Slow start leaves O’Donovan with work to do at Sunshine Tour Q-School

Mark McGowan

Richard O'Donovan (Photo by Tony Marshall/R&A/R&A via Getty Images)

Richie O’Donovan carded an opening round, one-over-par 72 to lie tied 40th after the opening round of the Final Qualifying Stage at Sunshine Tour Q-School.

Having safely navigated the first qualifying stage three weeks prior, the Lucan native is the only Irish man in the 98-man field teeing it up at Heron Banks Golf and River resort, just to the south of Johannesburg, and needs a top-20 finish to secure playing rights on the Sunshine Tour for the 2023/2024 season.

Starting the round with a bogey-six at the first, he’d add a double-bogey at the par-3 third to lie three-over through three, and he’d go to four-over with another bogey at the seventh and it appeared his hopes of making it through Q-School as he did in 2020 were hanging by a thread.


He’d pick up his first birdie of the day on the ninth, making the turn at +3, and picked up another stroke at the par-5 11th, though he’d give it back on the next hole. Two more birdies coming in, including a confidence-building three at the last saw him claw his way back to +1, just six behind the leader.

The pace was set by England’s James Mack and Swazilander James Pennington, both of whom fired five-under 66s on day one, and lead South African duo Marthin Scheepers and Gerhard Trytsman by a stroke, with fellow local Drikus Joubert and American Hunter Epson tied for fifth on -3.


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