Hallowed ground for Andi

SA Open Championship: Pro AmPlaying your national open is a dream that every professional has, but making it as an amateur is all the more surreal. For Andi Dill it became a reality that he will face from Thursday at Glendower and the emotions ran high.

The 26-year-old was one of 343 who teed up on Tuesday in the hopes of earning one of 14 spots at the 104th South African Open Championship. He had to overcome stiff competition at Zwartkop Country Club, which was one of three pre-qualifier venues.

The club saw 116 players try their luck at getting a spot and Portugal’s Antonio Rosado led the way with a round of 65. He was joined by Etienne Bond and Theunis Spangenberg, who each shot 66, while the final two spots there went to Dill and Pieter Moolman, both of whom had to progress through a sudden-death playoff.

At Kempton Park Russel Franz was the first player to secure his spot after he carded 66 at the parklands track. Next in line was Tertius van den Berg, while the trio of Rhys West, Morne Buys and Erik van Rooyen made it through a five-man playoff and secured their tee times for Thursday.

Irene Country Club was an all-professional affair and the four spots on offer went to experienced players. Jacques Kruyswijk led the way to the second-oldest national open in the world with an electric round of seven-under-par 65. Veterans Kenneth Dube and Kevin Stone were the next two players to make the grade, while Ryan Tipping took the final spot.

Denis Hutchinson was the last amateur winner of the SA Open. That was back in 1959 and this week, some 56 years later, he’ll commentate while the new wave of hopefuls tee up with a glint in their eye.

It’s going to be a week unlike any other for Dill.

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