1st July 2014 | IGT Challenge Tour
Bekker forges ahead at last IGT Race to USA
TSHWANE, 1 July 2014 – One expected the big guns to make some noise as the IGT Tour enters the final straight of the first Race to the USA series, but it was TJ Bekker, amateur Rupert Kaminski and Sunshine Ladies Tour regular Alana van Greuning who rose to the challenge in the Race to the USA Championship at Centurion Country Club on Tuesday.
Bekker, who plays out of Elements Private Golf Reserve, set the target at five-under-par 67, while Parkview’s Kaminski slipped into second with a two-eagle 68.
Van Greuning enjoyed a run of three birdies from the 15th en route to a 70 and a share of third with Conway Kunneke, Rae Mackie and amateur Stephan Erasmus.
Pre-tournament favourites Huyn Park from Korea and Michael Scholz were well down the leaderboard, parked in the bus of 11 players at two under.
The current Race to the USA Order of Merit leader had three birdies and a pair of bogeys, while third ranked Scholz negated a five birdie advantage with a double at the par-four fourth and two bogeys on the back nine.
Bekker, meanwhile, reeled in five birdies and an eagle-three at the 12th to dip to a flawless seven under, but a six at the par-four 18th opened the door for recent Glacier Junior Series winner Kaminski to close the gap to one shot.
The Limpopo pro was ambivalent about the double, though.
“I hit it straight in the water and took the two on the nose,” said the 27-year-old from Potgietersrus.
“I just reloaded, hit it on the green for two and two-putted.
“You’re always going to have a bad shot somewhere. I hit the ball great all day and I only had 27 putts, so I’m not too worried about one shot.”
Bekker played a lot of his amateur golf at Centurion and tied for sixth on the Big Easy Tour at the same venue in April.
“I feel very comfortable at this layout,” said Bekker. “The IGT Tour guys always try to challenge us and they set the course up exactly the way it used to be set up for the Sunshine Tour’s Telkom PGA Pro-am.
“We played off the back tips and the pin positions were very challenging. I guess a little inside knowledge of the course didn’t hurt, because if you hit it on the right side of the hole, the birdies are there for the taking.”
Bekker credited English pro Neil Cheetham for his recent run of good form.
“Neil brought TrackMan out to South Africa and we began working on the few things in my swing, especially my tendency to hit a few duff shots during a round.
“If I can shoot these kind of scores and still have one bad shot, I’m definitely on the right track. You have to shoot under par and you have to have confidence to hack it on the pro circuit.
“That’s what makes these IGT Tour events so great, because you can keep your form going between events and work on things that need tweaking.”
FIRST ROUND SCORES
67 – TJ Bekker
68 – Rupert Kaminski (AMA)
70 – Jacques de Villiers, Conway Kunneke, Alana van Greuning, Rae Mackie, Stephan Erasmus (AMA)
71 – Hyun Park KOR, Michael Scholz, Herman Minnie, Calvin Caldeira (AMA), Romano Saincic, Tudor Bismark ZIM (AMA), Terence Boardman, Coert Groenewald, James Searson, Pierre Viviers, Brendan De Lange
72 – Lean Boezaart, Russel Franz, Rob Menzies ENG, Lucas Steyn
73 – Jason Roets (AMA), Wesley Baptiste (AMA), Antonio Rosado POR, Hano van der Walt, Arno Pretorius (AMA), Duane Keun, Pieter Kruger, Kirsten Campbell (AMA), Gareth Akers (AMA), Marthin Scheepers (AMA), Justin Godfrey (AMA)
74 – JC van Dommelen, Tyron Mc Comb, Jason Diab (AMA), Wayne Stroebel, Henk Visser, Albert Visser (AMA)
75 – Robert Herselman, Willie Steyn, Murray Smit, Pieter Van der Linde (AMA), Ryan Wingrove (AMA)
76 – Julian de Wet (AMA), Jonathan Waschefort, Mike Quinn, Andre Pistorius, Shaun van Tonder, CJ Levey (AMA), Byron Garvie, Lloyd Herbst (AMA)
77 – Jerry Steyn, Christiaan Pretorius, Theodor Oosthuizen (AMA), Michael Van Hoeck (AMA), Benjamin Cobbett (AMA)
78 – Niel Meyer (AMA), Keegan Steyn (AMA), Khaya Jika, Jacqui Akers (AMA)
79 – Bryce Burke USA (AMA), Wayne du Toit, Shaun Bernstein (AMA)
80 – Michael Jooste (AMA), Quintin Crause (AMA)
81 – Gabriel Erasmus
82 – Alwyn Vorster
83 – Werner Van Niekerk, Morne Du Plessis (AMA)
92 – Gustav Erasmus