The graduates of the 2015 Sunshine Tour Qualifying School reached their first hurdle of the season on Tuesday as they tried to pre-qualify for the Dimension Data Pro-Am. Calvin Caldeira was one of the successful contenders and shot 73 on Fancourt’s Montagu course to earn one of the 15 spots on offer.
“You have an idea of what to expect on your mind, but there were some nerves early this morning. I was definitely a bit jittery on the first box, but I managed to stay patient,” he said.
This week’s tournament carries a R4,5-million prize fund and from Thursday the new players have a real chance to test their mettle. Fancourt’s Montagu, Outeniqua and The Links courses host the professionals for one round each, followed by a cut and then a final round on Montagu.
“We’ve got three rounds on three different courses, so it’s an exciting challenge to start off the year. The pro-am format of the event also means that you can have a little bit of fun at the same time, so I’m really looking forward to this week,” he said.
On Tuesday the Krugersdorp golfer was one of 58 players to tee up in the pre-qualifier looking for a spot. He went on to shoot one-over-par and secured his chance to compete in the first event on the 2015 calendar.
“When you first get to an event of this scale it feels a bit like you’ve arrived. Well, maybe you haven’t arrived, but you’re on the path. It was special to come down the 18th today and see the marquee behind the green, to appreciate everything that’s happening,” said the 20-year-old.
Earning a spot in the tournament is the beginning of a long week and the next goal is to make the cut. There is big money and invaluable experience on offer at Fancourt this week and Caldeira will look to make the most of his opportunity.
“I think that new players on tour can’t come to these big events and expect too much. These tournaments are a bonus for us rookies, but you can’t rely on doing well. I’m hoping to have a good week and take in as much as possible,” he said.
Brett Liddle led the day with a round of 68 and was joined in first place by Zambia’s Dayne Moore. Big Easy Tour graduates Louis Calitz and Callie Swart shared third place after each shooting 69, while Tyrone Roelofsz, Jaco Prinsloo and Andrew Odoh shared fifth on one-under-par.