18th May 2015 | Big Easy IGT Golf

Palmer under pressure at CA Academy Classic

Wingate18-20MayDay1 (132)Photo – Michael Palmer; credit CJ du Plooy)

TSHWANE, 18 May 2015 – Michael Palmer fired an opening six-under-par 66 for a slim one-shot lead on a packed leaderboard in the IGT Tour’s CA Academy Classic on Monday.

The 25-year-old, who has racked up two victories so far this season, covered the front nine at Wingate Park Country Club in 31 strokes. He mixed three birdies with a bogey on the back nine to finish ahead of Ekurhuleni’s Chris Pretorius.

Top ranked South African amateur Carrie Park from Gauteng North is the only rose among the thorns in the bus at three under 69 that also includes professionals Khaya Jika, Pieter Kruger, Paul de Beer, Duane Keun, Hennie du Plessis and Bryandrew Roelofsz, another a two-time champion on the country’s premier development Tour in 2015 and fellow amateur Siphiwe Siphayi.

Palmer enjoyed a birdie-birdie start and gathered gains at the seventh and ninth to turn four under. He collected another pair of birdies at 12 and 13, and erased the drop at 14th with a birdie finish.

“Other than a poor bump-and-run at the par-three, I was pretty solid throughout,” said Palmer, a double graduate from the Oklahoma City University, who returned to South Africa in December.

“It can always be better, though. Hopefully I can sink a few more putts in the second round.”

Pretorius also got off to a fast start with a run of three birdies and added number four at the par-three eighth to match Palmer at the turn. He bogeyed the 11th, but minimized the damage with a brace of birdies at 13 and 14.

“I hit it in the trees left and I caught a hard bounce on the green with my approach and the ball flew over the green,” the 25-year-old explained.

“It’s really hard to up-and-down from that spot, so I just chipped it on, two-putted and took my punishment. I wasted a birdie chance at the par-five 15th with a three putt, so I’ll be looking for a birdie there tomorrow.”

The Benoni player has backup up a solid start to his third IGT Tour season with top 10 finishes in the Jeandre Fourie Classic and Raw Golf School Classic and came into the event at Wingate Park on the back of a tie for 16th in the Autumn Swing Challenge at ERMP Golf Club last week.

“I made it my goal to qualify for the Sunshine Tour at the end of this season, so I’m taking things really seriously this year,” Pretorius said.

“I want to win at least two events this season in preparation for the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School, but I am also working hard with my coach, John Dixon over at The Els Club Copperleaf, to reach better consistency.

“This is a really nice position to be in so early in the tournament, because it feels like I’ve been building up to this. Hopefully I can maintain this form over the next two rounds.”

FIRST ROUND SCORES

66 – Michael Palmer

67 – Christiaan Pretorius

69 – Khaya Jika, Carrie Park (AMA), Bryandrew Roelofsz, Siphiwe Siphayi (AMA), Pieter Kruger, Paul De Beer, Duane Keun, Hennie Du Plessis

71 – Dwayne Coetzee, Jason Diab, Ruan Huysamen NAM, Andi Dill (AMA), Gideon Pienaar

72 – David McIntyre (AMA), Bryn Flanagan, Michael Armstrong (AMA)

73 – Reynhard Reynecke (AMA), Peetie Van Der Merwe (AMA), Sheldon Steyn (ZIM), Conway Kunneke, Divan Marais (AMA)

74 – Slade Fick (AMA), Glen de Waal NAM, Wesley Baptiste (AMA), NJ Arnoldi, Stephan Erasmus (AMA), Michael Kok (AMA), Herman Minnie, Nobuhle Dlamini (SWA), Patrick Thompson

75 – Gareth Akers (AMA), Jandre Fullard (AMA), CJ Levey (AMA), Simon Kruger (AMA), Jaco Mouton, Brett Liddle, Michael Pienaar (AMA)

76 – Sean Coomer (AMA), TJ Bekker, Rikus Oosthuizen (AMA), Rhoan Gardiner, Morne Wolmarans (AMA), Joubert Van Eeden (AMA), Matthew Vogel, Johan Van Der Wath, Matt Wollman (AMA)

77 – Angelo Marques (AMA), David Ashley (AMA), Jacques de Villiers, Dougie Meijer, Devan Payne (AMA), Stephan De Beer, Brendan Britten NAM

78 – Tumelo Molloyi (AMA), Lourens Du Plessis, Paul Cuningham, Cole Dodgen (AMA)

79 – Jean-Francois Erasmus (AMA), Victor Kau, Niel Meyer, Shingirirayi Shumba ZIM

80 – Tommie Brits (AMA), Jason Ackerman (AMA), Werner Lourens (AMA), David Lamprecht, Matthew Adams (AMA), Marc De Jager (AMA)

81 – Vincent Mienie (AMA), Barend Herbst (AMA), Norman Beggs, Etzard Grimbeek (AMA), Danie Pretorius, Gerrit Van Niekerk (AMA)

82 – Francois Mouton (AMA), Pedro August, Russel Franz, Amerigo Renieri (AMA)

83 – Alex Krebs (AMA), JP Schmidt (AMA), Daniel Steenkamp (AMA)

84 – Juan De Bruin (AMA), Tung-Nan Lin (AMA) TWN

85 – Clayton Ackermann (AMA), Zander Potgieter (AMA)

86 – Melchior Raath (AMA)

87 – Johan Buys (AMA), Justin Levy NLD

88 – Sam Metcalfe (AMA), Drickus Coetzer (AMA)

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