Soweto amateur Sipho Bujela was anything but out of his depth as he fired an impressive even par round of 72 in the opening round of the South African Open Championship at Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate on Thursday.
Bujela made history this week as he became the first black amateur to be exempt from qualifying for the event, but the 22-pyear-old was in no way overwhelmed by the occasion.
ÂAt first it was a bit nerve-wracking, but I kept it all together. Of course you get nervous the first few holes, but from there I got more chilled and started hitting the shots I wanted to hit.
ÂI donÂt mind the people coming to watch me as long as I am concentrating on what IÂm doing. People coming to watch me is just something IÂm going to have to get used to as an up-and-coming professional,Â he said.
Bujela reached the turn at one-over par 37, before beginning a run of three consecutive birdies from the par-five 11th hole. A double-bogey at the 17th cost him a sub-par finish, but itÂs been a more than satisfactory start for the talented young amateur as he targets the Freddie Tait Cup.
ÂI started nicely with pars, and I made some crucial putts. My putter started to get hot the back nine. Then I got to 17, and it was pretty disappointing because I made a silly double there. I three-putted from six foot. But IÂm very happy,Â he said.
And it appears that this is just the beginning for Bujela. The Ekurhuleni Open runner-up Â he lost in a play-off Â looks as though he has a long and successful professional career ahead of him, and he plans to turn pro very soon.
ÂI will be going to both Vusi Ngubeni and Q-school at the beginning of next year, so letÂs see where that takes me,Â he said.