with four holes left. He followed that up with a birdie on the 16th but that was quickly written off his card when he bogeyed the par-three 17th before closing with a par on the last. Already exempt for the open championship to be played at Royal Troon next season, Oosthuizen’s main objective was to win at Randpark while compatriot and friend, Schwartzel’s mission was two-sided. He wanted to claim his maiden South African Open Championship while eyeing a spot in The Open. He had to settle for the latter as he and England’s Oliver Wilson joined Langasque as the three players earning spots to the oldest open championship in the world after he finished in a share of third alongside Wilson and compatriots Bryce Easton and Thomas Aiken. Aiken and Easton missed out on The Open Championship spots on account of their lower rankings in the Official World Golf Ranking standings.
Rebula marches to Freddie Tait Cup glory in SA OpenBy Lali Stander for GolfRSA Reigning Amateur champion Jovan Rebula joined an extraordinary league of gentlemen when he claimed the coveted Freddie Tait Cup in the 2019 South African Open Championship. The 21-year-old George golfer carried a two-shot overnight lead into the final round and sealed the low amateur honour by four shots on six-under-par 278 at Randpark Golf Club on Sunday. “I dreamt about winning the Freddie Tait Cup since I won my first junior tournament. It has taken me three tries to do it, and I really had to grind it out today, but this rates right up there with winning the Amateur Championship. It’s incredibly satisfying to tick another huge box on my bucket list,” a smiling Rebula said. “Almost every Major champion and top South African golfers have won the Freddie Tait Cup. Bobby Locke, Trevor Immelman, Charl Schwartzel, Hennie Otto, Branden Grace, Brandon Stone. If winning the SA Open is the ultimate prize for our South African pros, the Freddie Tait is the rite of passage for every South African amateurs. “My uncle (Ernie Els) won it in 1989 and I am so incredibly proud that I’ve kept the family tradition going and added my name to the past winner’s list.” Rebula made his intentions clear when he laid down an early marker with an opening round of four-under 67 at Randpark Golf Club’s Bushwillow Course and confirmed his intent with a second round one-under 70 on Firethorn. He started a memorable third round alongside Els in the front, after three fellow GolfRSA National Squad members also made the cut to 65 and ties, set at two-under. Rebula was one shot clear of South Africa’s top ranked Wilco Nienaber and three strokes ahead of 2018 Sanlam SA Amateur champion Deon Germishuys and 15-year-old Yurav Premlall, the youngest amateur in the history of the SA Open to qualify and make the weekend. Spurred on by four-time Major winner Els, Rebula produced a second successive round of 70 on Firethorn to tighten his grip on the Freddie Tait Cup. “It was undoubtedly one of the most amazing experiences of my career to play with my uncle,” said the Auburn University student. “It was incredibly special, but it went by so quickly. I could have stayed out there for another 18 holes. “He has been a huge role model for me, even more off the course than on, and to tee it up with him in the SA Open for the first time, is a memory I will cherish for ever. The conditions were tough, especially through the stretch between 11 and 14, but he kept me positive.” Rebula started the final round on six-under, three clear of Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation stablemate Germishuys and five shots ahead of Premlall and Nienaber. He underlined his growing reputation as a future world-beater when he rallied with birdies at four and nine to wipe out a bogey-bogey start and turn level par. “It definitely wasn’t my best ball striking week, but I putted really well all week and I made a lot of clutch putts to keep the round going today,” said Rebula, who cancelled a bogey at 13 with a birdie at the next hole and made an incredible up-and-down from the bunker at 18 for a final round 71. “I didn’t have a clue what the other guys were doing through the round, but when I got to 18, I saw the leaderboard and I saw that Yurav was four-under with three to play. That bunker shot and putt at 18 suddenly became a lot more important. “Thanks to GolfRSA, I gained a lot of experience in big events abroad with the National Squad and that came into play this week. The night before the final round of The Amateur I barely slept, but I was a lot calmer going into the final round here at Randpark. “I’m really proud of the guys who teed it up and Deon, Wilco and Yurav, who made the cut. It’s great for amateur golf to see four amateurs on the weekend, and I hope we inspired the next generation.” Rebula tied for 24th alongside last year’s champion Chris Paisley, among others. Premlall and Germishuys grabbed a share of 43rd on two-under with Austin Connelly from Canada, Frenchman Gregory Bourdy and Henric Sturehed from Sweden. The Edengled junior carded rounds of 73, 67, 72 and 70, while Strand golfer Germishuys followed three successive rounds of 70 with a final round 72. Nienaber from Bloemfontein tied for 54th on one-over after posting rounds of 69, 69, 74 and 72.  
