ABERDOUR’S Scott Crichton made a promising start in the qualifying phase of the South African Amateur Championship, won by Scottish players for the last two years.
The Fifer shot a three-under-par 69 at Johannesburg Country Club to sit joint fifth, three shots behind home pacesetter Haydn Porteous after the first of two stroke play qualifying rounds.
Crichton, who only recently joined up with other members of the Scottish squad enjoying some winter competition and practice in the Rainbow Nation, made his score with a burst of three birdies in four holes from the 12th.
Ewan Scott (St Andrews) and Jamie Savage (Cawder) both carded 71s, one fewer than Fraser McKenna of Balmore.
Porteous, the South African No 1, got off to a sizzling start with birdies at the first, third, fourth and ninth to turn in four-under. He did run up a double-bogey six at the tenth before adding four more birdies.
“This course is brutal because you really pay for bad calls and I made a stupid decision to go with driver at 10,” said the leader, who is one in front of compatriot Andrew Light and Englishman Toby Tree.
“I hit my tee shot right, into the deep stuff and I had a job to hack it out from there and get it on the green.
I three-putted from 60 feet, but it was bad course management,” added Porteous.
Troon Welbeck’s Michael Stewart won the event in 2011 while Brian Soutar of Leven claimed the coveted title 12 months ago.