If there’s a common thought amongst the players at this year’s Sunshine Tour Qualifying School at Bloemfontein Golf Club and Schoeman Park Golf Club, Justin Turner expressed it best after his second round level-par 72 on Wednesday.
“You can’t win it on the first day, but you sure as hell can lose it on the first day,” said Turner, who was grateful for his opening five-under-par 67 which made sure he didn’t lose it in his opening salvo at Schoeman Park.
He found himself steady at five-under for the tournament, a cool four strokes off the hot pace set by Zander Lombard, who tore round Schoeman Park in eight-under 64 in the second round to move to nine-under.
That round started with 29 for his opening nine – he started on the 10th – which included five birdies and an eagle. “I played pretty funky golf on the back nine,” he said. “I made two or three long putts, about 15 metres, 45 feet, and that made a big difference.
“It’s my first 29 in tournament golf, and it certainly gets a round going in the right direction. I faltered a bit with the drop on two – my 11th – but I pulled myself together and made a couple more birdies and I am really pleased with the way things went.
“I liked the Schoeman Park layout more than I thought I would. The greens rolled better, and the wind was not as stiff around it as it was in the morning of the first round – I could go for a few flags.”
He finished the day with a two stroke lead over Bryce Bibby, who carded a 68 at Schoeman Park. Three players shared third on six-under: South Africans Curt Groenewald and veteran Michael Scholz, and they were joined by Italian first round leader Alessandro Grammatica.
They’re all aware – like Turner is – that the tournament is far from won.
“It’s a marathon week,” Turner said. “You’ve just got to be patient, play smart. You don’t need any fireworks. Consistency is key out there in a tournament like this. I’ve been here a few times myself and consistency hasn’t always been my best friend, but when I got through last year, I think I learned that lesson. The smarter you play, the better you’re going to finish in a tournament like this.”
He finished 19th in last year’s Qualifying School, with rounds of 72-71-70-69-72 – a nice collection of rounds at par or below for six-under for the 90-hole marathon.
So when he signed for his 72 at Bloemfontein Golf Club in this year’s second round, he was pleased to do so – even though he had four bogeys and a double on his card. The upside of that, a mirror-image, in fact, was that he made four birdies and an eagle.
“The 67 in my opening round was awesome because of the breathing space it gave me,” he said. “I played well but I definitely left a couple of shots out there. Today, I played well, actually. I hit the ball really well, but I had three three-putts and I double-hit a chip on 16 which cost me a one-stroke penalty.
“Four birdies and an eagle for 72 is not great if you think about it, but it was a bit of a struggle out there. I found the wind tough to cope with, as it was swirling a lot.”
And even though Turner believes that you can do too much work in preparation for a long tournament like this, he went straight out onto the practice green to straighten out a few things. “I hit some pretty poor putts out there, so I need to put in some good work on the putting green,” he said.