Bryce bursts onto scene in Alfred Dunhill Championship

He walked from the media centre a little bewildered, but qualifier Bryce Easton’s second-round 65 in the Alfred Dunhill Championship made the scribes sit up and take note as the Sunshine Tour rookie raced up the leaderboard.

“This is all very new to me,” he murmured as he left, but he had just faced six minutes of questions about his best round as a professional and about his background with aplomb.

Easton headed up the 10 players who made it into the field after a qualifying round on Tuesday, and he was one of four players who excelled during the year on the Sunshine Big Easy Tour presented by Stonehage.

The 10-tournament circuit of 36-hole events was designed to give young professionals the chance to hone their games under competitive conditions and make the step up to the Sunshine Tour which proves itself every year as a breeding ground for international stars.

Easton won the first event on the circuit at Crown Mines in March, and then finished 10th in the season ending 54-hole Big Easy Tour Championship in September.

But he converted the experience into a fourth place in the Vodacom Origins of Golf event in Sishen at the end of August, and then he finished second behind Oliver Bekker in the Northern Cape Classic in September.

His seven-under-par 65 at Leopard Creek vaulted the 24-year-old rookie into a spot amongst the leaders, and it all started with a run of five consecutive birdies after he made par on the first hole.

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Bryce Easton discusses his 65
Bryce Easton Round Two

“I was just happy to get some momentum going early,” he said. “Yesterday afternoon, I finished with a couple of three-putts to end up level par, which was a little disappointing, but today I got it going and kept it going.

“It was one of those stretches, where I wasn’t thinking a whole lot. I was just picking a club and having a go at it, straight at the flag, and fortunately making a few of the putts,” he added.

He picked up a sixth birdie at the eighth on his outward nine as he rolled in a 25-footer to turn in 29 on the shorter of the two nines on the 6,665-metre (7,249-yard) par-72 Leopard Creek, and then cruised home with a bunch of pars before making birdie on 18 to put an exclamation point on a great round.

“I left myself some sneaky little five-footers for par,” he said. “I was happy to make those and keep things going, but I just didn’t give myself the chances on the back nine.”

His approach to 18 before the tournament started – and Friday’s was only his second round on the course – was going to be conservative. “I said to myself that if I don’t have six-iron or less in my hand, I’m not going for it,” he said.

“But I hit a good drive down there today and I had four-iron in my hand and I had a go,” he laughed. “I was quite happy to see that one land on dry land.”

The learning has all started coming together for the rookie, and he’s hopeful of converting this good score into good finishes in big tournaments.

“I’m starting to hit the ball the way I want to after struggling a little bit with my ball-striking. But a couple more good days, and we’ll see what happens. These events are the ones to do well in,” he said.

“It’ll be a new experience for me, so I look forward to getting out there tomorrow and we’ll see what happens on Sunday.”

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