Jason Froneman made the most of his newly minted Sunshine Tour card for a second successive tournament to book his berth in the R16.5-million Joburg Open that tees off at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington on Thursday.
A week after he shot an eight under 64 to win one of three qualifiers for the BMW SA Open, the 19-year-old rookie from Kempton Park finished in a five-way tie for the lead in the qualifier at Huddle Park Golf Club.
“I’m really stoked that I’ve given myself another chance,” said Froneman, who mixed six birdies with a lone bogey for a five-under-par 65 to share the top spot with Kevin Rundle, Mikhail Tewary, Tyron McComb and England’s Jack Harrison.
“I played solidly on the front nine. I dropped a shot at five, but made up for it with five birdies. The wind picked up on the back nine, though, and it made it tough to attack the pins. A lot of holes were tucked into tricky spots, so it was wiser just to go for the middle of the green and play for par.
“I was really happy to pick up a birdie at 14 to get to five under. I figured that would be good enough to finish in the top 15 to get my spot, but I really thought someone in the afternoon field would go lower.”
Froneman – a Big Easy Tour campaigner in 2015 – secured his card for the 2016 Sunshine Tour season with a tie for 10th at Q-School in December.
“The competition to get into the co-sanctioned events is really fierce and with so many players in the SA Open qualifiers, I didn’t think I would have a chance,” he said.
“I gained a lot of confidence after coming through that battle and I was disappointed that I didn’t play well enough to make the cut. But I learned so much from the experience. It’s pretty overwhelming when you first come on Tour and the SA Open was huge.
“Making it into the field really fired me up for this week and I just hope I can play well enough to give myself a four-round week at the Joburg Open.”
Jason Viljoen, Bryn Flanagan, Daniel Green, Toby Tree from England and Swiss golfer Martin Rominger took the next five spots on four under 66.
Gert Myburgh carded a 67 to avoid the six-way sudden-death play-off for the final four spots, which went the way of Steven Ferreira, Allister de Kock, Matthew Carvell and veteran Callie Swart.
Bloemfontein’s Neezy Thubisi, Dwayne Basson and Keenan Davidse all returned level-par 70s and secured the five spots for previously disadvantaged players alongside Jacquin Hess and Omar Sandys.