Louis fixes his swing on way to SA Open leadLouis Oosthuizen had to tinker with his swing on Saturday during the third round of the South African Open Championship hosted by City of Joburg, but he still managed to fire a four-under-par 67 at Randpark Golf Club. His six birdies and two bogeys gave him the best round of a strangely gusty highveld December day and a three-stroke lead over England’s Matt Wallace, Zambian Madalitso Muthiya and his old friend Charl Schwartzel, as the 2010 Open champion seeks to win his first national open title. “When things looked difficult early on in the round, I thought I was okay,” said Oosthuizen. “And then I hit some errant tee shots on five and six and 10 and 11. So I went back to hitting just a knock-down cut sort of shot with my driver on 12 and 13, and then 14 I felt comfortable again over it. You get those things during a round. Your tempo changes a little bit and you just need to fix it quickly before you start thinking about it too much.” It was a day on which his putting, as much as any other part of his game, kept him ahead of the chasing pack. “I feel comfortable with the putter,” he said. “I’ve been working on a few things with it and I feel really solid over it. But for my heart, I want to hit it a little closer than I did today. I made a lot of saving par putts, but all in all, it’s just rolling nicely.” A string of five pars in a row around the turn seemed to suggest things had gone quiet for him, but them he made three birdies in four holes to ignite his round again. “After the big par-save on 10, 12 was a crucial birdie, I felt, into the wind. And 14, I only had gap wedge into that par-five today and I needed another yard for it to be really good. It ended up a tough up-and-down for birdie. Then I made a good swing on 15 and birdied it. I sometimes feel the into-the-wind shots are easier to control than the downwind.” Wallace had a topsy-turvy homeward nine on his way to a three-under 68, with three bogeys, three pars and three birdies. It was the birdie on 18 that pleased him most. “That birdie on the last was the biggest putt of the week so far for me,” he said. “I thought I’d hit it a bit too hard but thankfully, it was on line. I hit everything I had in my line today which was massive.” Muthiya had a penalty for a double-hit on the fifth when he tried to knock his ball out of the fringe with a fairway wood. The resulting double-bogey was joined on his card by another on the 10th, but he held things together for a level-par round to keep himself in contention. “I’m very proud of how I was able to fight back,” he said. “Under the circumstances, the conditions, just being able to do that, making two birdies on the stretch was actually good.” Schwartzel could hardly find a fairway during his round of one-over-par 72, but he was pleased to be able to stay in contention. “I don’t know what the forecast is tomorrow, but I am playing well,” he said. “I putted slightly better the first two days. I just have to find the game that I had the first two days. It is there somewhere, it is not far away. Three shots back is close enough to make Louis scared.” Oosthuizen has led after 54 holes 14 times in his career, and gone on to win on eight of those occasions. So he knows what’s required. “I just need to go out tomorrow and do the same as I did today,” he said.  
