14th December 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour
Christmas comes early for Grobler at Killarney
(PHOTO – Clinton Grobler with Killarney Country Club Director of Golf Kevin Rakow)
JOHANNESBURG, 14 December 2017 – Clinton Grobler hit two magnificent shots and holed a confident putt at the 54th hole of the season-finale at Killarney Country Club to end a 14 month wait for a second IGT Challenge Tour victory on Thursday.
The 23-year-old Krugersdorp golfer threw away a two-shot lead with successive bogeys at 16 and 17. He needed a birdie finish to beat Kyle Barker from Randpark to lift the trophy at the 10th Race to Q-School Series event.
Grobler smacked a two-iron down the 18th fairway, leaving himself a perfect pitching wedge in.
“I was 150 metres out and I hit it to five feet,” said Grobler, who collected an early Christmas box worth R8 000 for his one-stroke victory on three-under-par 207.
“My playing partners had some trouble around the green and I started to overthink the putt. Once it was my turn to play, I just switched my mind off. I went with the first line I picked, committed to the shot and put a confident stroke on the putt for a 71 and the win.
“This does my confidence the world of good. I didn’t expect to win this season, because the standard is so much higher. I felt I couldn’t compete with these guys, but playing the Joburg Open really changed my mind-set. I came here knowing I have the game to beat these guys and I did it.”
Grobler carried a two shot lead into the final round after successive rounds of 68.
Barker started three off the pace and was level through the turn after three birdies and bogeys. A flawless back nine with birdies at 12 and 15 saw him sign for 69 and he set the clubhouse target at two-under.
“It’s been a while and I was pretty nervous at the start the round,” said Grobler. “I birdied the first, but shanked a five-iron off the tee at the second and finished in the trees. I left my approach short and I told myself that if I could up-and-down to make par, I would be okay.”
Grobler saved par, hit it close at three and made the birdie putt to get back to five under.
“The nerves disappeared,” he said. “I made solid pars over the next three holes and birdied the eighth, but the ninth got me again,” said Grobler, who dropped two shots at the tough par four in the second round.
“Yesterday I went left; today right. My second finished in the greenside bunker and I two-putted for bogey after the trap-shot. I dropped another shot at 10, but I made some good pars after that and a two shot lead with three to play.”
At 16, Grobler hit his tee shot down the middle and had 160 metres left to the pin.
“The wind was into us, so I wanted to hit a soft nine-iron with a slight draw, but the ball stayed right and finished on the fringe,” he said. “Then I three-putted from nowhere. I took six-iron off the tee at 17, but short-sided myself in the greenside bunker. I chipped it seven feet past the hole and missed the return, so I walked to the 18th tee knowing I had to birdie the last.
“I hit a lot of fairways and greens this week and my putting was good enough to get the job done on one of the toughest courses on the IGT Challenge Tour circuit. To come away with a victory during the Race to Q-School Series is a big accomplishment for me, and for my coach Hennie Rootman.”
First round leader Adriel Poonan (70) and Juan Langeveld (67) tied for third on one under.
Gary Player Class of 2017 members Makhetha Mazibuko (69) and Omar Sandys (71) shared fifth on even-par with reigning IGT Challenge Tour Money List leader Ruan Conradie (71) and Francois Coetzee (70), Thriston Lawrence (73) finished a further stroke back in ninth on his own, while Race to Q-School Order of Merit leader Estiaan Conradie (71) Jason Roets (73), Tokkie van den Berg (69) and amateur Andrew Carlsson (69) closed out the top 10 in the season-finale on two over.