Rookie Rhys battles veteran Ashley for PGA place

He wasn’t even born when Ashley Roestoff turned professional, but Rhys West will join the older man on Tuesday in a quest to qualify for this week’s Telkom Business PGA Championship at Country Club Johannesburg.


Roestoff won 10 Sunshine Tour titles after he turned professional in 1987, starting with the Fish River Sun Classic in 1992 and including the prestigious ICL International at Zwartkop Country Club in Pretoria in 1995.


West was born in 1988 and finished 28th in the 2014 Sunshine Tour Qualifying School tournament in Bloemfontein in January to secure his Sunshine Tour card after a stint at Southeastern Louisiana University from 2009 until 2012.


The Telkom Business PGA Championship started in 1923, and is one of the most prestigious tournaments in South Africa. Its trophy has the names of South African greats Sid Brews, Bobby Locke, Gary Player, Ernie Els and Louis Oosthuizen – amongst others – on it, and defending champion Jaco van Zyl will be looking to win it for the third time.


But West and Roestoff will have to join 40 other players in the pre-qualifying round to be played on Country Clubs Johannesburg’s Rocklands course in search of 15 spots amongst the 141 players already in the main tournament.


The 25-year-old West is from Glendower Golf Club and had a solid amateur career at home in South Africa ahead of his American sojourn: He was the 2006 South African Junior Golfer of the Year and that year, he ranked second among the under-18 golfers in South Africa with a 68.88 stroke average. He captured the under-16 South African Boy's Stroke Play championship in 2005 and won the under-19 South African Boy's Stroke Play championship the following season. He was a winner on the Ernie Els Junior Tour and represented South Africa in the Junior World Championships in Japan.


He had a poor fourth round at Qualifying School, carding a six-over-par 78, which meant he did not get the kind of finish which would have got him directly into the Telkom Business PGA Championship.


So the veteran and the rookie will be doing battle for a place in the tournament which is one which all South African professionals would really like to win.


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