He didn’t wear a cap in Bloemfontein’s blazing sun, but England’s Jack Harrison managed to get around the Schoeman Park Golf Club layout in 72 strokes on Tuesday in the opening round of the 2014 Sunshine Tour Qualifying School.
“I have a cap in my bag,” he said, “but I thought with my 6.20am tee-off, I’d be able to play without it. But it gets hot pretty quickly here,” he said as he finished his round before 10.30.
He is one of 236 hopefuls who will have to play two rounds on each of the Bloemfontein Golf Club and Schoeman Park courses ahead of the cut to 60 players and those tying on that score, and, after a final round at Bloemfontein Golf Club, the top 30 players and ties will get their Sunshine Tour cards.
“I left a few shots out there,” said Harrison, as players do, no matter what their score, but his 72 added up to a solid start for a gruelling five-day event over 90 holes.
The 23-year-old is spending time in South Africa with a Vanderbijlpark-based friend, Christo Roos, who is a golf-course assistant professional.
He boasts an impressive golfing pedigree of his own: His father Phil was a professional who spent 14 years on the European Tour until 1993 and was the first-ever client of agent Chubby Chandler, whose International Sports Management group looks after some of the game’s biggest names.
Chandler is his godfather, and Harrison is hoping some of the success Chandler has achieved – as well as some of his influence – helps him get into some tournaments.
But he’s trying to make his own way too. “I got into the final stage of the Asian Tour Q-School last year, but didn’t make it,” he said. “I played on the Euro Pro Tour too, and I had a win in the West Surry Pro-Am.
“Getting a card on the Sunshine Tour would be good for me, as at least I wouldn’t have to travel across so many time zones to play in tournaments,” he added.
He also managed a second-place in the Powerade PGA Assistants’ Championship, where he showed his ability to go low consistently – all three of his rounds were in the 60s.
Some more of that consistency will serve him well in Bloemfontein.