ZIMBABWEAN professional golfer Ryan Cairns will be hoping for a positive start to the year when he tees off in the prestigious South African Open Championship at Glendower Golf Club in Johannesburg today.
Cairns endured a frustrating season on the Sunshine Tour last year, spending almost the entire second half of the season sidelined with a wrist injury.
Despite the injury setbacks the 30-year-old golfer, still managed
to grind out some crucial performances, with his best season finish coming at the Zambia Sugar Open where he finished tied for eighth position.
Cairns, who has managed to make his mark on the pinnacle of professional golf in Africa, will be the only local golfer in the main field of the European Tour co-sanctioned event after six other local golfers failed to make the grade during Tuesday’s pre-qualifiers.
The five namely, Sean Farrell, Dale Howie, Mark Williams, William Lake, Greg Bentley, Sheldon Steyn were part of the large group of 343 golfers who teed off at three different clubs on Tuesday in the hopes of earning one of 14 spots at the 104th South African Open Championship.
South Africa-based Sean Farrell came very close to joining Cairns in the star studded field after carding a solid three-under par round of 69 at Tuesday’ pre-qualifying round at Irene Golf Club.
Farrell, who had a successful amateur career at Virginia Tech University in the 90s, narrowly missed out by a single shot despite a solid perfomance on his comeback to competitive golf after a lengthy absence.
The seasoned golfer hot seven birdies, four bogeys and saved par on seven occasions to finish in a tie for sixth position, just three places below the cutline.
The other Zimbabwean in the field at Irene Golf Club, William Lake
also failed to make the grade after carding a disappointing eight-over par 80.
In the other qualifying site at Zwartkop Country Club, there was also no joy for another Zimbabwean hopeful as Sheldon Steyn missed out on a slot after level par round of 71.
Bulawayo-born Mark Williams also missed out after finishing tied for ninth position on two-under par 70 as they were just five spots on offer at the pre-qualifier held at Kempton Park Golf Club.
Greg Bentley also missed out after finishing tied for position 29 on one-over par 73 leaving Cairns as Zimbabwe’s lone representative in the prestigious event.