26th September 2016 | IGT Challenge Tour

Druian drives to Killarney Challenge lead

(PHOTO – Warrick Druian; credit CJ du Plooy)KillarneyDay1 (105)

JOHANNESBURG, 26 September 2016 – Just two months since he lost the first IGT Tour event at Killarney Country Club in a play-off, former Telkom PGA Championship winner Warrick Druian was having a second go in the 72-hole Killarney Challenge at Monday.

The 46-year-old RAW Academy co-owner was the only player to dip below par on a blustert day at the challenging layout as he opened up a three shot lead over Carrie Park, Thabang Simon and amateur Fanie Wolmarans with an imposing three-under-par 67.

“I told the guys this morning they better watch out, because last time I played for myself, but this time I’m playing for Bolt,” said Druian.

“Our puppy got run over six weeks ago and had his leg broken. A win here this week will go a long way to settling the vet’s bill. I’m just glad that Ockie Strydom sat this week out. I might actually have a chance to win this.

“A three-shot cushion is great so early in the tournament, but there are some strong players in the field this week. It’s going to take all my experience and little luck to take it all the way.”

Lady Luck sure was smiling on Druian as he finished what he described as “not a very pretty round”.

“It really was blowing a gale out there, like playing at the coast, and the course is still running quite hard,” Druian said. “The greens are very fast and true, but if you miss the greens, you can make big numbers very quickly.

“I hit a couple of fantastic approaches in the wind, and I used the holes that played with the wind to my advantage, but I also hit some loose shots that cost me. Luckily, I caught a few breaks at the end of my round, too.

“The first three holes are into the wind and I made a great birdie at the third, but at the fourth into the wind, I hit it in the hazard and made a great up-and-down for a bogey. Capitalised on the wind against at the par five fifth and hit an eight-iron to three feet and made the birdie putt.

“At the eighth, I hit another solid approach to birdie distance and made the putt, but gave the shot back at the ninth to turn one under. I made a great par-save at 10, two solid pars into the wind at 11 and 12 and another par at 13 to keep the momentum going. Hit it to an inch at 14, almost a hole-in-one, and I hit a great eight-iron to 12 feet and holed the birdie putt to get to three under.”

Skill and experience carried him through 15 holes, but Lady Luck also played her part over the closing stretch.

“I hit the most terrible shot at 16, an ugly pull that should have been a bogey at the least, but I scrambled really well to save par,” he said. “At the short hole, I hit it well over the green. I was in a dreadful spot, dead behind the green, but somehow I managed to chip it to 15 feet and knocked in the par putt.

“I hit a beautiful three-iron down the fairway at 18 and I had a gap-wedge in, but I caught it fat and it flew into the water. I had to take a drop, so all I wanted was to get the chip shot as close as possible, but the ball bounced once and disappeared down the hole.

“Like I said, skill and experience definitely helped me out there, but a little luck never hurts, either.”

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