Benoni Lake golfer Pieter Moolman got the early jump on the field with a five-under-par 67 before lightning storms halted play in the first Race to Q-School at The Els Club Copperleaf on Monday.

Moolman graduated the country’s premier golf development circuit in 2012 and competed on the Sunshine Tour until he lost his card at the end of 2015.

The 18-event Race to Q-School Series is aimed at getting amateurs and professionals fighting for a way back on the Sunshine Tour ready for the gruelling examination that awaits at qualifying school and Moolman was pleased to start the series on a positive note.

“When the Race to Q-School rolls around, the courses are set up tighter, the pins are tucked into more challenging positions and the competition is stronger than ever,” said the HPC Tuks Golf Academy player.

“The IGT Challenge Tour is a competitive circuit throughout the season, but once the Race to Q-School starts, the competition gets insane. Everyone is playing for top five finishes or a win, and you have to consistently shoot sub-par rounds to put yourself in contention.

“Some of the guys are heading to the Asian Tour Q-School, others to Europe. The rest of us will contest for 30 cards at the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School next March. It’s the business end of the season and to start with a low number is encouraging. Now I need two more rounds like that.”

Moolman may have to shoot low, with a strong pack chasing his tail.

Estiaan Conradie from Wingate Park and local favourite Maritz Wessels are just a shot adrift, with Money List leader Ruan Conradie only two off the pace in a four-way tie at three under.

Wessels has had lows and highs this season and will be looking to make the most of his home course advantage over the next two rounds, while Akasia’s Scheepers will also be looking to improve on a tie for 12th in his IGT Challenge Tour debut at Ebotse last month.

Korb knocked for a few months before he picked up his first victory on the country’s premier golf development circuit in the Ebotse Challenge last month. The Silver Lakes will be keen to double up on trophies, while Buitendag from the Eastern Cape will be looking to go one better than the runner-up finish he recorded in the Wingate Challenge in August.

However, the biggest threat could come from the Conradie brothers.

Estiaan collected his fourth title and first professional win at the Randpark Firethorn Challenge in May, and has moved to fourth on the official money list with seven subsequent top 10 finishes, while older brother Ruan Conradie won three of his five IGT Challenge Tour titles in his last seven starts.

The Wanna Be A Champion Academy pair teed it up at Copperleaf on the back of impressive debuts on the Big Easy Tour in Swaziland, where Ruan tied for 11th and Estiaan also upstaged some big names to finish 33rd on his own.

The first round will be resume on Tuesday morning for the 13 players who still need to complete their opening round.