Juan Langeveld went two shots better than his fellow contenders at the Dimension Data Pro-Am qualifier on Tuesday, shooting a five-under-par 67 at the Montagu course at Fancourt.
ÂItÂs a great course to play and I had a good day out there. IÂm doing the right thing, and that means a lot around here. You want to do well to set yourself up for the rest of the year with a tournament like this,Â he said.
The 30-year-old celebrated his birthday a fortnight ago and gave himself a late present when he tore down the back nine in 32 strokes to earn the first qualifying spot.
ÂI was just playing it right today Â hitting fairways and greens. I rolled in a few nice putts, especially on 14, which was my fourth birdie. That was when I felt like the pressure was off and I could relax,Â he said.
The top 10 finishers from TuesdayÂs qualifier earned spots at the R4-million tournament, which has been won by the likes of Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood.
Professionals must play a round at each course at Fancourt, namely The Links, Montagu and Outeniqua. After those 54 holes there is a cut to the leading 65 professionals and ties, who then play a final round at Montagu.
This year 40 places are on offer to European Tour players, and Simon Dyson will head up the foreign charge. HeÂll be joined by Peter Uihlein, who was the top-ranked amateur in world golf before turning professional.
The Sunshine TourÂs Qualifying School winner, GermanyÂs Torben Baumann, will begin his campaign in South Africa this week, joining the 168-man field in George.
The Dimension Data Pro-Am also has a rich history of South African stars, and the trophy has been lifted by Retief Goosen, Trevor Immelman, Louis Oosthuizen, and last weekÂs Africa Open winner Darren Fichardt.
This year European Tour winner Thomas Aiken will head the local field. HeÂll be joined by defending champion Oliver Bekker, who is playing great golf of late and won the 2013 season-opener, the Telkom PGA Pro-Am.
ÂPlaying nicely at the moment, hope to keep it going this week!Â he said on Twitter on Tuesday.
On the other end of the spectrum, Langeveld was pleased to have strung together his 67, and added: ÂIÂm really looking forward to the week. I played The Links yesterday and my game felt good, and if youÂre swinging it well there then you should be able to do well anywhere. Hopefully I can take my form from the last few days and turn it into a good result.Â
Tied for second on three-under-par 69 were Bryan Martin, Micky Hough and Sunshine Tour veteran Brett Liddle. They were followed by Drikus van der Walt and Nic Henning, who came home two below the card.
Seven players finished on one-under and had to enter sudden-death playoff for the final four places. Shaun Smith led the way, and was joined by Michael du Toit, Peter Moolman and Coenie Bester, who completed the field.