12th April 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour
Bremner banks back-to-back IGT titles
(PHOTO – Merrick Bremner; credit CJ du Plooy)
JOHANNESBURG, 12 April 2017 – Merrick Bremner fended off the challenges of Musiwalo Nethunzwi and 2017 Eye of Africa PGA Championship winner Eric van Rooyen to claim successive titles on the IGT Challenge Tour with a wire-to-wire performance in the Kyalami Challenge.
The five-time Sunshine Tour champion came under pressure over the first nine holes of Kyalami Country Club on Wednesday, but Bremner ‘got his game on’ after the turn to close out a two stroke victory at 15 under 201 with a final round 69.
“I had a couple of birdie chances on the front nine, but I didn’t capitalize,” said Bremner, who started the last day two shots ahead of Nethunzwi and four clear of Van Rooyen.
“I was annoyed when I three-putted the first par five and then I had another three-putt bogey at the eighth. I hit my first putt too hard, but the second looked like it was going to drop all the way and it broke left just before the hole.
“Muzi caught up to me with birdies at two and five, but he dropped seven and I birdied nine to turn with a one shot lead. Eric was up ahead at 10 under. I’ve been at this game a long time, though, and I knew if I stayed patient and kept putting myself in good positions, the birdies would come.”
Bremner said it was hard not to be impressed by Nethunzwi from the Gary Player Class of 2017.
“I have to say this for Muzi; the kid’s got a helluva game,” said the Investec Property player.
“He hits it well off the tee and he strikes his irons beautifully and his course management was really impressive. When he knocked it to two feet at 11 for birdie, I knew he wasn’t going away. I had a 40-footer for birdie and I drained it and right there the momentum shifted. I wasn’t going to give up without a fight and that putt got me into game mode.”
Meanwhile Van Rooyen – playing ahead of the final group – parred the first three holes on the back nine and birdied 13 to move to 11 under. Bremner and Nethunzwi also birdied the par five and all three players played 14, 15 and 16 in pars.
Van Rooyen picked up a second eagle on the day at the par-five 18th and signed for a 67 to set clubhouse target at 13 under. However, when Nethunzwi missed a birdie chance at the par-three 17 and Bremner boxed a left-to-right curler from 20 feet for birdie to move to 15 under, the writing was on the wall.
“Muzi was two shots back playing 18 and the pressure was on him, but his inexperience in closing out tournaments showed when he tried to hit the green with a three-wood to give himself a chance for eagle,” said Bremner.
“Sam Snead said you should forget your opponents and always play against par. I didn’t think about Muzi at the last hole; with a two shot lead, I was always going to play for par. He tried to beat me, not the course. I think he learned a good lesson. He definitely has the potential to go far in this game but you have to pay your school fees.
“I’m really happy with the two wins right before we travel to the Zimbabwe Open. The last three weeks on the IGT Challenge Tour has been really productive to get my game into shape and to sharpen my focus. It’s nice to start the African Leg with some confidence.”
A final round 69 netted Nethunzwi a share of second, which marks his best finish to date on the country’s premier golf development circuit.
Boland golfer Herman Loubser, who won the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School in March, racked up four birdies in a row from 13 on his way to setting the low round of the day. His 67 earned Loubser a share of fifth at 10 under 206 with Tyron McComb, who signed for a final round 71.