22nd February 2016 | IGT Challenge Tour
Conradie on the prowl in Centurion Classic
TSHWANE, 22 February 2016 – He never expected to be upstaged by his younger brother in their first start on the IGT Tour, but the sibling rivalry was just the motivation Pretoria amateur Ruan Conradie needed to perform in the Centurion Classic on Monday.
The 20-year-old Wingate Park golfer reversed two bogeys with eight birdies for a six-under-par 66 and a share of the first round lead with six-time IGT Tour winner Coert Groenewald and veteran pro John McClean from Northern Ireland at Centurion Country Club.
Conway Kunneke and amateur pair Quintin Crause and Eric Nel stayed close to the leaders with a trio of 67s, while seasoned Sunshine Tour campaigner Thabang Simon grabbed a seat on the bus at four under 68 with Juan Langeveld, Damian Naicker, Bryce Myburgh, TJ Bekker, Teagan Moore and amateur Marco de Beer.
Six weeks ago, the Conradie brothers teed it up in the IGT Tour’s opening event at their home course, but it was 18-year-old Estiaan who staved off professional Pieter Kruger and South Africa’s number one ranked amateur Tristen Strydom to claim a one stroke victory in the Wingate Park Open.
But, with the younger Conradie seven shots off the pace, Ruan can sleep comfortably tonight.
“We are all really proud of Estiaan’s achievement, but I definitely need to win one myself, so I can level the score, because we are still hearing about it,” joked Conradie.
Conradie served notice of his talent with a runner-up finish in the Central Gauteng Open late last year and more recently, a fifth place finish in the Free State Open.
The opening round performance at Centurion Country Club left the young gun in a very positive frame of mind.
“I was really pleased with my round, because I struck the ball really well and I gave myself a lot of chances,” Conradie said.
“I holed a 40-footer for birdie at the 17, but the rest of my birdie putts were all less than 12 feet and my stats for fairways and greens were really good. That’s always a positive sign that the game is moving in the right direction.
“The two bogeys were soft ones. I drove the middle of the fairway at four and 13, but at four I left a gap-wedge short of the green, chipped to four feet and missed the return putt for par. At 17, I was playing with the wind and hit a sand-wedge in, but it pitched and bounced into the rough.
“I chipped to four feet, but missed that left-to-right putt, as well. I’ve been in contention before, but I’ve never led a tournament. It’s a new challenge and that’s exciting. This is what I hope to experience this year as I prep for the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School at the end of the season.”