19th January 2016 | IGT Challenge Tour

Conradie relishes final round clash at Wingate

EastiaanConradie (44)(PHOTO – Estiaan Conradie; credit CJ du Plooy)

JOHANNESBURG, 19 January 2016 – Gauteng North junior Estiaan Conradie was pleased as punch to find himself in the leading match after action wrapped up in the second round of the IGT Tour’s Wingate Park Country Club Open on Tuesday.

The 18-year-old turned one under, but used a pair of birdies and an eagle on the back nine to play himself into the company of the co-leaders on eight under 135 – professional Pieter Kruger and SA number one ranked amateur Tristen Strydom.

“Man, this is just perfect,” Conradie gushed.

“I’ve never played on the IGT Tour, but when I saw they were kicking off the season here at my home course, I decided to play. I thought it would be great to get a few competitive rounds in before I leave for the Free State Open this weekend.

“When I came in to sign my card, I saw I was only one shot behind Tristen. I figured for sure a couple of the pros would knock me back. I’m really, really pleased that I will get the chance to play with Pieter and Tristen.

“This is going to be a really good opportunity for me to see how I handle the pressure of being with the leaders. Irrespective of the outcome, it will be great experience for me.”

Conradie was two off the pace after an opening 69, and a double bogey early in the second round set him even further back.

“I hit my trap shot into the water at the par-five seventh, so it wasn’t the greatest start, but I got back to level with birdies at five and six and I holed a long putt at the ninth to get into red figures,” he said.

The Tshwane golfer pushed his drive into the trees at the par-five 13th, but found a useful gap in the trees and played the shot to perfection.

“I saw the green through a gap and I hit a four-iron to about 12 feet. I couldn’t believe how well that shot came out and then I holed the putt. That eagle gave me some great momentum.

“I knocked in another long putt for birdie at 15 and hit it stiff at 16 for another birdie. The best part about the round was that I erased the double and didn’t drop another shot. Hopefully I can keep that streak going in the final round.”

Strydom started the second round one behind Kruger and set the target with a flawless 68.

“I never really got going,” the Ekurhuleni golfer said. “I played solid, but I missed some birdie chances. Still, it felt good to post a bogey-free round. Just need to get the short stick hot on Wednesday.”

Kruger’s 68 was a lot more colourful.

His front nine featured a hat-trick of birdies from the second, a double bogey at fifth and a bogey at seven. The GFG Academy player parred the first three holes on the back nine before firing four birdies on the trot from the 13th. He dropped another shot at 17, but negated that bogey with a birdie-four at the closing hole.

CJ du Plessis carded a 68 to finish on 137, while Sunshine Tour rookie Teaghan Gauche fired a low 65 at his home course to join the pack in fifth on 138, including fellow Sunshine Tour campaigners Ockie Strydom (66) and Eddie Taylor (68), amateur Eric Nel (68) and MJ Daffue (68).

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