JOHANNESBURG - It was a day to remember for a trio of young South African amateurs following the first round of the 107th playing of the BMW SA Open at Glendower on Thursday.
Just a few shots off the pace, at four-under-par after rounds of 68 are Garrick Higgo and Kyle McClatchie, while a further shot back at three-under par after a round of 69 is Matt Saulez.
Higgo, only 18, made four birdies in a blemish-free round, while McClatchie, 20, fired seven birdies to go with three bogeys. Twenty-year-old Saulez’ 69 included four birdies and one dropped shot.
The baby-faced Higgo from Stellenbosch, who leads the South African Golf Association’s Open Amateur rankings, not so long ago reached the semi-final of the US Junior Amateur championship and represented the International team in the inaugural Presidents Cup.
“I’m really happy with the start,” he said after his round. “I played solidly and I putted well. I must thank (former champion) Brandon Stone and Thomas Aiken, too, who I played with in a practice round ... I got some great insights into the course from them. Hopefully I can keep it going to make the weekend.”
Not a bad way to start the @BMWSAOpen!
SA's number one ranked amateur @garrick_higgo fires a bogey-free 4-under 68 to currently sit T5! Making the most out of an invite to your national open 🔥
Scores: https://t.co/BhLHmfgO1P pic.twitter.com/Ju7pgxCDQY
McClatchie, the world number 129, is the reigning English Men’s Stroke Play champion. He was over the moon with his opening round. “To be within striking distance is icing on the cake,” said the Ekurhuleni golfer who plays out of Serengeti.
“This was a much better effort than last year. I had a solid round and a bit of good luck cancelled the odd bad lie or poor tee shot,” he said. “The international experience I gained over the last year in Europe and the United States really helped me settle on this stage.
"I had a good attitude and was much more relaxed out there this year.”
Another good showing in round two and who knows ... this may just be the year for the amateurs, so watch out Charl, Branden and Dylan, the rookies are coming for you.