31st January 2018 | IGT Challenge Tour
Conradie conquers at Wingate Park
(PHOTO – Ruan Conradie with Wingate Park Country Club Golf Director Shane Hayes; credit CJ du Plooy)
PRETORIA, 31 January 2018 – Pretoria rookie Ruan Conradie capped off a brilliant week at his home course to win the 14th event in the Race to Q-School Series on Wednesday.
Beginning the final day with a one-shot edge over Wynand Dingle, the 21-year-old took route 66 at Wingate Park Country Club to close out his eighth victory on the country’s premier golf development circuit.
Conradie triumphed with a three-day total of 17-under-par 199, finishing six shots clear of Gary Player School of 2017 member Toto Thimba Jnr, who vaulted to second with a four-under 68.
Sunshine Tour campaigner Dingle wound up joint third with Tokkie van den Berg and Pieter Moolman on nine-under. The Sunshine Tour campaigner carded a 73, Van den Berg shot 69 and Moolman closed with a final round 72.
The R10 000 pay-day moved Conradie within R1 184 of the top spot, currently occupied by younger brother Estiaan. With four events remaining, he could finish the season leading both the Money List and the Race to Q-School Order of Merit on the IGT Challenge Tour if he maintain his winning form.
“That’s something to play for, but I’m just thrilled that I shot the lowest round today; I got R500 and the keys to the family Camry for the next week, so Estiaan has to ride shotgun,” chuckled Conradie.
“It was actually a lot tighter at the start than the final leaderboard suggests. I birdied the second, but Wynand and Pieter birdied the first and second holes. I felt the pressure, but I knew the birdies would come if I just kept patient.”
Then Dingle made three successive bogeys from the third and Moolman fired seven straight pars to the turn. Although Conradie dropped a shot at the fifth, he recovered with birdies at six and eight to take control down the back nine.
He started with four straight pars, but the writing was on the wall when he drained a monster putt for eagle at the par-five 15th.
“I hit it inside 10 feet at all four holes, but the birdie putts wouldn’t drop,” said Conradie.
“The eagle at 15 was the turning point. The pin was tucked left and after a good drive, I had 210 metres in. I aimed for the middle right so I could use the slope to get to close to the pin and I hit it right on target. I had about 50 feet to the pin and I put quite a bit of pace on the putt. I expected it to pull up short, but it kept going and dropped in the hole.”
Conradie parred the short hole, knocked in a 20-footer for birdie at 17 and two-putted for birdie at the par-five closing hole to put the seal on a fantastic comeback.
“My confidence definitely took a knock when I played poorly in the qualifier for the BMW SA Open,” said the Wanna Be A Champion Academy player.
“I had worked hard over the holidays, but I just wasn’t sharp. After I missed the cut in my last two Race to Q-School starts, I went back to the drawing board and started from scratch. I felt good coming into this week and it definitely helped to be in familiar surroundings. The game and the confidence is back at the level it was at the end of last year. Q-School is just a few weeks off, so this win couldn’t have come at a better time.”