Rhys West brings a little maturity with him, and it showed as he eased to the top of the leaderboard after the second round of the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School being played at Bloemfontein Golf Club and Schoeman Park Golf Club.
“I definitely would have been struggling if it wasn’t for the experience I gained playing internationally,” the 25-year-old from Glendower Golf Club said of his stint at Southeastern Louisiana University from 2009 until 2012.
He carded a three-under-par 69 at Bloemfontein Golf Club on Wednesday to go with his opening 68 at Schoeman Park Golf Club to move to seven-under-par, and a share of the overall lead with Juan Langeveld, James du Plessis and Daniel Hammond – that gave him a one-stroke edge over a group of three players on six-under-par.
There are 236 entrants 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 was hitting the ball well,” said West of his second round. “I battled a little with the putting – the greens get a little bumpy after the morning field has gone over them, but it’s the same for everybody, so I’m not complaining.”
West had a solid amateur career at home in South Africa ahead of his American sojourn: He was the 2006 South African Junior Golfer of the Year and that year, he ranked second among the under-18 golfers in South Africa with a 68.88 stroke average. He captured the under-16 South African Boy's Stroke Play championship in 2005 and won the under-19 South African Boy's Stroke Play championship the following season. He was a winner on the Ernie Els Junior Tour and represented South Africa in the Junior World Championships in Japan.
Du Plessis and Hammond produced the best rounds of the day on the two courses: Du Plessis made six birdies and a bogey around Schoeman Park for his 67, while Hammond matched that tally around Bloemfontein.
The three players on six-under were Gideon Pienaar, Tyrone Ryan and the leading amateur at this point, Bryce Bibby, who carded a second-successive three-under-par 69 to stay in contention.