Rebula tightens grip in SA Open amateur battleBy Lali Stander for GolfRSA Spurred on by his famous playing partner, George amateur Jovan Rebula tightened his grip on the Freddie Tait Cup challenge in Saturday’s third round of the South African Open Championship at Randpark Golf Club. Teeing off in the same group as his four-time Major winning uncle Ernie Els on the Firethorn Course, the pair spurred each other on in their first appearance together in a professional event. Rebula carded a one-under-par 70 to lead the four-man amateur battle by three shots on six-under 207. The 2018 Amateur champion will start the final push for glory two shots behind Els and is eight strokes adrift of 2010 Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, who fired a 67 to open up a three shot lead on 14-under 199. “It was really very, very special to play with Jovan,” said five-time SA Open winner Els, who beat his nephew’s score by two shots to tie for fifth on eight-under. “He is still a youngster and it will take a while for it to settle in with him, but this was a very special day for me.” Els said they dovetailed well and posted a best-ball score of 62. “I birdied the first and Jovan birdied the second and the third. I got the fourth and he got the fifth, so I mean, we made a lot of birdies out there,” said Els. “I was impressed with him. He kept it together really well through a tough stretch and he finished strong. “It was great to see my sister Carina out there watching with my dad, and his father Dragan on the bag. They must be such proud parents. Jovan showed a lot of talent as a youngster and I was hoping he would be really good. He is definitely good; he is going to be a great pro. I hope he breaks every record I ever set.” Rebula rallied with a trio of birdies after a bogey start. “I made two really good putts, 15 to 20 feet, at the second and third to get the confidence going and I just missed a birdie at four,” said the 21-year-old Auburn University senior. “I got another one in the hole on five and then it kind of went quiet. I had some good looks, but the birdies didn’t drop. The stretch from 10 to 13 is really tough into the wind, which showed up in force today. I bogeyed 10 and 11, but made a really good birdie putt on 13, the par five. “It was a big momentum putt for me and got me back to under par for the day. I just tried to keep it in play for the next couple of holes and made a really good birdie on 17. I hit a 7-iron from 205 metres to eight feet and holed the putt. It was another big putt for me. “I had a good look at 18, but just missed. I’m pleased with round and hopefully I can eliminate the mistakes in the final round and put together another solid performance.” It took Rebula three tries to throw his name in the hat for the Freddie Tait Cup, but fellow GolfRSA National Squad players Deon Germishuys, Wilco Nienaber and Yurav Premlall all made the weekend on their first try. Reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Germishuys bogeyed 10 and 13, but turned one-under after a birdie at 18. The Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member birdied four and six for a 70, which will see him start the final round in a tie for 41st on four-under. The Strand golfer is two shots clear of Premlall and the country’s top ranked Nienaber. “I was playing well on my front nine and made birdies at 12 and 14, but I gave shots back at 16 and 18 to turn level,” said Premlall, the youngest amateur to start in and make the cut in SA Open history at the age of 15 years and five months. “I birdied two and four to get to four-under, but was back to level with bogeys at five and six. The wind was off the left at seven and I went with the 3-wood. I wasn’t hitting it well on the driving range and it was a bad decision. My tee shot went out right and ended up in the hazard. “At eight, I just didn’t have any confidence after the drop and hit it in the hazard again and I had to up-and-down for a double. On the ninth, I hit a really good pitch shot and caught the slope. The ball rolled over the back, but I chipped it in for birdie. It was great to end the round on a positive note and I’m still in red numbers, so I just need to keep my head in the game in the final round.” Niebaber was two-under through nine, but had an upsetting start to his back nine. The 18-year-old – who booms his drives an average of 320 metres – was badly shaken after he hit a spectator on the 10th hole, and struggled to regain his composure. He came home in 40 for a 74 to tie for 55th with Premlall on one-under. “It really upset me,” said the Bloemfontein golfer. “I’ve seen it happen to other guys, but it knocked me for a six when it happened to me. I struggled to steady myself and find my rhythm and confidence. Made a nice birdie at 16, but messed up at 16 with a double and bogeyed 18. “I was glad the round was over, but I will come out fighting on Sunday. The battle is only over when the final putt drops.”  
