James gives chase in SA Mid-Am at Sun City

Elton James from Western Province is in an excellent position to avenge his 2015 loss after he came within striking distance of first round leader Derek Scullard in the suspended South African Mid-Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Sun City on Tuesday.

Scullard from Kwazulu-Natal will start the second round with a narrow one shot lead after a titanic battle for supremacy in the first round at the Gary Player Country Club.

On a day when the lead changed hands half a dozen times, the Kwambonambi Golf Club player emerged as the outright leader and – despite double bogeys at the fourth and 11th, Scullard was the only player to break par with a one under 71.

James, meanwhile mixed birdies at seven and 10 with bogeys at four and eight and got it to level par through 14 holes to join Dino De Abreu from Kempton Park in second.

Play was suspended due to fading light, which means the Westlake golfer and his playing partners Alain Norris from Silver Lakes and last year’s runner-up Shaun Stapleton from Wanderers will return in the morning to complete the first round.

Meanwhile 2017 winners Kevin Sharp and Douglas McCabe made a strong case for success at Sun City with rounds of 73 to finish fourth alongside Free State’s Almero Theron and former number one ranked Ryan Dreyer from Killarney Country Club.

Sharp, who won the Central Gauteng and Ekurhuleni Mid-Amateur Opens in back-to-back starts, offset bogeys at six, 11 and 17 with a brace of birdies at three and 10.

A bogey at six and a triple at the par-four eighth spoiled McCabe from North West’s first loop, but the Highveld Mid-Amateur Open winner took care of the deficit with birdies at 10, 14, 16 and 18. A bogey at 13, though, saw him come home in 73 strokes.

Norris, Ernest Botha, Michael Holden, Anthony Usmar, Weyers Janse van Rensburg, Sean Quigley and Ludwig Schreuder round out the top 10 at two over.

Neil Homann and Greg Sheard, the respective champions in 2012 and 2013, returned rounds of 75 to stay in touch, but South Africa’s top ranked Gerlou Roux will have to step up his bid if he hopes to become the first three-time winner of the mid-amateur flagship event.

The Bellville golfer had a disastrous start and dropped six shots in four holes on the back nine. He rallied with three birdies but a bogey at four and a double bogey finish at the tough par-five ninth saw Roux sign for a 78. He is well down the field in joint 27th.

Fellow Western Province golfer Cameron Johnston, who won the first edition at De Zalze Golf Club in 2008, opened with a 10 over 82.

Top 30 completed scores
71 Derek Scullard
72 Dino De Abreu
73 Douglas Mc Cabe; Kevin Sharp; Almero Theron; Ryan Dreyer
74 Ludwig Schreuder; Sean Quigley; Weyers Janse van Rensburg; Anthony Usmar; Michael Holden; Ernest Botha
75 Pieter Swartz; David Muller; Pierre Spies; Thinus Laas; Neil Homann; Leonard Loxton; Greg Sheard
76 Rowan du Preez; Dylan Keylock; Kalvin Parsons; Craig Collins
77 Donovan Pearse
78 Jan Combrink; Dino Di Carlo; Herman Steyn; Jauqo Jacobs; Pieter Cooper; Alex van Heerden; Shaun Mulligan; Gerlou Roux

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of GolfRSA, a SAGA and WGSA Not-For-Profit company.

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