Derik Ferreira took only 10 putts on his outward nine on the Fish River Sun Country Club course on Tuesday on his way to firing a seven-under-par 65 to qualify for the Â1-million Africa Open.
He led Wallie Coetsee and Louis Calitz into the main event which starts on Thursday at East London Golf Club by one stroke, with EnglandÂs Andrew Marshall, and the South African trio of Peter Moolman, Ryan Thompson and Anthony Michael a further shot back.
ÂToday, the putter obviously worked,Â he said without a hint of understatement after he made 30 for his opening nine which started on the 10th. ÂI just changed putters now, because last week I putted badly at the Joburg Open. I think it was a good change.Â
Ferreira was one of 82 golfers who competed for 10 places in the Africa Open, a Sunshine Tour event co-sanctioned by the European Tour.
The players went back to the roots of the Africa Open, which was played for the first time in 2008 at the Fish River Sun Country Club, a scenic jewel of the Amathole District Municipality, when it was won by Shaun Norris.
Ferreira was trying to get into the event for the fourth time, and will tee off on Thursday in the tournament proper for the first time. ÂThe closest IÂve been was in a play-off, and I didnÂt make it,Â he said, Âso IÂm really looking forward to going to East London to play it.Â
He made three consecutive birdies from 12 to 14 on his opening nine, and then three more in a row from 16 to 18. ÂMy back nine was not as good,Â he said of his homeward journey which included just one birdie. ÂI was not as aggressive as I was on my front nine,Â he added.
Jared Harvey, Martin du Toit and ItalyÂs Aron Zemmer came out on top in a nine-man play-off for the three remaining spots, with Wynand Dingle making it as first alternate.
Paul Bradshaw, Gert Myburgh, Darryn Lloyd, Tyrone Ryan and Jacques Kruyswijk missed out in the playoff.
Amongst those who missed out on three-under-par were veteran Kevin Stone, rookie MJ Daffue who had such a good week at last weekÂs Joburg Open, and Thabo Maseko.