Andrew Georgiou led the day at Selborne Park Golf Club, where he shot 66 to claim the first of ten places available at the Nelson Mandela Championship presented by ISPS Handa.
ÂItÂs good to be back in the thick of it. ItÂs my first time qualifying in a while and I knew that youÂve got nothing to lose when you qualify. That gives you a positive, aggressive mindset and thatÂs what got me through today,Â he said.
The 26-year-old has had a superb season on the Sunshine Tour, taking five top 10s and missing just two cuts throughout 2012. On Tuesday he once again went deep, finishing six below the card, alongside Englishman Steve Surry.
ÂI started on the 10th and made three birdies through the first four holes, but then I dropped two shots before the turn. That just makes you push your mindset and you play more aggressive than before, and it paid off, because I shot 31 on my second nine,Â said Georgiou.
The Erinvale Golf Club professional took home a share of 22nd at the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open a fortnight ago before heading for the final stage of PGA Tour Qualifying School. While he did not manage to earn his card in the States, heÂs come back with plenty of confidence. HeÂs turned his attention to South Africa now as he looks to consolidate a great season with a good result at this weekÂs Â1-million tournament, which plays out at Royal Durban Golf Club.
ÂI made it through first stage and then played really well at second stage,Â said Georgiou. ÂI was eight-under for second stage, but still missed it by two. ItÂs such a high level of golf over there and it gives me confidence knowing I can compete there. But now IÂm back here and my focus is on the Sunshine Tour.
ÂIÂm pretty happy with my year. IÂm three-for-three in qualifiers and IÂve only missed two cuts this year, so IÂm looking forward to the week and I want to make it to the weekend and hopefully earn my spot at the Alfred Dunhill Championship. Bring it on!Â
30-year-old Surry spent most of 2010 and 2011 playing on the Challenge Tour, but moved across to the Sunshine Tour for the 2012 season. HeÂs had moderate success, and his best result this year came just two weeks ago at the Cape Town Open, where he finished tied 16th with his two-under-par total.
Attie Schwartzel, Jacques Blaauw, Kevin Stone and Lindani Ndwandwe all shot 67 at Selborne. Their five-under-par scores were enough to see them straight into the event, ahead of a playoff for the final spots.
Seven players finished with scores of 68, but only four spots were available. Stefan Engell Andersen, Jacques van Tonder, Ben Mannix and Alan Michell claimed the last available places.