8th February 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour
Blainey bursts into contention at Killarney
JOHANNESBURG, 8 February 2017 – Gregg Blainey from England reigned in Dean O’Riley with a brilliant start in the second round of the Race to Q-School #15 to grab a share of the 36-hole lead at Killarney Country Club on Wednesday.
Play had to be called off due to flooding at the Johannesburg course on day one, but not before Matthew Spacey from Dainfern set the clubhouse target at six under, O’Riley tucked into second at five under and Blainey clocked in with a one over 71.
The 36-year-old from Wokingham was on fire on day two, though, and burst out of the blocks with four successive birdies to rocket up the leaderboard.
When Spacey hit the skids with four bogeys in a row from the sixth, Blainey kept his foot on the pedal and reeled in further gains at seven, 15 and 18. A superb six under 64 earned him a share of pole position at five under 134 with O’Riley, who returned a 70, and a shot at a maiden IGT Challenge Tour win.
Spacey’s a downward spiral ended with a 73 and a share of third with Coert Groenewald, Werner van Wyk and Martin Rohwer, while Gary Doust from Belgium carded a second best of the day 67 to join South African pair NJ Arnoldi and Dylan O’Leary at two under.
South Korea’s DK Kim and Bryce McCabe rounded out the top 10 at one under.
Blainey learned about the IGT Challenge Tour during the European Tour’s Qualifying School in 2015.
He came out to South Africa in February last year to give it a go and has been campaigning full-time on the country’s premier development golf circuit to prepare for the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School in early March.
“I quit golf for four years after two wrist surgeries and a back operation in 2008,” he said. “I was told I’d never compete again and I completed the PGA Course in England and started coaching.
“When I felt up to it, I began competing in local events and build on from there. I’d like to give it one more shot, so that’s why I came down to South Africa and began playing the IGT Challenge Tour circuit. If I make it at Q-School, I’ll play the Sunshine Tour. If I don’t, I’ll have to make some choices about the future.”
Blainey said he enjoys the competitive environment and the standard on the IGT Challenge Tour and it sure shows in his results.
He counts two third place finishes and a further four top 10 finishes in his 10 starts in the Race to Q-School Series and he was thoroughly pleased to be in contention after a tie for 44th last week.
“I went home over Christmas to visit the family and I never touched a club, so there was quite a bit of rust to shake off, but it definitely feels like the game is there now,” he said “Now I just need to ride this and get the job done.”