18th July 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour
Conradie sibs rival for Service Challenge glory
(PHOTO – Estiaan Conradie; credit CJ du Plooy)
TSHWANE, 18 July 2017 – Things could get very interesting in the final round of the Services Challenge as the Conradie brothers from Wingate Park Country Club go head-to-head in the title hunt on the IGT Challenge Tour on Wednesday.
Estiaan Conradie opened with a lack-lustre 72 at Services Golf Club as brother Ruan shot to the top of the pile with a superb six-under-par 66 on Monday.
But it was Conradie junior who was the talk of the town on Tuesday.
Ruan took advantage of an early start to return a 69 and the 21-year-old set the early clubhouse lead at 10 under 134. Done for day, he settled in to wait for his baby brother to finish. Having thrown down the gauntlet, it was no surprise that Estiaan answered the call to arms. The 19-year-old set the course alight with a blistering seven under 65 to pull within three shots of the lead.
Best friends off the course, the rivalry is always fierce once the clubs come out.
The pair spent their amateur career trying to upstage each other when they were not combining for Gauteng North to dole out punishment and the competitiveness continued when the duo began campaigning on the country’s premier golf development circuit last year.
Estiaan reeled in three victories as an amateur against Ruan’s two, and he kept the bragging rights when he broke through for his maiden IGT Challenge Tour win in the Randpark Firethorn Challenge in May.
Known for his aggression, Estiaan burst out of the gates with back-to-back birdies and racked up six more gains with pin-seeking irons. Birdies at seven, eight, 10 and 11 took him to six under and he briefly pencilled in a bogey at the par four 14th but negated the lone blemish with a birdie-birdie finish to move to seven under.
“I sunk a six-footer for birdie at the first and tapped in for birdie at the second, so the ideal start for me,” said Estiaan.
“I holed a long one at seven, a down-hill slider of about 18 foot and at nine my eagle putt died in the mouth of the hole and I tapped in for birdie. Both putts at 11 and 12 were inside eight feet. I knocked in another 10-foot slider at 17 and boxed a three-footer for birdie at 18.
“I hit a poor tee shot into the trees at the 14th and I couldn’t save par from there. The putter worked really well and I only needed 26 putts. I hit my wedges well and struck 14 greens, but I wasn’t strong off the tees and only hit nine fairways. I can strike the ball a bit better in the final round, I’ll definitely have a chance at shooting for a second title. But I’ve told Ruan I’m coming for him. Its game on.”
Conradie senior mixed five birdies with a lone bogey at 17.
“I wasn’t striking the ball well, so I just tried to keep it in play and give myself chances,” he said. “I had a very solid front nine; hit both par fives in two and two-putted for birdies. I missed a few fairways on the back nine that cost me birdie chances, but I holed a short putt for birdie at 13 and hit a good pitch into 14 for another birdie.
“I kept the momentum going with a good par-save at 15 after I overshot the green. My only real bad putt was at 17, where I pulled a four-footer for par. Stats whys, I had 29 putts, so four more than in the first round and I hit 13 fairways, so you could say Estiaan and I are struggling with similar problems. But overall it felt solid and I back myself against him in the final round.”
Sunshine Ladies Tour campaigner Nobuhle Dlamini fired a 68 to join Pieter Moolman at six under.