Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hugo leads Open International Qualifying in South Africa

South Africa’s Jean Hugo is two strokes clear of the field at the halfway stage of International Final Qualifying – Africa, taking place at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club. Tomorrow, three players will win their place in the 150th Anniversary Open Championship at St Andrews this July.
After overnight storms delayed today’s start by four hours, Hugo signed for a bogey-free, six-under-par 65 around the par-71 East Course.
The 34-year-old, who has won seven times on the Sunshine Tour and once on the Challenge Tour (a 2000 victory in the Volvo Finnish Open), is bidding to play in his third Open Championship after competing at Carnoustie in 1999 and again in 2001 at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Having missed the cut at both the Africa Open and last week’s Joburg Open, it was a welcome, and timely, return to form with the putter: “I made a big putt on 10 where I started today – about 30 feet and I didn’t make anything the whole week last week, so it was ironic,” he said.
“Tomorrow, I’ve got to do the same thing. It’s one of those good things to do, especially at St Andrews – so that’s a big incentive.”
Currently occupying the other two Open Championship places available are South Africans Oliver Bekker and Darren Fichardt.
Fichardt qualified for The Open through IFQ - Africa in 2008, making his fourth Championship appearance after playing in 2000, 2002 and 2004. The 25-year-old Bekker, however, is attempting to make his first trip to The Open and is, at present, enjoying a solid run of form in South Africa, having shared 35th at the Africa Open and 30th in the Joburg Open.
Joost Luiten of the Netherlands and South Africans Warren Abery, Alan Michell and Douglas McGuigan are a further two back on two-under.
With four more on one-under and a further nine on level-par, the three coveted Open places are still within reach of a large number of players.
A field of 52 players is contesting the 36 holes of International Final Qualifying at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club with the top three after tomorrow’s second round earning a place at the 150th Anniversary Open Championship at St Andrews on 15 – 18 July.
Full first-round hole-by-hole scores can be found on



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