15th March 2016 | IGT Challenge Tour
Cayeux and Park a happy double act at Irene Champs
TSHWANE, 15 March 2016 – Rookie Carrie Park was in a cheerful mood after a four under 68 earned her a share of seventh and nine-time Sunshine Tour winner Marc Cayeux was laughing after he grabbed a seat on the bus at eight under at the Irene Championship on Tuesday.
Park is five shots off the pace and Cayeux just four behind joint leaders Russel Franz and CJ du Plessis, who grabbed pole position at 12 under 132 with respective rounds of 64 and 66.
“Oh man but it feels great to be playing again, even if the kids are hitting it miles past me,” laughed the Zimbabwe-born Cayeux after posting rounds of 67 and 68.
“I would have burst out laughing if someone told me I’d be tied for sixth after two rounds and with Anton Haig, to boot! I played a practice round on Sunday and my feet were covered in blisters. But this is grin it and bear it time. This stage of my rehab is all about getting fighting fit to return to the Sunshine Tour at the end of the year, so there is no turning back.”
Cayeux received a medical exemption from the Sunshine Tour, but he applied for permission to compete on the IGT Tour to prepare for his comeback. He tested the water at the final Race to Q-School event at Centurion Country Club, where he shot rounds of 76, 70 and 73 to tie for 33rd.
It was an emotional week for Cayeux, who had to endure 27 operations and hours of physical therapy for more than five years just to get back on the golf course.
“I’m playing, but I still have a lot of work to do,” said Cayeux, who mixed birdies at six, eight, 13 and 14 with a lone bogey at nine.
“I’m hitting the ball great, chipping well and the short irons are good, but the putter didn’t really warm up today. I have been working with a biokineticist Jessica Weston, and it’s gratifying to see that the work is paying off in the scores I’m posting.
“The biggest challenge at this stage is to walk 18 holes a day and this is a 72-hole event, so is going to really test me. If I survive this week, it will be a huge box ticked. I’ve asked for a sponsors’ invitation to the Zimbabwe Open. It would be unreal to play in my home Open again and it will give me a good idea of where I stand on the Sunshine Tour pros without starting my medical exemption.”
Park teed it up on the IGT Tour just two days after she wrapped up her rookie season on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.
The 19-year-old South Korean golfer finished eighth in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies Final at Millvale Private Retreat and seventh overall in nine starts.
“It has been an incredible summer and an incredible experience for me to play with Bertine Strauss over the first two rounds at Millvale,” said the GFG Academy golfer. “She was my idol growing up and she has inspired me so much since she turned pro last year. As soon as the Chase finished, I was wishing we could start another one right away.”
Park began competing on the country’s premier development Tour just after she lifted the Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Championship.
“I played the IGT Tour full-time last year to prepare for my pro debut on the Sunshine Ladies Tour and it really gave me the confidence to compete against experienced players. It’s great to come back and to keep the form going. I shot a bogey-free 69 in round one and I didn’t drop a shot today.”
Meanwhile Franz is looking forward to going head-to-head with his GFG Academy stable-mate.
“CJ is very competitive, so we will spur each other on,” said Franz, who notched five birdies on the back nine and added three more coming home for a flawless card, while Du Plessis had just one bogey for his 66.
He renewed his love affair with a trusty Cleveland Classic and believes the trusty driver has turned his game around.
“I threw it in the bag before the GMC Doubles and Hennie (du Plessis) and I won the event and I finished fourth in the Houghton Open last week. I’ve had it since 2010 and I can hit any shot with that club. I can fade it, draw it, hit it high, hit it low; it was just what I needed to get my game back into shape.
“I also got a great car sponsorship from Mandy Mitchell and that Golf 7R has changed my life. Instead of arriving in a bakkie that’s falling apart, I’m driving in style. I arrive feeling like a pro and I play like a pro. It’s amazing how having air conditioning can improve your attitude!”