Frittelli, leading amateur after rain delayed first round

Dylan Frittelli shot a 68, four under par, to be the leading amateur after the first roundDylan Frittelli’s four under par sixty eight was the leading score by an amateur in the rain delayed first round of the South African Open Championship on Friday. The twenty year old Irene Country Club golfer is lying tied in twenty first place.

Next best amateur is Dean O’Riley one shot back.

Despite the reservations expressed by some players as to state of readiness of the Durban Country Club layout, the venue for the 72 hole stroke play championship, good scoring was order of the day.

Both Retief Goosen and Alexander Cejka (Germany) managed to record rounds of eight under par sixty four to take a one stroke lead over pre-tournament favourites Ernie Els and Sunshine Tour Order of Merit leader, Charl Schwartzel.

The race for the Freddie Tait Cup, the leading amateur in the South African Open Championship, began in promising fashion.

Two players selected to represent South African in the World Amateur Team Championships in Argentina in October this year have set the pace for the five other amateurs in the field of one hundred and fifty six players.

Frittelli, who has been struggled to find his form during the World Amateur Team Championships, produced some fine golf today. He went out in 34, two under par, made up of two bogeys, two birdies and an eagle on the par four thirteenth hole (his fourth hole). “I had a great chip in for an eagle,” said the satisfied University of Texas student after his round.

He came home over the front nine (his second nine holes) in 34 again made up of two bogeys, two birdies and an eagle on the par five eighth hole. “A five iron to the front of the green and a twenty foot putt did the trick,” said Frittelli of his eagle on front nine.

“I wrote may last exam on the 2 December. I have been practicing at University since then. I feel good about my game,” is how the satisfied second year student at the University based in the town of Austin, Texas summarised his preparation for this week.

Dean O'Riley, shot a 69, three under parDean O’Riley on the other hand started with a blinder. He rolled in a forty foot put on the tenth hole (his first hole) for an eagle. “I could not have asked for a better start to the day,” said the twenty one year old who plays his golf at Ebotse Golf and Country Estate in Benoni.

The Ekurhuleni amateur recorded a further two bogeys and three birdies, going out in two under par 34 and coming back in one under par 35. “On the par five third hole I hit it long and to the left of the green. A chip and one putt gave me a very satisfactory birdie,” said an elated O’Riley after his round.

O’Riley has won playing privileges for the 2011 Sunshine Tour. “A good performance here this week will be a nice confidence booster for next year,” he said.

Riekus Nortje and Ryan Dreyer both finished on one under par seventy one, playing in the morning field.

The way the morning started for the nineteen year old Fancourt golfer, Nortje, gave no indication what was to come. “It was just nerves,” said Nortje after his round. He double bogeyed the tenth hole, a par five, his first hole. Birdies at twelve and fourteen got him back to regulation. Another double bogey on sixteen neutralised the good work done by the talented young golfer, who has twice won national colours this year. He then drove the green on eighteen two putted for a birdie to turn in one over par 37. Three birdies and a solitary bogey coming home enabled Nortje to record a two under par thirty four.

“I am so happy with my performance,” enthused the Southern Cape golfer. “Steven van Heerden, one of the country’s top amateur golfers who is from Margate on the South Coast, is carrying my bag. This is the first time I have qualified to play the South African Open Championship.”

Ryan Dreyer, at thirty eight years of age, and a seasoned campaigner having played professional golf for more than ten years before he got his amateur status back, had loops of 35 and 36 for his round. This included four birdies and three bogeys.

The current Glacier South African Amateur Champion Laurie Canter, of England, recorded a disappointing two over par seventy four. Drawn with defending champion Richie Ramsay, of Scotland, and championship leader after the first round, Retief Goosen, proved an experience the twenty one year old amateur from Saltford Golf Club (between Bath and Bristol in Somerset, England).

“It was an awesome draw,” enthused Canter after his round. “Playing in front of so many spectators and with two great professionals was a bit nerve wracking to start with,” confessed the likeable English golfer. “Although I was four over after six holes I settled down to play the last the last twelve holes in two under par. I hope to take that form through to the second round tomorrow in so doing make the cut. If I can make a few putts, be patient, there is no reason why I can’t do that tomorrow.”

But it was the reassuring words of advice from the defending champion, Richie Ramsay, of Scotland, that Canter, by his own admission, now realises that his experiences at the start of his round today are nothing new to young aspirant golfers like him. According to Canter, Ramsay said to him, after his round today, that the first couple of big events he played as an amateur were a blurr in his memory – “a bit like my experience today,” said Canter with a smile.

Saturday the second round will be played. To get through the cut tomorrow it is estimated that a score of two under par may do it but three or better is likely to secure a spot in the third round and a shot at the prestigious Freddie Tait Cup.

Dylan Frittelli won it last year, today he made his intention clear, who ever wants the Freddie Tait Cup had better play some great golf.

South African Open Championship

Durban Country Club (par 72)

First Round Leaders (South African unless stated otherwise):

64 – Retief Goosen, Alexander Cejka (GER)

65 – Charl Schwartzel, Ernie Els

66 – Jaco Ahlers, Richard Sterne, Garth Mulroy, David Dixon (ENG), Carlos del Moral (ESP), Tyrone van Aswegen

67 – David Drysdale (SCO), Martin Maritz, Louis Oosthuizen, James Kamte, Jacques Blaauw, Richard McEvoy (ENG), Branden Grace, Floris de Vries (NED), Romain Wattel (FRA)

Leading Amateurs

68 – Dylan Frittelli

69 – Dean O’Riley

71 – Ryan Dreyer, Riekus Nortje

74 – Laurie Canter (ENG)

76 – JG Claassen

77 – Coenie Bester

For all the scores (and live scoring on Saturday) click here

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