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Auret in the hunt at SA Mid-Amateur

07 May 2013

Ekurhuleni’s Tyrol Auret carded an opening two-under-par 70 at Stellenbosch Golf Club to finish one shot of the pace from local favourite Greg Sheard in the first round of the South African Mid-Amateur Stroke Play Championship, sponsored by Volvo; credit

Greg Sheard fired an opening three-under-par 69 at Stellenbosch Golf Club on Tuesday to pull clear of the logjam and take pole position in the first round of the SA Mid-Amateur Stroke Play Championship.

The De Zalze golfer has a slender one shot lead from former professional Tyrol Auret from Ebotse, Jan Delport from State Mines and Milnerton’s Giles Buchanan while Graeme Watson, the country’s top ranked mid-amateur and three time champion this season, lurks just two shots behind in a tie for fifth with Philip Heyns from Middelburg Golf Club.

Sheard said practice, patience and a great caddy on the bag made all the difference to his round.

“I played the course quite a few times in the last three weeks, so I felt comfortable coming into the first round,” the 39-year-old said.  “I started with a drop at the 10th, but I managed to up and down for pars at the next two holes and made a birdie at the 13th to cancel the bogey. I had another couple of up-and-downs to turn in level par, but I closed quite strongly with three birdies at my last five holes.

“My dad Allan, who is 72, was one the bag and it was great having him around to give me that added encouragement.”

The Western Province Mid-Amateur captain said it felt good to get a solid start to his campaign.

“It’s good to have your nose in front this early in the tournament. You can’t win a tournament in the first round, but you can certainly mess things up for yourself with a bad start. I’m glad to be in contention, especially against such a strong line-up.”

Auret went off in a morning and with a strong wind to contend with, enjoyed a slightly more adventurous round with three birdies, three bogeys and an eagle at the par-five 12th.

“We had quite a windy start this morning and that just made an already tough lay-out just more challenging to contend with,” the country’s number two ranked player explained. “It was about a one-and-half club wind, so the first couple of holes were pretty tough to get through. The wind was still pushing when we turned. The first couple of holes on the back nine and the closing holes were particularly tough to navigate, particularly because the greens had dried out, as well.

“I have to say, tough, this course is a great test and it lives up to its reputation. I haven’t played here before, but I can see what the hype is about. I thoroughly enjoyed my first round out there.”

After runner-up finishes in the Ekurhuleni Mid-Amateur and the Free State & Northern Cape Mid-Amateur Opens, Auret is aiming for the title and is quite happy to use a little luck when it comes his way.

“I hugged the left side of the fairway with my tee shot at the 12th and pulled my second over the trees, but what a lucky pull,” he said. “The ball landed just three feet from the pin and I could knock it in for eagle.  It’s only the first round, but any time you can start by getting yourself into contention, you’re giving yourself a chance to win.

Defending champion Neil Homann endured a dismal opening nine with bogeys at the first, third and ninth holes and a double bogey at the par-four sixth to turn five over. After dropping another two shots at the 10th, the 43-year-old Wanderers golfer birdied the 12th and parred his way to the 18th, where he knocked in a testy putt for birdie and an opening five-over-par 77.

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For second round tee-times, click HERE

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