14th June 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour
De Jager goes wire-to-wire in Centurion Challenge
(PHOTO – Louis de Jager; credit CJ du Toit)
TSHWANE, 14 June 2017 – Triple Sunshine Tour winner Louis de Jager shut out any doubt about his return to form when he put together the week’s most impressive performance to close out a 12 shot victory in the Centurion Challenge on Wednesday.
The 30-year-old Els Club Copperleaf golfer racked up nine birdies in a flawless display at Centurion Country Club to break an 18 month winning drought with his fourth IGT Challenge Tour title.
In a scintillating display of pin-seeking approach shots and long range putting, De Jager outclassed the chasing pack to triumph with a winning total of 21-under-par 195.
Dainfern amateur Dean Martin and Callum Mowat from Modderfontein had to settle for joint second at nine under 207 after posting respective rounds of 69 and 71.
De Jager slept on a four shot cushion, courtesy of an opening round of 68 and a bogey-free 64 in the second round.
The HPC Tuks Golf Academy player drained a 20-metre putt at the second to set the tone for his round. He added birdies at the third and the fourth holes and notches another trio of gains from 15 to open up a substantial gap on the field.
“When I holed that monster putt, I knew I could go low again,” said de Jager. “The rest of my birdies on the front nine were all within close range and I knocked in another one close at the first to start my back nine with a birdie, as well.
“I had a 10 shot lead at the turn. I haven’t always sustained the focus when I’ve had a big lead, so it was a really good exercise for me to stay in the moment until the last putt dropped.”
He reeled in five straight pars from the second to the fifth before he boxed birdie putts at seven and eight for his 63.
“It was great to pick up another pair of birdies just before the end of the round,” he said. “I kept my head in the game and didn’t just stir the ball after taking such a big lead. It’s just a pity I couldn’t convert for birdie at the ninth for another triple.
“The course was in great nick and the greens rolled really true. Th key to the win was two-fold; I read the greens really well and I’m striking the ball probably the best I’ve ever struck it in my golf career.”
The Lumenrock International Sports Management golfer began working on swing changes early last year with his coach Llewellyn van Leeuwen, but it wasn’t until a week ago that the pair discovered the last crucial element to the swing that destroyed the field this week.
“Lew and I found something and everything just clicked,” said De Jager. “I always come back to the IGT Challenge Tour to work on my game and to stay competitive during long breaks and somehow, it always pays off for me.
“I plan to compete on the European Challenge Tour in about two months, so hitting this kind of form right now is very encouraging. I scrambled well where I needed to and played 36 holes without dropping a shot; that’s the kind of game you want to take abroad.”
De Jager said he had a good reason to try to win this week.
“My son Luca is 19 months old and a very busy bee,” he said. “My wife and I agreed that if I won this week, we would buy our son a trampoline to help expend all that energy. Can’t wait to go shopping tomorrow.”