Tramore’s Robin Dawson was looking on the bright side after a closing double-bogey left him four shots off the pace in the South African Amateur Stroke Play Championship.
The Equine Business graduate (22) shot out of the gates at Pecanwood Golf and Country Estate near Pretoria and was six-under par before he found an awkward lie above a bunker at the 18th and took six after a long day battling 30-degree heat.
Runner-up in the event last year, the flame-haired Munster man was happy with his round on a mixed day for a mainly rusty, eight-strong Irish contingent and looking forward to the chance to go one better this week.
“I played lovely golf,” said Dawson, who scorched to the turn in an immaculate, five-under 31, then pencilled in two birdies and a solitary bogey before his late mistake.
“Apart from the poor drive on the 18th, I am happy enough because there’s still room for improvement.”
Dawson is tied for 17th behind South Africa’s Keaton Slatter, who made nine birdies (including six in a row after an opening bogey) in an eight-under 64 to lead by a stroke from Sweden’s Ludwig Aberg and compatriots Wilco Nienaber, James du Preez and Christiaan Basson.
Kilkenny schoolboy Mark Power carded a two-under 70 on his senior international debut to share 39th with Dundalk’s Caolan Rafferty with Naas’ Jonathan Yates 57th after a 71.
Castle’s Alex Gleeson lies 70th after a 72 with Royal Dublin’s Barry Anderson shooting 74, Mallow’s James Sugrue a 76 and Massereene’s Tiarnan McLarnon a 78.
On the European Tour, The Island’s Gavin Moynihan (23) will make his first start for two months in the ISPS HANDA World Super 6 Perth at Lake Karrinyup in Australia tomorrow.
Following the traditional halfway cut, only the top 24 players after Saturday’s third round will qualify for a fast and furious series of six-hole matchplay knockout matches on Sunday.
If the matches are still undecided, players will head to the new Shootout Hole – a purpose-built 90-metre hole played from a new tee to the 18th green.
Home favourite Brett Rumford defends the title and England’s Lee Westwood is looking forward to the challenge of being aggressive from day one.
“It’s just so fast and furious, six holes, that you probably won’t have that much time to think,” Westwood said.
On the Sunshine Tour, Old Conna’s Neil O’Briain came through a pre-qualifier for one of 15 places in this week’s Eye of Africa PGA Championship when he shot 72 and then birdied the first hole of a nine-man playoff for the last five spots in the field.