Amateur Christiaan Burke laid down an early marker on Monday in the first round of the IGT Big Easy Tour’s Chase to the Sunshine Tour Final at Irene Country Club when he carded a bogey-free eight-under-par 64.
He made eight birdies in his round to take a one-stroke lead from another amateur, Kyle de Beer. Ryan Tipping was in third with a six-under-par 66, and Franklin Manchest was in fourth after he signed for a 67. There were four players in a share of fifth on four-under-par 68, including Leon Vorster and Jason Froneman.
Burke, Manchest, Froneman, Tipping and Vorster are all inside the top 10 of the Chase to the Sunshine Tour Order of Merit, and need good finishes at Irene this week to get into the top three who will earn their Sunshine Tour cards. The Order of Merit is led by Kyle McClatchie, with Michael Kok in second and amateur Casey Jarvis in third.
Kok was in a share of ninth after the first round at Irene after he posted a three-under-par 69. Jarvis was on two-under, and McClatchie on one-over. Herman Loubser, who is in fifth on the Order of Merit, carded an opening level-par 72 for a share of 16th.
For Burke, who has three wins to his credit in 2021 on the circuit, it will be a question of taking the momentum he picked up with four consecutive birdies to finish his round on Monday and using that to stay ahead of the pack.