Auto Draft 92Madalitso Muthiya lies in second spot ahead of the weekend’s play in the South African Open championship hoisted by City of Joburg at Randpark Golf Club, and he is in a good mental space as he tries to chase down the title in the world’s second-oldest championship. The Zambian, who has won once on the Sunshine Tour, posted a good three-under-par 68 for the second round and maintained the second spot he has occupied since the opening round. “I am pleased with where I am,” he said. “I think I have taken the right steps to play good golf and the next thing for me is to play good golf again. I think everything else will just take care of itself. Obviously, it is very hard to block pressure off, it is going to be there. But I think I am in a good place mentally to go out there and try to play good golf.” The 35-year-old navigated the Firethorn course in the second round well. He made his first bogey on the eight, but he pulled that back immediately with a birdie on nine. He also made a double on 13, but he followed that blemish with three consecutive birdies. “I started off quite solid,” he said about his front nine. “I made three good pars on the first three holes. I think number two was incredibly tough, but I hit two great shots there and I birdied number four. I made a drop shot on eight to go even-par. Then I almost holed out on my second shot on nine to finish one-under there. I made a long putt on the 12th and made double on 13th. So, that was a little bit of a blemish there and then I fired three birdies in a row. “I was pleased that I managed to bounce back after the blemish. I am very happy that I was able to hang in there and not let that distract me in terms of finishing off the round,” he said. The first two rounds were played over Bushwillow and Firethorn with the last two rounds set for Firethorn. “The courses are totally two different golf courses, but I think they played equally tough,” he said. “The only advantage on Bushwillow course is that the par-fives were mostly downwind so you can actually get to them quite easily and then there are few par-fours where it was playing shorter so you could have a lot of wedges in there. But we still had to play good and obviously, put it in position and make the putts.” With a solid performance on Firethorn already under his belt, Muthiya has reason to feel confident ahead of the weekend.  
Schwartzel’s eagle sees him grab SA Open leadCharl Schwartzel recovered from a poor tee shot on 17 on Friday to make eagle on the Bushwillow course at Randpark Golf Club and finish the second round of the South African Open Championship hosted by City of Joburg with a one-stroke lead. The 2011 Masters champion came home in six-under-par 30 on a day of blustery wind to cap a bogey-free round of eight-under 63. That saw him finish on 12-under at the halfway stage, with Zambia’s Madalitso Muthiya in second after his three-under-par 68 on the Firethorn course. “The drive on 17 was probably one of my worst tee shots for the week,” said Schwartzel. “I figured if I could walk off with four or five, it would be good. I managed to hit a really good little third shot there. They don’t happen very often. “I had 70 yards in, and I couldn’t leave it below the flag because it would have spun back into the water. I knew that there was a bank behind the green, end even without too much spin, the ball will always come back from that.” With both courses played by all the players, the halfway cut sees the action move to Firethorn for the weekend, and a one-shot edge for Schwartzel might prove crucial on the course which is generally acknowledged to be the tougher of the two at Randpark. He’s fighting confidence demons which have plagued his game lately, but he’s welcoming signs that he might be close to quelling those. “I still can’t figure out why I’m not getting the performances I need, even after that round!” he laughed. “I’ve had a few tournaments where I’ve played well like this, so I’m not going to talk too much yet. There’s lots of golf to play. All I know is I’m playing well. I’m driving the ball well and I haven’t been doing that consistently.” Muthiya overcame a double-bogey six on the 13th on Bushwillow on his way to his second spot at the halfway mark in the tournament. “I was pleased that I managed to bounce back after the blemish,” he said. “I am very happy that I was able to hang in there and not let that distract me in terms of finishing off the round.” In a share of third at the cut were last week’s AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open winner Kurt Katayama of the US, South African Zander Lombard and 2010 Open champion and first-round leader Louis Oosthuizen. Katayama ground his way to two-under on Bushwillow, Lombard overcame a triple bogey on the third on the same course before recovering on the back nine for his three-under, and Oosthuizen kept overcoming adversity often enough to card one-under 70 on Firethorn. “I felt I just kept it together and just got the round done and didn’t play myself out of it completely,” said Oosthuizen. “The wind made it tough. It’s like you’re backing off the whole time, you’re not committing. It’s just difficult, especially up here where the ball does go further as well.” Perhaps the tough conditions will be just what Schwartzel needs to keep his confidence high as he goes in search of his maiden national open championship title, and redemption for the shock play-off loss to Andy Sullivan back in 2014. “It’s always nice to be in contention, it’s nice to feel like I’m playing well, and it’s on golf courses that I’m familiar with,” said Schwartzel. “I’m looking forward to the weekend.”  
