12th July 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour
Cool-head Kaminski soars at Kyalami
(Photo – Rupert Kaminski; credit CJ du Plooy)
JOHANNESBURG, 12 July 2017 – Oklahoma City University student Rupert Kaminski soared on eagle’s wings to beat Merrick Bremner and Makhetha Mazibuko for his maiden IGT Challenge Tour victory at the Kyalami Challenge on Wednesday.
The 20-year-old from Parkview started the final round at Kyalami Country Club six strokes behind Bremner, a five-time Sunshine Tour champion, and two strokes behind Gary Player School of 2017 member Mazibuko.
He got within striking distance of the Sunshine Tour campaigners courtesy of a brace of eagles on the front nine and birdied the last two holes for a superb seven-under-par 65 and a one shot victory on 12 under 204.
Home on his summer break after completing his second year studying broadcasting at Oklahoma City University, Kaminski was absolutely delighted with the result.
“I can’t lie; I’m over the moon to win in my second start,” said Kaminski. “If you just practice, you quickly run out of steam, so it’s great to have IGT Challenge Tour here in Gauteng. It’s close to home, so I can compete and still feel like I am on holiday the rest of the week.”
Kaminski played the country’s premier golf development tour to prepare for his first year abroad. In his first season, he helped his institution to win the NAIA National Championship and last season, he won seven individual titles.
“We are heading straight into the autumn season when I head back to Oklahoma at the end of August, so I need to be at my best,” he said. “Playing the IGT Challenge Tour helps me to keep my game sharp and keep competitive.”
Kaminski racked up birdies at the first and fifth and eagles at the two par fives – the fourth and the ninth – and offset two bogeys with birdies at 13 and 14. He birdied 17 to catch up to Bremner and Mazibuko for a second time and a birdie at the last sealed the deal.
“I birdied the first hole in the first two rounds, and to birdie it again, put me in a positive frame of mind,” said Kaminski. “I also had my former Central Gauteng Inter-Provincial team-mate and a great friend, Andi Dill, on the bag, and I must give him credit for keep that positive vibe going.
“I had a soft drop at the third, but made up for it with the eagle at four. I like the way this hole sets up for me and I eagled it in the first round, tool. I hit driver down the middle and a five-iron from 185 metres to 10 feet and holed the putt. I hit another good driver at nine and three-iron to five feet and boxed that one to go 10 under. That’s when I knew I had a chance.”
Kaminski three-putted 10 for bogey, but boxed a tough 15-foot downhill putt at 13 for birdie to get back to 10 under and keep the round going.
Bremner turned in the lead at 13 under at the turn, but bogeyed 12 and 14, which saw Mazibuko grab a share of the lead at 11 under after birdies at 12 and 13.
“I was two behind, but I drained a 30 footer for birdie at 14 to join the lead,” said Kaminski. “Then I dropped back to 10 under after another bogey at the par-four 16th. That bogey was annoying. I hit my tee shot way right, but I had a good line to the green. I hit my second just short and chipped it to eight feet and two-putted.”
Kaminski hit a seven-iron to 10 feet at the par-three 17th and made the birdie putt to get back to 11 under and knew he needed to birdie the last to have a chance.
“I hit three-iron off the tee and had 220 metres to the pin,” he said. “I took a four-iron and fired it straight at the pin. It rolled off the back of the green, but I had 15 feet left, so I lagged it close and tapped in for birdie.”
He watched as Mazibuko’s birdie putt looked in and rolled past and Bremner’s effort lipped out.
“I’m really stoked about this win,” he said. “Credit has to go to my coach here in South Africa, Ashleigh Roestoff, who taught me everything I know and the head coach back at Oklahoma City University, Kyle Blazer. They have both helped me to mature as a player.
“Going to college was definitely the right thing. If I hadn’t received a scholarship I probably would have studied here at home, because I believe you need to give yourself a few years to mature so you can be ready for the rigours of pro golf.
“This week was particularly great, with so many Sunshine Tour players in the field. It’s an awesome feeling to come back and to see that my game has improved and I that I can hold my own against players of that calibre.”