He carded a five-under-par 67 at the Fish River Sun Country Club to lead 10 players into the main tournament which takes place at East London Golf Club, in itself a feat of survival as 89 players were involved in a battle for those spots which can mean so much financially for a battling professional.
Michael, who turns 30 in August, finished in a share of 13th on Sunday on the Joburg Open, winning nearly R250,000 in one go – more than double what he won in 2013 – and he had to put that relief out of his mind and get himself to East London to brace himself for the battle to get into the next tournament.
In his rookie year, he won over R900,000 – including a share of second in the Alfred Dunhill Championship – on his way to a highly creditable 10th position on the Order of Merit, but it hasn’t been easy for him ever since. He managed 64th spot in 2013 for his next-best season, was 99th in 2011 and 89th last year.
So the turnaround in his game exemplified by his performance in the Joburg Open is a welcome sign for Michael, as was the round in the pre-qualifier on Tuesday – it showed his tournament week in Johannesburg with rounds of 68-67-69-71 was no flash in the pan, achieved as it was under the pressure of requiring a good showing at the beginning of the year.
And to go five-under with just a day intervening after the Joburg Open finish will give him confidence ahead of the East London event.
He finished the pre-qualifier one stroke ahead of Andrew McLardy, with Eddie Taylor and Rhys Enoch a further shot back. Le Roux Ferreira and Juan Langeveld survived a five-man play-off for the final two spots in the main tournament.