Harvey leads qualifiers into SA Match Play championship

Jared Harvey led the qualifier for the ISPS Handa South African Match Play Championship on Monday with a four-under-par 68 at Zwartkops Country Club.

As a rookie on the Sunshine Tour, he approaches the event with a degree of confidence despite the many more imponderables the tournament presents than most golf tournaments because the format has been absent from the Sunshine Tour for a long time.

With players competing at stroke play in all other Sunshine Tour events, the cut and thrust of match play, which was so much part of their amateur careers, will have receded into unfamiliarity.

“I won the South African Amateur Stroke Play in 2011,” said Harvery, “but I didn’t have such a great time at the Amateur Match Play. I think I went out in the second round.

“It’s been a while since my last competitive match play event, but in general I play well in that format. I definitely feel confident playing this format, but you’ve still got to show the game out there to win your matches.

“The rookies have played a bit more match play than some of the senior guys on tour, and we’ve played a bit more recently. I last played at the Argentine Amateur Championship last year and made it to the semis, which will be a nice memory this week,” he added.

James Kingston, the 2007 South African Open champion, was hard-pressed to remember when last he played a competitive match play event.

“It was long ago for sure,” the 46-year-old said, “but I’m not sure that the youngsters will have an edge over us. We all love the one-on-one nature of match play, and it gives us all so many different ways of playing each hole.”

Harvey agreed: “There’s a mental difference to match play – you have to go for it more than stroke play. I’m not going to go too overboard, but I’ll definitely play more aggressively, because you only risk losing a hole. In stroke play a few bad swings can cost you everything, but with this format I can have a real crack at it.”

It was a more conservative approach for Harvey in the qualifier: “Today I had a pretty solid round. I was three-over after five, and I was really glad I could bring it back, especially during my second nine,” he said.

The tournament gets underway on Tuesday with 96 players vying over 18 holes each for 48 spots in the second round with the 16 seeds in four brackets of 16. The final will take place on Sunday over 18 holes.

The ISPS Handa Match Play Championship will feature – for the first time on any of the international tours – or in any of the ISPS Handa-sponsored events around the world – disabled golfers in the same tournament as their able-bodied counterparts.

The 16 disabled players will start their tournament on Thursday, and the final and play-off for third will happen on Sunday on the same day as the Sunshine Tour professionals’ final.

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