Martin starts well after qualifying tension

Lest it is thought we’re talking about a perpetual struggler, Martin du Toit came second in the Zambia Sugar Open in May. He lies 57th on the 2013 Sunshine Tour Order of Merit. And this week, he had to endure the tension associated with the South African Open Championship pre-qualifiers.


He got through that ordeal by carding a four-under-par 68 at Irene Country Club on Monday to get into his country’s national open championship – the pinnacle of tournaments for local professionals.


He responded to the difficulties posed for the 16 players who emerged from the more than 360 other who battled their way through the qualifying round by posting an opening two-under-par 70 at Glendower Golf Club on Thursday.


“The whole process is tiring,” said Du Toit after his first round. “Qualifiers have basically got two extra days that the other guys didn’t have to deal with.


“It’s especially difficult for these big events,” he said of the tournaments co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Tour and the European Tour. “You have to qualify on a different course. If this qualifier had been at Glendower, it would have been easier.


“Pre-qualifying saps your energy. I’ve learnt to deal with it. This is the fifth time I’ve qualified for one of these co-sanctioned tournaments in the last two years, so I’ve learnt how to manage my energy throughout the week, because it does wear you down a bit.”


He showed that throughout his opening round, which started at the 10th on Thursday, and he had two birdies in the bag by the time he reached the 15th. He made bogey at 17, but rectified that immediately with a birdie at 18 ahead of the turn. And then bogeys on three and seven were matched by birdies immediately after each of those on four and eight.


“I hit a couple of loose shots, but scrambled quite nicely,” he said. “But it’s not easy. The green speeds are up, the pins are tight. You’ve got to golf it around here to make a score.”


And when it comes to ‘golfing it’, Du Toit is uniquely qualified: After spending years in the United States, playing college golf,  professional golf and coaching golf at some of the top academies in America, Du Toit is now using his skills out of his Eagle Canyon Golf Estate base to help South Africa’s golfers improve their games.


That second place in Zambia has focused his energies on prioritising tournament golf over his teaching for a while.


“There are lot of games within games on tour,” he said, “and for me, I’m trying to get myself into the top 50 for next season. Basically, if I can have a halfway decent week in the SA Open, I’ll achieve that goal.


“Having had to pre-qualify all year this year was a result of being 100th on the 2012 Order of Merit. So this is all encouraging, because a decent score will see me sorted for next year.”


One thing it won’t do is get him into next week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship. He needs a top-five finish for that.


“I’ll have to do the qualifying thing all over again,” he sighed.


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