EKURHULENI (15 November 2012) – Southern Cape Open champion Sipho Bujela and South Africa’s number three ranked amateur Zander Lombard laid down early markers for the Freddie Tait Cup awarded to the leading amateur when they opened up a gap on the remaining amateurs challenging at this year’s South African Open Championship.
Both players fired even-par 72s to tie for 64 at the Jack Nicklaus championship layout at Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estate to finish eights shots behind first round pacesetter Merrick Bremner.
Bujela and Lombard are two shots clear of last year’s leading amateur winner Brandon Stone, Ekurhuleni’s Gert Myburgh and qualifier Terence Boardman.
Boardman had a rather adventurous start to his round.
The Royal Johannesburg and Kensington golfer parred the 10th, double bogeyed the 11th and then flew a five-iron from 206 meters to ace the par-three 12th hole and score the European Tour’s 34th hole-in-one this season.
Qualifiers Jacques Kruyswijk from Limpopo and Ekurhuleni’s Coert Groenewald both carded 76s while the country’s top ranked player and reigning SA Stroke Play champion, Haydn Porteous, signed for a 78.
Bujela got his round going with eight pars, dropped a shot at the ninth to turn in 37 and dipped to two under with three successive birdies from the 11th hole. The Soweto amateur parred the next three holes, but a three-putt at the par-four 17th derailed his effort.
“I’m happy overall with how I performed,” the 22-year-old said.
“I was really nervous when we teed off, but I settled down after three holes. This is definitely a course where you can’t attack the pins and I learned that the hard way at 17. You have to plan your approaches and park it on the right side of the pin.
“It was an amazing experience being out there with guys like Charl Schwarzel, Branden Grace and Martin Kaymer. I’m really enjoying this opportunity and I just have to keep my focus and stay grounded.”