The gold symbol that accompanied Thriston Lawrence’s first round score at The Alfred Dunhill Link Championship meant that he was playing Kingsbarns on Thursday, but it could just as easily have indicated how well he played.
The 18-year-old rookie has taken on the Challenge Tour this season and made three cuts in six starts on the European feeder tour. Those memories of playing the weekend will come in handy as he looks to build on his opening 68.
It’s a big ask from such a youngster, because the tournament is a links smorgasbord that plays out over Kingsbarns, Carnoustie, and The Old Course at St. Andrews.
He'll need solid nerves to handle the pressure that comes from playing with that kind of history under his feet, but such a good start on will go a long way to settling him down. There are 23 of his fellow South Africans in the field this week, but the Nelspruit local has become one to watch.
Lawrence closed out the first round in a share of 11th, two strokes clear of Louis Oosthuizen, who famously won The Open Championship at The Old Course in 2010.
Also in the field this week is 2012 champion Branden Grace, who’s gone cold of late and will look to this week as a chance to turn back on the heat. The George local represents Fancourt, which has a links to match any in the world. Years of practice there will come in handy this week.
George Coetzee and Ernie Els both made the Carnoustie clubhouse in one-under-par 71 for an early share of 43rd. The scoring went especially deep at Carnoustie, where Oliver Wilson equalled the course record of 64 to lead on day one.
If ever there was a tournament that tested the entire game it would be Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Each day brings a different links course and for a youngster like Lawrence it will take incredible grit to make the final round at The Old Course on Sunday. He’s on the right track though.