“I played really solidly today. In fact, I didn’t make a mistake until the 12th, and even there it was unfortunate, so I’m very happy with my score. Last week I also played well, but I had one bad hole that stopped me from qualifying, so I’m excited to start the season on a high,” he said.
Tuesday produced blustery conditions, but Tipping was prepared for a windy challenge and made just one bogey during the qualifying round as he carved out his share of the lead alongside Alan McLean on five-under-par.
“I used to struggle in the wind, but that was due to my technique,” Tipping said. “I’ve improved my technique and that helps me achieve the ball flight I want. Hopefully I can take what I did today at Fish River into this week’s tournament, because it could really spring me into the coming season.”
The 33-year-old won in 2009 at the SAA Pro-Am Invitational and knows what it will take to succeed this week.
“This is my fifth Africa Open and I’ve played about 24 European Tour events, so I’ve been around for long enough to understand what is required. It’s not about chasing scores, it’s about keeping your head down and getting the job done,” he said.
East London Golf Club is a shotmaker’s course and Tipping has been around the 6066-metre course enough times to have a game plan etched out for the week.
“I like the course, because the layout suits me. You’ve got to be good off the tee and keep the ball low, which I’ve become more and more successful at,” he said.
Behind Tipping and McLean came Darryn Lloyd, Drikus Bruyns, Erik van Rooyen and Le Roux Ferreira in a share of third on four-under-par. Four further spots were available, but six players were tied on three-under-par, which meant a sudden-death playoff was necessary to decide the final four qualifiers.
JC Richie, Anthony Michael, Grant Veenstra and Rhys West were all successful in their bid, while Daniel Gaunt and Louis Calitz missed out.