Gauche sets SA pace at Amateur Championship
Wingate Park’s Teagan Gauche heads the 10-strong group of South Africans after the first round of the weather-interrupted Amateur Championship at Royal Portrush and nearby Portstewart in Northern Ireland.
The 21-year-old Tuks HPC student offset two bogeys with four birdies for an opening two-under-par 69 at Portstewart Golf Club to finish within striking distance of first round leader, Daniel Brown.
The Englishman set the first round target at four-under-par 66 at Royal Portrush, while his compatriot Ryan Evens and Scotland’s Liam Johnston carded 68s to hit the front at Portstewart.
However, persistent fog severely interrupted play at one of the world’s most prestigious championships.
Thick fog enveloped both courses on Tuesday, resulting in an eight hour delay at Royal Portrush and a four and a half hour delay at Portstewart. With second round action ruined, the players were left even more frustrated after further delays were called for as the fog persisted on Wednesday morning.
Zander Lombard, NJ Arnoldi and James du Preez are the next best placed South Africans.
Pretoria’s Lombard eagled the second and birdied the third at Royal Portrush, but gave back two shots with back-to-back bogeys at the eighth and ninth. He dropped another shot at the 14th, but rallied with a birdie at 18th to sign for a one-under-par 69.
Ekurhuleni’s Arnoldi reeled in two birdies on each nine, but dropped five shots to close with a three-over-par 74 at Portstewart.
Meanwhile Du Preez from Pretoria came home in 73 strokes at Port Stewart.
Unless the predicted cut at four over moves further south, reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Thriston Lawrence could make an early departure at five-over-par 146. The recent Lytham Trophy champion carded a 74 at Royal Portrush and a 72 at Port Stewart.
Ekurhuleni’s Christiaan Bezuidenhout, will definitely miss the cut after a hefty eight over 78 at Royal Portrush effectively ruined his tournament.
The Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member fought bravely at Portstewart, but wiped out a birdie and an eagle with four costly bogeys for a 73 that dropped the current SA number one to 10-over-par 151.
Louis Taylor will need a solid second round performance at Royal Portrush to dip below the cut after his opening 76 at Port Stewart, while Victor Lange and Jason Smith both need to shoot red numbers if they hope to extend their stay in Ulster.
Lange returned an 82 at Portstewart, while reigning SA Stroke Play champion Smith carded an opening 82 at Royal Portrush.
The final South African in the mix, Martin Rohwer, sits at eight-over-par 149 after a 76 at Portrush and a 73 at Port Stewart.
In addition to the 10 South Africans competing, the 119th edition of Europe’s most prestigious amateur championship drew 288 competitors from as far afield as South America, Mexico, New Zealand and Australia.
The collated scores from the two rounds will decide the top 64 players, who will take part in the four days of match play that determines the champion on Saturday.
Victory would be a major fillip to any aspiring professional’s career as the winner will gain entry to both next month’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake and the 2015 U.S Open, as well as an expected invitation to The Masters next spring.
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association.