Amateur trio chasing Rebula in SA OpenBy Lali Stander on behalf of GolfRSA Wilco Nienaber, Deon Germishuys and 15-year-old Yurav Premlall (pictured; photo by Ernest Blignult) moved in on Jovan Rebula and threw this year’s hunt for the Freddie Tait Cup in the South African Open Championship at Randpark Golf Club wide open in Friday’s second round. The Freddie Tait Cup – awarded to the leading amateur who makes the 36-hole cut – is the hottest ticket item in amateur golf and boast some illustrious past winners, including Major champions Ernie Els and Trevor Immelman and European Tour winners Branden Grace and Brandon Stone.   Intent on following in his famous uncle Ernie Els’ footsteps, Rebula laid down a marker with an opening four-under 67 at the Bushwillow Course to lead the seven-man amateur challenge. The George golfer retained the overnight lead on five-under after carding a one-under 70 on Firethorn, but his fellow GolfRSA National Squad team-mates are in hot pursuit. South Africa’s number one ranked Nienaber moved within a shot of Rebula with a two-under 69, while 2018 Sanlam SA Amateur champion Germishuys and Premlall carded respective rounds of 70 and 67 to start the weekend in a 14-man tie on two-under. Nienaber got off to an explosive start with an eagle at the par five first on Bushwillow. The big-hitting Bloemfontein bomber fired three birdies in a row after the turn to go seven-under for the tournament, but he dropped back to four-under when he finished with a trio of bogeys. “I really made nice birdies on 10, 11, 12; I hit it quite close, so it was unfortunate the way I finished,” said the 18-old Grey College matriculant. “I had a wayward tee shot on 16 that cost me. We waited quite long on 17 for second shots and it took the rhythm out if the swing a bit. I hit it in the water and made a good six. At the last, I hit a poor second shot and couldn’t save par. The wind was swirling quite a lot and it would drop at intervals, so it was tough to judge club selection. You had to pick your line and just trust the shots. “It’s my first SA Open and this tournament is really living up to its billing. I was shaking for the first 15 holes in the first round. The putter face was just opening and closing all the time. I felt much better out there today and I feel confident going into the weekend.” Germishuys also burst from the blocks with an eagle start at Bushwillow, but the Strand golfer was in big trouble after four bogeys on the bounce from the fourth and a double at the par three eighth. “I got a bit lucky on the first hole,” said the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation player. “I blocked my drive right but it kicked out to the fairway. I hit gap-wedge to two metres and holed the eagle putt. “Then the swing went haywire. I dropped four in a row and after the double at eight I thought it was over. Then I made a long birdie on nine. My brother Johan, who is on the bag, said: “Come on, you can make a few more.” Germishuys birdied nine, 10 and 11, missed a short on 12 and after another good par on 13, he birdied 14 to get it back to one-under. “I hit a really good drive into 14 to two metres and made the putt. At 17, I was just left of the fairway in a bit of a thick lie. My brother told me I need one more birdie. I thought about laying up but he said: “You never lay up.” I hit a 4-iron just over the left bunker, chipped it to a metre and holed the putt for birdie. Good par on the last and that guaranteed me a start on the weekend. “I’m really stoked to play in my first SA Open and this has been an awesome experience so far. The hype, the sponsors, the branding, everything. I played with Trevor