8th June 2016 | IGT Challenge Tour

Druian turns back clock on IGT Tour

Killarney8June_WarrickDruian_papers(PHOTO – Warrick Druian; credit CJ du Plooy)

JOHANNESBURG, 8 June 2016 – It’s not a stretch to say that most aspirant pros don’t believe the seasoned veterans that the leap to the pro circuit is a process and it takes time. The response is often “Jordan Spieth did. Tiger Woods did it. Rory McIlroy did it.” But these world stars are the exception to the rule. For the average Joe, getting to the top is a long grind.

There is a time for talking, but actions speak louder than words, so RAW Academy co-owner Warrick Druian decided to lock horns with the country’s rising stars on the IGT Tour this week.

Two rounds into the Killarney Challenge, the former PGA Championship winner turned back the clock to grab a share of the 36-hole lead with Sunshine Tour campaigner Ockie Strydom in the Killarney Challenge on Wednesday.

“To be fair, Ockie needs to take some credit for this,” said the 46-year-old, who fired a five-under-par 65 at Killarney Country Club to join Strydom in pole position at five under 135.

“Ockie was having a birdie festival, so I had to pick my game to keep pace with him. I’ve been off the circuit for six years, but playing with him really fired up those competitive juices.”

Strydom lagged four off the pace after a 71, but erased the deficit with four birdies in a row from the third. A fourth gain at the ninth saw him join overnight leader Werner van Wyk in front at four under.

Druian, three behind at the start of the rounds, wasn’t going to be upstaged.

He burst from the blocks with back-to-back birdies and got within striking distance of Van Wyk and Strydom with another birdie at seven.

Strydom took the sole lead with birdies at 10 and 12, and Druian overturned a bogey at 10 with birdies at 12 and 13 to stay close. After both players dropped the par five 15th, Strydom parred his way home for a 64 and Druian boxed back-to-back birdie putts at 16 and 17 to join the GFG Academy player at the top.

Meanwhile Van Wyk spoiled a perfectly good run of pars on the back nine with three successive bogeys over the last three holes for a 72. The Modderfontein golfer finished alone in third at one under, with amateur David McIntyre (71) and Juan Swart (67) a shot behind.

Druian said a frustrating Investec Royal Swazi Open in May convinced him to have a go this week.

“A lot of our members here at Killarney played in Swaziland and they wanted me to play, but I had a really frustrating week,” he said. “I didn’t hit the ball well, I didn’t putt well and overall it was a miserable performance. In the last couple of weeks I started playing like my old self, though, and I wanted to tee it up this week to see where my game is at.

“Ockie is a quality player and it was a lot of fun to play with him. I am striking the ball really well and putting well. I hit most fairways and greens and that felt great. I reckon Ockie and I can make a fist of it in the final round. At this age, it’s great to compete and to win would be even better.”

IGT Tour commissioner Cois du Plooy enjoyed seeing Druian in contention.

“Warrick and Richard (Kaplan) run the RAW Academy and between them, they have 55 years of professional experience as players and coaches,” Du Plooy said. “Seeing Warrick right up there is great because it will give the youngsters who think they are ready for the pro circuit reason to pause.

“As the premier development Tour in South Africa we aim to help good players become Tour players, but the IGT Tour is also geared at giving amateurs a wake-up call. This kind of result is what these youngsters need to see to believe that their coaches really do know better. If they can’t beat players like Warrick, they need to take more time.”

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