Ryan Thompson led 10 qualifiers into the Joburg Open when he topped the leaderboard of the pre-qualifying round on Tuesday on the West Course of Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.
Thompson carded a seven-under-par 64 on the 6,618-metre layout, two clear of Martin du Toit and Blanche Lamprecht.
The rest of the qualifying group who made it through to play in the richest event on the Sunshine Tour consisted of Italian Aron Zemmer, as well as South Africans Drikus van der Walt, Danie van Tonder, Bennie van der Merwe, Coenie Stoop, Beyers Smith and Grant Veenstra.
The Â1,3-million event is co-sanctioned by the European Tour and gets underway on Thursday on both the East and West courses of Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.
The field of 206 professionals Â and four invited amateurs Â will play a round on each of the course ahead of a cut to be made to the top 65 professionals and ties.
Masters champion Charl Schwartzel started his year off last year with his second consecutive victory in the event, and is looking to complete a rare hat-trick of victories.