Bryce goes East in search of career booster

While the top 30 available players on the Sunshine Tour duked it out for the R5-million Investec Cup Bonus Pool last week, Bryce Easton flew to Thailand to play in this week’s Chiangmai Golf Classic.

And while he’s not the highest-profile South African player in the field – 2012 Open champion Ernie Els is the star attraction in the Asian Tour event – his presence in the field is an interesting addition to Els and three other Sunshine Tour members who play this week at Alpine Golf Resort in Chiangmai.

The other South African-based players in the tournament are Jbe’ Kruger, Brazil’s Adilson Da Silva and Anton Haig.

Easton tried his hand at qualifying for the Asian Tour last year and again this year, narrowly missing out on each occasion, and his two Sunshine Tour victories in 2012 have made him a more formidable player than he was when he first tried to gain his playing privileges in Asia.

His maiden win came in just his second year as a professional when he won the Sun City Challenge at the Lost City in May in a four-man play-off with Allan Versfeld, Andrew Georgiou and Brandon Pieters.

He followed that just two weeks later with victory in the Vodacom Origins of Golf at Zebula, where three sub-70 rounds saw him cruise to a three-stroke margin over veteran Doug McGuigan.

This all came after he set the ball rolling in the first event ever on the Sunshine Big Easy Tour presented by Stonehage, winning at the inaugural invent on that tour at Crown Mines in March 2011.

After a string of good performances on that tour, he broke through on the Sunshine Tour with a fourth place in the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Sishen in August, and second in the Northern Cape Classic behind Oliver Bekker’s maiden professional victory.

And while his start to 2013 has not been stellar – he’s 37th on the Order of Merit – it does include a share of 14th in the Joburg Open and of 10th in the Telkom PGA Championship.

His trip to Thailand will lift him from his comfort zone, and he has already shown that he is a good enough player to thrive under that kind of pressure.

So while the Asian Tour fans are keeping their eyes on Els, Easton might be able to fly under the radar to the kind of result that will galvanise his career and lift it to the next level.

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