He finished 10th in the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School to gain his playing privileges for 2016, and Michael Palmer made the most of his qualification to play in the BMW South African Open Championship proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni with a two-under-par 70 on Thursday.
He was the first player off in the second-oldest open championship in golf, and while 70 left him five shots off the early pace set by Jaco van Zyl, the 26-year-old rookie who plays out of Bryanston Country Club was happy with his first round in his national open being played at Glendower Golf Club.
“I’m definitely happy with the result,” he said. “It started off kind of shaky with the driver. I think I hit my first fairway on the ninth hole. I don’t know if you’ve seen the rough, but it’s not that much fun. So it was a bit up and down, but it kind of steadied up on the back nine where I played really solidly, and then I just missed a little one on the last hole. But I’m pretty happy with my performance.”
He managed to regain the shots lost with each of his three bogeys on the front nine with birdies on three, eight and nine. The he made a third birdie in succession when he picked up a shot on 10, and got it to three-under before the frustrating drop on the 18th.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking on the first tee,” said Palmer of his first appearance in the SA Open. “But once I got underway, you kind of relax and start playing your own game a bit. But it’s definitely exciting to play the SA Open.
“It was nice to have someone announce me on the tee – it just started the whole experience off with some excitement for me,” he added.
He knows he left a couple out there, so he was buoyed ahead of the second round. “Two-under for any tournament, you walk away happy,” he said. “There’s definitely something I can work on though. I’m going to go to the range and try and sort out the driver a bit,” he said.