Waring on track to make return to Royal Birkdale
Paul Waring, Dean Burmester and Darren Fichardt currently hold the three qualifying places for The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale with the second round of the rain-affected Joburg Open still to be completed at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club.
Both Waring and Burmester will resume playing the second round at 7:00 am on Saturday morning after poor light stopped play at 6.40pm local time on Friday evening.
Several players were left out on the course, a knock-on effect of the rain delayed first round which did not resume until 9am on Friday morning. 98 players returned to the venue to finish the first round after play was suspended at 2.35pm yesterday afternoon due to a water-logged course.
Waring, who is aiming to make a return to playing in The Open for the first time since it was played at Royal Birkdale in 2008, currently leads the championship on 12-under-par having reached the 12th hole on the West Course. The Englishman carded five birdies and leads Burmester by one shot.
Bidding to make his debut in The Open in July, Burmester was in blistering form on the East Course, draining four birdies in a row on the 8th, 9th, 10 and 11th in addition to shots picked up on the 1st and 6th holes earlier in the round.
The South African, whose tied-3rd finish in the 2015 Tshwane Open remains his best professional tournament performance, will look to build on his current position in joint second place on 11-under-par when he resumes his second round on the 15th hole.
Fichardt, a five-time winner on the European Tour has the luxury of being the leader in the clubhouse after an excellent round of 66 earlier today.
The South African went out in 31 on the East Course, playing superbly to card four birdies and an eagle during a prolific run. Despite a bogey on the 10th hole, the former Africa Open champion played steady throughout the remainder of the back nine and retrieved the dropped shot with a birdie at the final hole of the round.
The South African, who has won twelve titles on the Sunshine Tour, is bidding to make his sixth appearance in The Open and for the first time since 2010, when fellow countryman Louis Oosthuizen won the Championship at St Andrews.
"I got off to a great start”, said Fichardt. “I knew it was going to play long and I needed to get off to a good start and that I did.
"I got to six under pretty quickly - after eight I was six under so I was very happy about that start. Unfortunately, I made a bogey on the tenth and then birdied the 18th, so I ended off well. But I am very happy with 66.”
Jacques Kruyswijk featured among the group of players who were out early in the day to complete the opening round and played excellent golf to card a 63 on the West Course which included three birdies and an eagle on the turn for home.
The South African, whose best finish on the European Tour is tied-21st at the BMW South Africa Open in 2016, played a steadier second round on the East Course this afternoon, around of 70, to finish on 10-under-par, one shot further back.
Defending champion Haydn Porteous is among a group of players still in contention on nine-under-par.
The Open Qualifying Series gives players the chance to qualify for golf’s most international major championship at leading Tour events around the world.
Three players, who finish in the top 10 and ties at the Joburg Open who are not already exempt, will book a spot in The 146th Open at Royal Birkdale from 16-23 July.