Immelman and Francesco Molinari and it was fantastic. I couldn’t have asked for two better playing partners in my SA Open debut.” Premlall, at 15 years and five months, is the youngest amateur to qualify for the SA Open and now the youngest to make the cut. In the last two months, the Glendower junior won his first Sunshine Tour Junior Series and two events on the Open Amateur circuit – the Silver Salver and the Central Gauteng Open. He took that form to Country Club Johannesburg Qualifier, where he beat the field with a six-under-par 66 to secure his spot in the SA Open. After a nervous start with a two-over 73 on Firethorn, the confidence returned and he racked up birdies at one, three, nine, 11 and 17 on Bushwillow. “I hit a great chip to three foot at the last, but I hit the putt lipped out,” said Premlall. “That bogey finish left me right on the cut-line. It was a long, nerve-wracking afternoon to wait and see where the cut would fall. I’ve had a great time so far and after the disappointing start, it all started to flow again on Bushwillow. “I’m having so much fun playing in my first professional tournament. It’s everything I dreamed of. My parents and friends came out to support me and my grandparents, who drove up from Durban. I’m so excited to play this weekend. It’s a dream come true.” A total of 70 players from the 270-player field made the cut, set at two-under 140, but it was a short week for fellow GolfRSA National Squad members Christo Lamprecht and Matt Saulez and Centurion amateur Nicholaus Frade. Southern Cape’s Lamprecht carded rounds of 72 and 77 to miss by eight. Frade shot rounds of 71 and 81 and Saulez from KwaZulu-Natal posted rounds of 80 and 75.  
Broadening horizons suit Roos at RandparkJake Roos relished the addition of the Asian Tour to the South African Open Championship hosted by City of Joburg as he fired on opening five-under-par 66 at Randpark Golf Club on Thursday. Roos, who is a member of the Sunshine Tour players committee and also sits on the board, lauded the historic event being co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour, the European Tour, and now the Asian Tour too. “It is brilliant for South Africa to broaden its horizons and partner with Asia as well now,” he said. “It is good and there are some good things leading out of that for our players and for our membership, get some opportunities overseas and for the guys to expand their careers. I think it is a great move and hopefully we can do some more in the future.” Roos got his score on the more difficult Firethorn course in the tournament that is played over Bushwillow and Firethorn for the opening two rounds ahead of the final two on Firethorn after the cut. The six-time Sunshine Tour winner managed to bounce back on his back nine after dropping three shots on his front nine. “It was a bit of an up and down start,” he admitted. “Started with a bogey on the second hole after a good drive, actually. And then I had four birdies in a row and a couple of drops. It was a little bit up and down, but the back nine I played it more solidly. I putted quite nicely and I enjoyed the greens. So, all in all I am happy.” The 38-year-old credited his good round to the good condition of the course. “The Firethorn course was playing so nice,” he said. “The greens are very good. It was quite windy today, especially in the morning. I hit a few good shots today, but if you get on the greens, you can make some good putts, because the greens are very, very good.” He will have his horizons broadened even more in today’s second round as he moves to the Bushwillow course where the first-round leader Louis Oosthuizen carded a nine-under 62.  
