Sam Hutsby’s return to the European Tour has given him something to build on in this week’s Joburg Open.
The 23-year-old former Lee-on-the-Solent man landed a decent pay cheque in his first outing of the campaign after finishing in a tie for 54th place at the Africa Open last weekend.
Hutsby posted a level-par opening round in ideal scoring conditions to find himself way down the field.
But he hit back with a superb 65 in his second round to rocket up the leaderboard to tie for 24th and breeze through the halfway cut.
In a day when the putts fell at regular intervals, Hutsby bagged five birdies and two eagles, with just one bogey on the card for a blistering eight-under par round.
While he failed to build on his stunning second round by failing to shoot another low score, he did keep things ticking along with a one-under-par steady display in round three.
But when he netted four birdies on the front nine of his final round, he looked well on course for a big finish and a bumper pay day.
Unfortunately, an early bogey and then a double bogey halted his momentum on the back nine and he eventually signed for another one-under-par 72.
But it was a solid return to the European elite after coming through qualifying school in December.
And it will have given him confidence for the campaign ahead.
Former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen successfully defended his crown with a winning score of 27-under par – 17 strokes clear of Hutsby’s 10-under-par total.
And the tour moves on to Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club this week, with US Masters champion Charl Schwartzel bidding to become only the sixth player in history to win the same official European Tour event in three consecutive years.
Only Ian Woosnam, Sir Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie, Ernie Els and Tiger Woods have achieved the feat.
Another former major winner, Retief Goosen, who claimed third place last week, is also in the field.
The field plays the first 36 holes over the east course and west course before the top 65 players and ties head into weekend battle for the lion’s share of the 1.3m euro prize fund.