Neo on song at Modderfontein

15_SUN_VUS_RD1L_WEBNeo Thubisi shot 66 at Modderfontein Golf Club on Tuesday to open up the Vusi Ngubeni Qualifying School with a one-shot lead.

“It’s a nice start for me,” he said. “I was hitting the ball well and enjoying the course, especially the greens today. Putting was the secret for me and it’s a big relief for me to start this well, but I’m still looking forward to the rest of the tournament.”

The 26-year-old started on the 10th and had a steady run through the back nine, where he pencilled in two birdies to turn in 34. That solid start was all he needed to get going, and over his second loop the Schoeman Park Golf Club member made a further four birdies without dropping a shot to set the clubhouse lead at six-under-par, one shot clear of Omar Sandys.

This week’s Qualifying School is named in honour of former Sunshine Tour board member Vusi Ngubeni, who passed away in a car crash in 2003. The initial aim of the tournament was to give previously disadvantaged golfers a chance to compete on tour.

That was a cause which was particularly close to the heart of Ngubeni, a natural sportsman who achieved a five-handicap after only a short period of playing golf. He actively endeavoured to produce positive solutions to the issues created by a lack of access. He was also involved in the Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation, identifying and assisting promising young black golfers.

This week the 72-hole tournament offers up 15 Sunshine Tour cards for the coming season and Thubisi took a step closer to earning one of those coveted cards with his round of 66.

In third place was Jabulane Mabilane, an 18-year-old amateur who got his campaign off to a flying start with a Tuesday round of 68. Fellow amateur Brandon Jooste was tied for fourth place on three-under-par, joined by Sunshine Tour veterans Michael Dreyer and John Bele.

Three days remain and it will take continuous low scoring to achieve a coveted top-15 finish at Modderfontein.

“I will stay focused on my game, because I believe in it,” said Thubisi. “I don’t feel pressure at the moment, so I’ll try to play regulation golf. Playing so well gives me a lot of confidence. I don’t want to attack that much, I’d rather play for the greens and rely on my putting. Hopefully a few putts go in.”

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