Scotland’s Rory Franssen led Sunday’s first round of qualifying for this week’s Sanlam South African Amateur Championship in his first tournament appearance in South Africa. Franssen opened with an eight-under-par 64 at George Golf Club on Sunday to lead the 36-hole stroke play qualifying by three strokes. South Africa’s Aubrey Beckley continued his good form with a 67 to join Scot Craig Ross as Franssen’s nearest challengers.
Beckley comes into this tournament full of confidence following his five-stroke victory on an impressive 20 under par in last week’s Sanlam Cape Province Open at Kingswood Golf Estate. Ross was tied for the lead with three holes to play before making a double bogey on 16 and a bogey on 18. George local Franklin Manchest is in a group on four under. Although the stroke play qualifying is really not an accurate reflection of what could materialise in the main match play section of the tournament, the early presence of the Scots at the top of the leaderboard won’t go unnoticed by the rest of the field.
Scottish golfers have won three of the last five Sanlam SA Amateur Championships, and last year they achieved a double when Greig Marchbank won the Proudfoot Trophy awarded to the winner of the 36-hole stroke play qualifying and countryman Daniel Young took the Sanlam SA Amateur title. Franssen, who as a member of the Scottish Under-18 squad is making his debut on South African fairways, says: ‘Scotland has a good record out here and I’m just trying to live up to it really and learn from the other players in the Scottish team. The standard here is great. There are so many under par scores and it’s a great learning experience for me.’
Ross comes into this tournament having finished tied third in the recent African Amateur Championship at Leopard Creek, and says he’s confident about his chances this week. He says: ‘I’m hitting the ball really well and I’m looking forward to the match play. The Scottish golfers just seem to really like this event. The course is great and very different to what we’re used to. But I think what makes this such a good grounding out here is that the course conditions out on Tour are pretty much just like this. You also get out here and see the scores are low and know you’ll have to shoot some low ones if you want to win.’
Photo credit: Pieter Els