Rebula lays down SA Open marker at RandparkBy Lali Stander on behalf of GolfRSA Reigning Amateur champion Jovan Rebula laid down an early marker in the hunt for the Freddie Tait Cup after day one of the South African Open Championship, hosted by the City of Johannesburg at Randpark Golf Club. Rebula started Thursday’s first round alongside six fellow GolfRSA National Squad members and qualifier Nicholaus Frade. The Auburn University stand-out navigated the Bushwillow course in four-under 67 to finish in the top 20. He lags five off the pace from first round leader Louis Oosthuizen, whose flawless 62 at Bushwillow went unchallenged, and finished one shot shy of his famous uncle, four-time Major champion Ernie Els, who also played Bushwillow. “I had my dad on the bag and we really had a lot of fun out there,” said Rebula. “We took quite an aggressive approach, because with a field this size, you need the early jump and the Bushwillow course is the more score-able of the two.” The Southern Cape golfer made a fast start with back-to-back birdies and turned three-under after a third gain at the par three sixth. “It was nice to fly out of the blocks; it set a positive tone for the round,” Rebula said. “I had two more birdies on the back nine, but I dropped one at 15. It can always be better, but I’m happy to start Firethorn on Friday at four-under. “Conditions were pretty tough in the swirling wind, but I felt really comfortable out there. It was really great to have all the family supporting me, because I don’t see them that often. My dad and I chatted between shots, my mom and my best friend walked with us and my grandfather also came out to watch me after Uncle Ernie finished.” The Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member hopes to produce a similar score in Friday’s second round at Firethorn. “It’s definitely the tougher of the two courses,” he said. “You have to be really accurate off the tees and I am hitting it really straight at the moment. Good tee shots set me up for a good score today and I am not get defensive on Firethorn. There are some holes you can attack and I plan to do just that.” South Africa’s number one ranked Wilco Nienaber and reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Deon Germishuys are also still in the mix. Nienaber stumbled with a double bogey at the second hole at the Firethorn Course, but the big-hitting Bloemfontein golfer rallied with three birdies on the back nine and an eagle at the par five 14th saw him post two-under 69 for a share of 46th. Germishuys from Western Province was three-under after nine holes, but bogeyed 10 and 11 at Firethorn after the turn. He got it back to two-under with a birdie on 17, but a bogey finish dropped the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation golfer to a tie for 63rd on one-under 70. Country Club Johannesburg Qualifier Frade opened with an even-par 70 at Bushwillow. GolfRSA National Squad players Christo Lamprecht, Yurav Premlall and Matt Saulez round out the bottom of the amateur leaderboard. Southern Cape’s Lamprecht - the youngest winner of the Sanlam SA Amateur Championship and the youngest champion at 17 years and first foreign winner in the 76-year history of the East of Ireland Amateur Championship – is a further two strokes back. The Louis Oosthuizen Junior Golf Academy member signed for a one-over 72 at Bushwillow. Edenglen’s Premlall won the Country Club Johannesburg Qualifier on six-under-par 66. This earned the Glendower golfer a historic debut on the Firethorn Course as the youngest amateur at the age of 15 years and five months to tee it up in the world’s second oldest National Open. Premlall carded a two-over 73 to tie for 149th in the 270-strong player field. “I definitely felt the nerves at the start, but I settled down and played the back nine a lot better,” said the Golf School of Excellence player. “I’m looking forward to playing Bushwillow now. I hope I can put a few birdies on the card and dip under par, because I’d love to be here for the weekend.” Matt Saulez from Durban will have to get the putter going at Bushwillow in round two after opening with a nine-over-par 80 at Firethorn.  
