Lombard slips into top 10 at St Andrews

South Africa’s Zander Lombard was surprised to find himself inside the top 10 and not too far out of range from first round leader, Ryan Evans, at the St Andrews Links Trophy in Scotland on Friday.

Just a week after beating South Africa’s number one player Haydn Porteous for the KwaZulu-Natal Amateur Championship title, the country’s number two ranked amateur navigated the Old Course at St Andrews in 71 shots to finish just five strokes behind the English pacesetter.

The 18-year-old Tshwane golfer got off to the worst possible start when he double bogeyed the first hole, but Lombard claimed back a shot with a birdie at the third and parred his way to the turn to complete the front nine in one over.

He dipped into red numbers for the first time with back-to-back birdies at 11 and 12 and cancelled a bogey at the 13th with a fourth birdie at the 15th. Lombard parred the last three holes to join the XX-man bus tied for ninth alongside former Sanlam SA Amateur Champion Brian Soutar from Scotland, among others.

“I expected the local golfers to do well, because there wasn’t too much wind to start with,” Lombard said. “I figured I would be somewhere around the middle of the field, so to be in the top 10 is a nice surprise. The wind started pumping and I definitely didn’t expect someone to shoot a 66 in that wind.

“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, though, because the Brits thrive in the wind. I was disappointed with that double-bogey at the first, but I regrouped well. Overall, it was a good round and I’m happy with the start I made.”

Fancourt’s Tom Watson carded an opening 76. The 16-year-old Southern Cape golfer, who is not related to his famed Major winner namesake from the United States, is tied for 108th on four over and two shots ahead of Porteous.

The SA number one has reeled in eight victories at home this season including the KwaZulu-Natal Amateur Stroke Play Qualifier a fortnight ago, but the 18-year-old Modderfontein golfer is in deep trouble after an opening eight under 80.

Porteous, who intends to turn professional after the US Amateur Championship in July, is hovering around the lower echelons of the leaderboard in a tie for Xx and will have to pull out all the stops if he hopes to extend his stay at St Andrews.

The St Andrews Links Trophy, which was first played in 1989 and has never been won by a South African, is considered one the most prestigious amateur events on the British golfing calendar. It is the final major event in Europe leading up to the British Amateur Championship, which will be played at Royal Cinque Ports from June 17th.

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