Arnoldi and Smith in good shape in Argentina

South Africa’s NJ Arnoldi grabbed a share of the first round lead in the stroke play qualifier for the 119th Argentine Amateur Championship on Tuesday, while reigning SA Stroke Play champion Jason Smith is handily placed in the top 15 in Pilar, Argentina.

Arnoldi got off to a flying start at the Highland Park Country Club, following successive birdies with an eagle at the par-five third to dip four under. The Ekurhuleni golfer parred the fourth and racked in two more birdies at the fifth and sixth holes.

Arnoldi reached the turn in six under and took the outright lead after a birdie at the par-five 14th, but the Nigel golfer immediately lost the advantage when he bogeyed the par-three 15th.

The country’s number six ranked amateur closed with three successive pars to sign for a six-under-par 66 and a share of the lead with Canadian Corey Conners.

Conners, who combined with Austin Connelly to lift the Juan Carlos Tailhade Cup on Sunday, also won the Individual competition in the prestigious tournament at the Los Lagartos Country Club.

Arnoldi and Conners will take a one stroke lead into the final round of the qualifier over Marco Iten from Switzerland and Venezuelan amateurs, Alejandro Perazzo and Gustavo Morantes.

Meanwhile Smith from Gauteng North reeled in two birdies on the front nine and eagled the par-five 10th to reach four under, but the TuksSport Golf Academy player lost the advantage down the back straight and finished on one-under-par 71 after bogeys at the 12th, 15th and 18th.

The leading sixty four players from the 36-hole stroke play qualifier will advance to the match play stages to determine the amateur champion for 2014.

The Argentine Amateur Championship was first played in 1904 and is the seventh oldest amateur championship in the world.

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.

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