Divan Gerber showed that confidence has done for his game with a superb seven-under-par 65 to lead 10 qualifiers into this week’s R500,000 Platinum Classic presented by UD Trucks.
Gerber won his first professional tournament at the Sunshine Big Easy Tour event at Maccauvlei last year, adding to three other top-10 finishes on the ‘nursery’ circuit of the Sunshine Tour.
His qualifying round on the difficult Irene Country Club layout – it was lush with the rough up – was good enough to hold off Callie Swart by a stroke, with five other players sharing third on five-under-par 67.
Rookie Danie van Tonder and Michael du Toit beat Derick Petersen and Stuart Clark in a playoff for the remaining two spots after the quartet all finished at four-under-par 68.
Gerber has had a solid start to his 2012 season with a good share of 39th place in the Telkom PGA Championship where he followed two fine opening rounds of 69 with a pair of 73s. He’s also managed another top 10 on the Big Easy Tour when he finished eighth in the season opener at Houghton.
With defending champion Hennie Otto not in the field as he plays in Morocco on the European Tour, and last year’s runner-up Darren Fichardt also not playing, the trio who shared third last year will be the players with whom Gerber will have to contend - Allan Versfeld, Brandon Pieters and Merrick Bremner.
Versfeld, who was the Sunshine Tour rookie of the year in 2012, closed with an eight-under-par 64 in the Telkom PGA Championship, and that signalled a return to the kind of form which saw him pull off six top-10 finishes on last year’s Sunshine Tour.
Gerber will also have to deal with the likes of Warren Abery, who was right in contention with a pair of 66s in the first two rounds last year, before a frustrating final 72 saw him slip out of reach of a flying Otto who closed with a 67.