Dwayne Basson walked off the 18th green on Royal Johannesburg & Kensington’s East Course a tired, but reasonably happy young man on Thursday. After pre-qualifying and doing so well to make it into the weekend in last week’s BMW SA Open at Glendower, the 23-year-old’s level par 72 in the first round of the Joburg Open left him hopeful of surviving the cut in his second straight European Tour start. The Sunshine Tour campaigner, who plays out of Kuils River GC in the Western Cape, was one of five PDI (previously disadvantaged individuals) who had to pre-qualify for this week’s R16,5-million showpiece.
He says: ‘I was first off at six-thirty. That meant my dad and I had to be up by 04h30 in order to get to the course, have breakfast and warm up on the range and putting green. It was drizzling early on and quite windy for the whole round. I was playing the back nine blind, having never seen it before, and it’s a tough course, so 72 wasn’t too bad. My dad and I are taking a bit of strain after driving up from Cape Town for the SA Open qualifier. I’ve played golf for 10 days straight days – practice rounds, pre-qualifiers, more practice rounds and tournaments. And he has been on the bag for all of them. After finishing off at Glendower on Sunday, we had a practice round at Huddle Park on Monday for Tuesday’s pre-qualifier. I have to credit my dad, who kept me positive through the round. Then we came to Royal on Wednesdayand played nine holes each on the East and West courses. That’s why I had to play the back nine blind on the East today and I’ll have to do the same at the West Course tomorrow.’ Before the BMW SA Open, Basson had never set foot on either Glendower or the two Royal courses. In his rookie season last year, he only made two cuts on the Big Easy Tour and his results boasted a slew of misses. Now he has a chance of making his second straight cut in a lucrative co-sanctioned event.
He says: ‘My highlight today was an eagle at the par five eighth where I hit drive, three-wood and then chipped in for my three from behind a bunker. I also birdied five and that is a really tricky par three and I birdied six, but four bogeys meant that I couldn’t make my goal to finish under par.’ Fellow PDI qualifiers Jacquin Hess carded a one-over-par 72 and Keenan Davidse shot 74 on the West Course, while Omar Sandys and Neezy Thubisi both returned 10-over par 82s on the East Course.
Photo credit: Ernest Blignault