Rookie Ryan Hood earned his only cheque of the year so far at the beginning of May, and that success has seen him through the qualifying round into the field for the Vodacom Origins of Golf event in Pretoria.
The 26-year-old from East London has missed the cut in four tournaments on the Sunshine Tour this year, and had to retire from a fifth, so his share of 16th place at the Sunshine Big Easy Tour event at Observatory Golf Club was his first taste of finishing in the money as a professional.
He carded a three-under-par 69 around the 6,459-metre Pretoria Country Club to finish third in the race for 10 places in the R540,000 tournament.
That gave him the knowledge that, should he make the 36-hole cut to 40 players and ties on Friday, he will be in line to earn more than double the R1,776 he won at Observatory.
ÂItÂs tough on the Sunshine Tour,Â he said. ÂYouÂre playing for money but you have to have money to be able to play.Â
That conundrum left him withdrawing from the last two events on the Sunshine Tour as he was unable to travel to them.
ÂBut I have a sponsor now, and that has been a huge relief for me as IÂm able to get to the events,Â he added.
He had a spotty opening nine after starting the qualifier on the 10th, dropping a shot on each of the first two holes, but an eagle on 12 got him back on track Â for a short while.
He traded two more bogeys for birdies to turn level, and then he picked up three birdies on his homeward nine to close three-under for the round.
He trailed PG van Zyl and Nic Henning into the main draw as that pair each carded four-under 68.
Hood shared third with David Hewan on 69, while Attie Schwartzel and Derik Ferreira tied for fifth on two-under-par 70.
Morne Buys, Derek Scullard, JJ Senekal and Coenie Stoop each carded one-under 71 to make up the balance of the 10 players making it into the main draw.
The 54-hole event gets underway on Thursday with a field of 72 professionals who play the first two rounds with 60 amateur guests of Vodacom in a series of six events carrying the theme, ÂSo you mean business?Â
And Hood got down to business when he listed to his caddie and was persuaded to go for the green on the 330-metre 17th. ÂGetting on that green from the tee and making birdie turned my round around,Â he said.