20th January 2016 | IGT Challenge Tour

Conradie cruises to maiden IGT Tour win

Wingate18-20JanDay3 (145)PHOTO – Estiaan Conradie; credit CJ du Plooy

JOHANNESBURG, 20 January 2016 – Gauteng North junior Estiaan Conradie gave the home crowd a huge reason to celebrate when he dunked the winning putt to capture the IGT Tour’s Wingate Park Country Club Open title after an intense battle with professional Pieter Kruger and South Africa’s number one ranked amateur Tristen Strydom on Wednesday.

“I don’t even have the words to describe how happy I am about this victory,” said the 18-year-old Tshwane amateur after a final round six-under-par 66 and a one stroke victory on 14 under 202.

“I entered the tournament because it was here at my home course and I wanted to get the rust off before the Free State Open this weekend.

“I never, in a million years, expected to be in the leading group or to win. It was such an incredible experience to play with all the pros and I am going to Maccauvlei with a lot of confidence now, because I really had to fight for this victory.”

Conradie played himself into the final group in his first start on the country’s premier development Tour with rounds of 69 and 67.

He was one off the pace at the start of the round, but burst out of the gates with a birdie to level the score.

“I pulled one stroke clear with a birdie at the fourth, but then the nerves caught up with me,” he said.

“I pushed my tee shot at the fifth right and I found my ball between the trees. I hit the escape shot too hard and the ball landed well right of the green. I couldn’t up-and-down to save par, so I had a little talk to myself walking to the sixth tee.

“I just told myself to calm down and to stick to my game plan. I got overexcited and messed up, but I was able to focus and get through the next three holes in pars. When I made birdie at nine, I felt in control of my game. That gave me a little boost going down the back nine.”

Conradie reeled in three birdies on the trot from 11 and reached the final hole tied with Strydom on 13 under and one shot clear of Kruger.

“I hit my tee shot perfectly and it was the first time this week I got it down the fairway. That’s when I knew I could win,” he said.

“I had 185 meters to the pin and I hit a great seven-iron to four feet and made the putt for birdie. I was totally calm playing 18. I’m really pleased that I stayed with Pieter and Tristen all day and I didn’t fold under the pressure.

“This was the first time I played with Tristen and it was an amazing experience for me. He hits the ball so well and it was great to watch him up close. I hope that I keep my game at this level. It would be great to win a few amateur events so I can also play my way into the National Squad.”

Kruger birdied the 18th for a 68 and Strydom made par for 68 to tie for second on 203, while MJ Daffue (68) and CJ du Plessis (69) shared fourth on 10 under 206.

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