Laurie Canter (Getty Images)
Laurie Canter blasted his way through pre-qualifying for the Tshwane Open on Tuesday, carding a massive 11 under par 61 at Irene Country Club to claim the first of ten spots on offer.
“I’m most excited about getting through, but I really surprised myself by putting together a score that was so low. I’m thrilled that I could keep it going today,” he said.
The Englishman played his way through Sunshine Tour Qualifying School in January, but has battled to make it into the co-sanctioned events, whose large prize funds attract big names.
The Tshwane Open plays out over The Els Club Copperleaf and carries a €1,500,000 prize fund, which has brought the likes of 2011 Open Champion Darren Clarke and Ryder Cup captain José María Olazábal.
“My goal after Q-School was to make it into at least one of the events co-sanctioned with the European Tour,” said Canter. “I’m really excited for the chance to test myself against one of the best fields in world golf,” he said.
That field also includes Africa Open champion Darren Fichardt and last week’s Dimension Data Pro-Am champion Jaco van Zyl.
“I’ve been getting better every week,” said Van Zyl. “And I’m looking forward to the European Tour co-sanctioned event in Tshwane now that I’ve got the Di Data win behind me.”
Canter had not yet played the ‘highveld grassland’ style track at Copperleaf, but felt good about his chances after stringing together 11 birdies during pre-qualifying, four of which he made over the closing holes.
That’s not to mention that the 23 year old stood head-and-shoulders above a field of 126, which is one of the biggest pre-qualifying fields the tour has seen outside of the South African Open Championship.
“To shoot that low and to score so often really gives you a sense of ease. I feel like I can go out onto any track and score well, because the game is there when I need it,” he said.
Thabo Maseko was the first South African to secure his place after shooting an impressive 63 at Irene’s parklands layout. The young gun finished eagle, birdie to reach nine-under for the day and take hold of sole second.
The Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School winner Torben Baumann came home in seven under par 65 for sole third. He was followed by fellow rookie Shaun Smith, who finished six below the card and shared fourth with Beyers Smith, Ian Hutchings and Bradford Vaughan.
Six players finished on five under and entered a sudden-death playoff for the final three spots. Daniel Greene, Graham van der Merwe and Jacques van Tonder emerged on top and completed the Tshwane Open field.