Ryan hurdles obstacles into Vodacom Simola tournament

David Ryan played his way into the Vodacom Origins of Golf Simola on Tuesday with a four-under-par 68, but it all could have gone horribly wrong for the man having his second rookie season on the Sunshine Tour.

The 33-year-old from Randpark Ridge saw his caddie accidentally step on his ball and kick it on the seventh fairway, getting him a one-stroke penalty, and then he was unable to find his ball after his tee shot on the eighth.

He had to go back to the tee to play his third, and ended up making a second consecutive bogey – a setback which could have derailed his attempt to get into his first Vodacom Origins event since 2006.

“Luckily I got off to a good start,” said the 33-year-old, who campaigned on the Sunshine Tour from 2002 to 2006. “This is my second bite at the cherry. I got my PGA of South Africa qualification a couple of weeks ago.”

After his fast start – he was three-under through five holes – the consecutive mishaps could so easily have seen his quest for a spot in the 72-man field for the R600,000 prize fund go south. But he composed himself, birdied nine and then picked up two more birdies on 15 and 16 to finish one shot behind winner Ross Wellington.

“I got a bit cross with my caddie,” he laughed afterwards. “But I told him just to forget about it because there was nothing I could do about it. I was also determined not to let it affect me.”

He was one of 10 players who made it into the field from the pre-qualifier, sharing second with Graham van der Merwe.

The others who made it in were Blanche Lamprecht, Heinrich Bruiners, Divan Gerber, Lean Boezaart and Mark Fensham, while Drikus van der Walt and Riekus Nortje won a playoff amongst five players who finished on level-par 72 for the final two spots.

They will be up against defending champion Jean Hugo, as well as the man he beat in a playoff to win the title, Peter Karmis.

Also in the field is Branden Grace, the local 23-year-old who made the golfing world sit up and take notice with his three victories on the European Tour this year.

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