Southern Cape amateur Cameron Moralee joined some heady company at the 2016 BMW SA Open proudly hosted by City of Ekurhuleni after finishing the suspended first round at Glendower Golf Club on Friday morning.
The GOLF RSA National Squad member carded a three-under-par 69 to grab a share of 11th alongside six-time European Tour champion Branden Grace and two-time Major winner Retief Goosen, among others.
Moralee, who offset three bogeys with half-a-dozen gains, said his debut in the South African Golf Association’s flagship event was unbelievable.
“I was quite surprised that I wasn’t nervous at all at the start, but I think that had a lot to do with my two playing partners,” the KeNako Academy member said.
“I played with Darren Lloyd from South Africa and Lasse Jensen from Denmark and they really helped me to ease into the first round. It was great to get through the first hole with a par, but I was a little disappointed when I bogeyed the 11th.
“I picked up some birdies at 13, 15 and 17 and dropped another one at 17, but I was happy to turn under par. I was still one under when they suspended play for the storm that hit yesterday.”
Moralee bogeyed five, but rallied with birdies at seven and eight to lead the nine-strong amateur contingent at this year’s championship.
“This is really the kind of start I was gunning for and hopefully I can take advantage of the cool conditions this morning to keep myself on the positive side of the cut,” he said.
“It took me a few holes to get used to the speed of the greens and I kept it in play pretty well, but I did miss a few fairways, so that will be something to try and avoid today.”
Central Gauteng’s David Meyers also broke par with a 71, while Herman Loubser from Boland, Gauteng North’s Albert Venter and Jade Buitendag from Southern Cape all came home in two over 74.
Teaghan Gauche lamented four three-putts that saw him close with a 75, while reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion Daniel Young from Scotland signed for a 79 and Andre Nel from Southern Cape returned an 81.
Meyers had a shocking week at the SA Inter-Provincial at Glendower in September and was apprehensive ahead of his debut in the world’s second oldest Open championship.
“I no idea what to expect this week and I was quite nervous before the first tee shot, so I guess no surprise that I dropped at the first,” he said.
“It really helped that I played with Tristen and Albert and I settled down pretty quickly. I managed to get to the ninth with pars and the birdie at nine was just perfect before the turn.”
Meyers birdied 12 and 13 and offset a bogey at 14 with birdie at 15.
“I dropped a shot at 16 but managed to finish with two pars this morning, and I’m pretty pleased that I still managed to shoot below par,” the Dainfern golfer said.
“I still can’t believe what they have achieved with this course. The greens are sublime and playing fast and the rough around the greens are brutal. I didn’t think the course would be ready when we were here in September, but it’s in fantastic condition. I’m just glad the rough is not as penal as it was last year. I just need to keep the bogeys to a minimum today to make sure I make the weekend.”
With the cut projection currently at one under, Moralee and Meyers are in good shape to challenge for the Freddie Tait Cup, but the rest of the amateur contingent will have to pull out all the stops to join the chase at the weekend.