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Golf | SA

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MJ races to Q-School lead

MJ Daffue returned to South Africa to compete in the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School and got off to a flying start with a first-round 63 at Schoeman Park Golf Club.

“I feel pretty good. It’s the dream start everybody wants. I felt pretty confident coming into today because I did well at PGA QSchool and fell out at second stage, that’s when I decided to come out here,” he said.

Just two days after his 24th birthday, the Pretoria local got off to a flyer after sinking his second at the par-four third. He never looked back after that and reached the clubhouse at nine-under-par.

“On three I really got my round started,” he said. “I hit a five-iron around the corner from 132 yards and it landed a little bit behind the pin. We couldn’t see the ball and when we got up there the ball was in the hole – eagle!”

The tall youngster has teed up alongside plenty of Sunshine Tour winners during his time playing college golf in America. That experience helped him to keep a steady head when he started to go deep.

The Qualifying School plays out over five rounds at Schoeman Park and Bloemfontein Golf Clubs. Players must play two rounds at each course, after which there is a cut to the leading 60 and ties. The top 30 and ties at the end of the 90-hole tournament will receive full playing cards for the 2013 Sunshine Tour season, which starts with the Telkom PGA Pro-Am on the 23rd of January.

Daffue, along with a trio of players sharing second on six-under-par, will play Bloemfontein Golf Club in the morning. He was nervous about following up such a fantastic round, yet knew that sticking to his game plan was the best option.

“It’s hard to follow up a good round with a decent round. It’s a long week and I’ll just keep plugging away over the five rounds. I have no idea what my plans are after this. I want to go back to The States and play few more tournaments before I come back here if I get my card,” he said.

Paul Bradshaw was the first to reach the clubhouse on six-under-par and move into second place. He was soon joined by JP van der Walt and amateur Bradley Sinnett.

“I’m really looking forward to the 2013 season,” said Bradshaw. “I played some events last season, but now I want a full card, and even though we’ll have to pre-qualify for a lot of events, I can’t wait to get back out there.”

Sinnett had a totally different outlook on his QSchool campaign, and said: “I’ve always dreamed of playing professional golf, but it’s hard to believe that this year I might be playing with guys I’ve looked up to for so many years,” he said.

For each of the 265 hopefuls competing this year there is still a long way to go, and yet that coveted card means just as much to every one of them.


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