The agony of pre-qualifying
For non-exempt players it’s tough having to pre-qualify for big tournaments, because with so few spots available you need special low rounds just to get into these events. Spare a thought for Jason Froneman, who had 64 at Benoni CC to qualify for the SA Open, only to miss the cut with 74-78, and then 65 at Huddle Park to qualify for the Joburg Open, only to again miss the cut with 68-74.
Best qualifying round of the year was a 10-under 62 at Woodhill by Zimbabwean Scott Vincent which got him into the Mauritius Open. Vincent did himself proud at Anahita by finishing T-18 and earning R200 000. Best round of the year Ockie Strydom had five top-3 finishes in 2016, but the highlight of the 32-yearold’s year was a remarkable 11-under-par 61 in the final round of the Vodacom Origins event at Simola in Knysna. Having opened the tournament 74-68, he started the final round 10 shots behind leader Justin Harding. He birdied the last four holes to make it 11 birdies for the round, and got to within a shot of Harding to finish second on his own. Biggest comeback to win Swede Christofer Blomstrand, a 25-year-old rookie on tour who got in through the Q School, was eight shots behind 54-hole leader James Kamte going into the final round of the Zambia Sugar Open at Lusaka Golf Club. He had nine birdies and an eagle in a closing 10under 63 to overtake 16 players and win by three shots. Other players who shot 63 to win in the final round were Charl Schwartzel at the Tshwane Open, and Merrick Bremner at the Lombard Insurance Classic. Bremner was six shots back after 36 holes, and won in a playoff. Toughest course on tour in 2016? Anahita at the Mauritius Open, where the average score over 72 holes with a European Tour quality field was 74.92, two shots more difficult than Glendower for the SA Open at 72.97. The cut was made on +6. Breaking 70 was a massive achievement, with only 12 scores in the 60s in windy conditions on the Ernie Els design. Only the first two finishers were under par for 72 holes. Easiest on tour? No contest. The Royal Swazi Spa at the Lombard Insurance Classic, averaging 70.33.