22nd November 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour
Conradie strikes again at Randpark
(PHOTO – Estiaan Conradie; credit CJ du Plooy)
JOHANNESBURG, 22 November 2017 – For a second time this season, Estiaan Conradie conquered at Randpark Golf Club, but unlike his first pro win at the Firethorn Course, the Pretoria golfer had to dig deep to claim the seventh tournament in the IGT Challenge Tour Race to Q-School at the Bushwillow Course on Wednesday.
The 19-year-old closed with a hard-fought-for five-under-par 67 to edge out older brother Ruan by one shot on a winning total of 13-under 203.
“This win was way, way harder than the last couple of victories,” said Conradie of his seventh victory on the country’s premier golf development circuit.
“There were a tough couple of guys hunting me today. I made a good start, which is always important, especially on the last day when you’re in the mix. I kept my momentum, played solidly and hit the greens, but I also dropped a few. The guys chasing made some birdies, so it got pretty tight down the stretch. It was tough, but I’m happy that I pulled it through.”
Conradie began the final round tied for the lead on eight-under with Philip Geerts from Italy.
The pair held a slender one shot lead over amateur Ruan Groenewald and two-time champion Matt Bright, while Ruan Conradie, Zabastian de Jager and Swaziland’s Nobuhle Dlamini lurked a further shot back.
The Wingate Park rookie immediately laid down a marker with an eagle at the par-five first.
He put some more distance between himself and Geerts with birdies at three and five, but let Bright and brother Ruan in the door with bogeys at eight, 11 and 14.
“I hit a six-iron stiff and boxed the putt for eagle to get off to a solid start,” said Conradie. “My ball striking was really superb and I putted very well, but the chipping was not up to my usual standard.
“I didn’t up-and-down for par at eight and I missed another par putt at 11. I birdied the next par five (12), but another poor chip at 14 ended in a bogey and I was back at 10 under.”
Bright grabbed a share of the lead with four birdies in a first five holes and another gain at 11, but his challenge grinded to halt with back-to-back bogeys at 14 and 15 to slip back to at 10 under. Neither player could afford to relax with Ruan Conradie on a charge.
The IGT Challenge Tour Money Leader racked in birdies at one three, five and six to get to 10 under and he shot past the leaders with a pair of birdies at 12 and 13.
“There was no way I was going to let Ruan win two in a row,” Conradie said. “I drove the fairway at 15, hit an eight-iron to a foot and holed the putt for birdie to get within one.
“I took a hybrid off the tee at 16, hit a nine-iron to a foot and made the putt to tie my brother for the lead. At 17, I drove the fairway again, but my four-iron flew the green. I finally pulled off a great chip shot and hit it to three feet. I made the putt to take the lead going down the last
“Ruan made par at the last hole, so I knew a par would win it. I didn’t get fancy; just took all four shots to get the par on the card. It’s was a tough fight down the back nine, but I’m thrilled with the way I fought to pull it through.
The Wanna Be A Champion Academy pair has a standing bet involving the family Camry. “Ruan Conradie shot 66 to record the low round of the day, which means he gets to drive the car until next week’s tournament, but I don’t mind riding shotgun.
“I kept my number one spot in the Race to Q-School Order of Merit and increased the gap on him, so he’ll have to win twice to catch me. Not that I’ll let that happen, either.”