PMB’s Greene leads rookies’ title chase

2010-12-09 00:00

MALELANE — The top four rookies on the Sunshine Tour resume their battle to chase down the Bobby Locke Trophy at this week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship at South Africa’s top golf course, Leopard Creek Country Club.

With only this tournament and next week’s SA Open remaining, Daniel Greene still leads that race after setting his foundations earlier in the year with a third-place finish at the Dimension Data Pro-Am in February. Two more top-10s, including a second-place finish at the Vodacom Business Origins of Golf event at Humewood Golf Club — where back-to-back double bogeys on the final two holes cost him his maiden win — saw him extend his lead over the chasing pack. He is currently sitting comfortably at the top with earnings of R327 890.

His great season to date has certainly paid off, earning him an invitation into this week’s tournament at Leopard Creek, which offers a prize purse totalling over R9 million.

Some spectacular play by second-placed rookie Anthony Michael has also earned him an invite this week. He also got his first season off to a great start when he finished 35th in the Africa Open, the first event of the 2010 Sunshine Tour season. This had him leading the rookie race up until the Dimension Data Pro-Am.

A fourth-place finish at the Africom Zimbabwe Open and a ninth-place finish at the BMG Classic last month have seen him get closer to Greene, but still about R130 000 behind. A top-15 finish for him this week, providing Greene misses the cut, could see him take the lead with just the 100th SA Open left in 2010.

Lying in third on the race for Rookie of the Year is Justin Harding, who is a likely candidate for overhauling the two above him, especially after his amazing season so far. Like Michael, he has had only two top-10s. However, one of those came in the form of his maiden victory at the Vodacom Business Origins of Golf Final at Oubaai in October.

That win put him in the position he is now while his second top-10 finish, a fifth place at the BMG Classic, earned him an exemption into this week’s event. A finish anywhere in the top 12 could and should see him topping the race.

This week is in fact only the sixth time that the top four rookies will tee up in the same tournament, with Andrew Georgiou the fourth player in that group.

Georgiou had three consecutive top-20 finishes at the Dimension Data Pro-Am, the Telkom PGA Championship and the Vodacom Championship, before injury forced him out of tournament play for the next eight months.

He returned to action at the Nashua Masters where he finished 53rd before following that up with a 38th place finish at the BMG Classic to give him current earnings of R124 296. He gained his spot into this week through the pre-qualifier at Irene Golf Club.

Other rookies to look out for this week are Derik Ferreira and Colin Nel, who won the 2011 Sunshine Tour Qualifying School by eight shots last week before winning the pre-qualifier on Monday with a superb 67.

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