Auto Draft 91He said he had his doubts about how many birdies could be made on the Bushwillow course at Randpark Golf Club, but after nine of them in his opening round of the South African Open Championship hosted by City of Joburg, Louis Oosthuizen doubted no more. The 2010 Open champion fired a bogey-free opening nine-under-par 63 to lead the tournament played over Bushwillow and Firethorn courses for the first two rounds ahead of the weekend which will see action exclusively on Firethorn by one stroke over Zambia’s Madalitso Muthiya and Kurt Kitiyama of the United States. “I was remembering that I said yesterday I wondered how there was a 61 on Bushwillow last year,” laughed Oosthuizen. “It was a strange round. There were a lot of holes that with a driver downwind, you can really get it close to the greens. There were quite a few holes where you had less than 70 yards in the whole time. If you feel like you’re putting nicely, you can definitely score there.” Oosthuizen spent his round in the company of Matt Wallace, the English world number 44 who is back in action after his share of fifth in the Nedbank Golf Challenge and of second in the DP World Tour Championship. He carded a six-under 65. And the top-ranked pair in the field put on quite a show for the fans. “Matt and I at one stage – I made a putt and then he made a putt and we were neck and neck the whole time up until 13 where he made bogey,” said Oosthuizen. It’s nice when two of the guys in the group play well. I played with Matt at Sun City in the Nedbank, actually. He’s a great player. He’s had an unbelievable season and he’s going to win many many more.” Wallace also enjoyed himself. “It was fun playing with Louis,” he said. “Near the end there, he was outside me, and I was inside, and he holes them and I was like, this is like match play now, I need to make this. I missed one on 16 and then made one on 17. I was pretty happy with that. I’ll take the positives from today and go again tomorrow.” Muthiya managed to put the disappointment of missing the cut in last week’s AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open behind him with an opening 29 on Bushwillow in a flawless display. “I did get the feeling a good performance was looming,” he said. “I played exceptionally well in Mauritius and missed the cut by one. I looked at that and learnt from those errors and just build on the positive things I did last week.” Kitiyama, on the other hand, was the champion in Mauritius, and had to deal with that experience in a different way. “Last week in Mauritius was mentally very draining, trying to stay calm and hold that lead for the entire last round,” he said. “It definitely took a toll coming into this week. I decided to play only nine holes on Wednesday because I just wanted to rest up. Tomorrow when I play Bushwillow we’ll see if resting helped me.” Zander Lombard pulled off the second-best round of the day on Firethorn behind Kitiyama with his seven-under-par 64 which included a bogey on his first hole, and the South African found himself in fourth. Back on five-under, but very handily placed, were Ernie Els and Branden Grace together with fellow South Africans Davis McIntyre, Jake Roos and Jbe’ Kruger, as well as Brazil’s Adilson Da Silva and three other players. Oosthuizen feels he has an important bit of the tournament behind him now. “I’m pleased to be in the lead by three, but there’s a long way to go,” he said. “I’ve got one of the courses out of the way, so now I just focus on the main course for the week and it feels like a new tournament starting tomorrow for me.”  
McIntyre chuffed with SA Open start 1Sunshine Tour rookie David McIntyre was very pleased after firing a five-under-par 66 for the opening round of the South African Open Championship hosted by City of Joburg at Randpark Golf Club on Thursday. “I am really chuffed for the solid start,” McIntyre said after finishing his round at Bushwillow Course in the tournament that is played over Bushwillow and Firethorn for the opening two round ahead of the final two on Firethorn. “I couldn’t think of a better way to start such a big event. I am still new on the tour. So, it has been such a treat this week for me.” McIntyre was not intimidated by the big stage and with support from his loved ones he took the bull by the horns. “For sure it is really crucial to get to a good start to this type of a tournament,” he said. “Obviously for me, I have never been in a co-sanctioned event before. So, it is going to take a different kind of nerve for me, if that makes sense. But yeah, it is such a big opportunity for me. I did not really have nerves on my first tee here. I had quite a few supporters from my family and friends. So, I felt really comfortable out there.” The Eagle Canyon Golf Estate player impressed himself by navigating the course well and he only made a single bogey on the par-three eighth. “Basically, I just made a couple of putts, hit fairways and hit greens on the back nine which are the things that worked well for me,” he said. “It is pretty simple or it is not simple, but I made it pretty simple.  I drove the ball really well today. I’d definitely say that was my strongest point today.” The 22-year-old who gained his card through Qualifying School in March this year would want to continue posting good results as the second-oldest open championship in the world progresses after he had poor finishes in his last five starts. McIntyre has made three cuts in 16 starts in the 2018-19 Sunshine Tour season and failed to qualify three times. The solid opening round should be good enough to calm those nerves ahead of the next three rounds.  

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