12th November 2013 | IGT Challenge Tour
Du Plessis romps to six shot lead at IGT Services
PRETORIA, 12 November 2013 – If birdies are the best remedy to restore a golfer’s sagging confidence, then CJ du Plessis can be forgiven for thinking that the Services Golf Club in Pretoria is his own five-star day spa.
The Limpopo golfer’s scorecards over the first two days of the ninth Race to Q-School tournament are crammed in red numbers and Du Plessis definitely has a spring back in his swing after romping to a six shot lead on Tuesday.
Du Plessis began the second round tied for the lead on eight under with fellow Sunshine Tour rookie Johan de Beer, but by the time he reached the clubhouse, he had pulled well clear of the field with a second 65.
In addition to a nice R500 bonus for posting the lowest round, the 22-year-old celebrated his lowest two successive rounds since joining the pro ranks in January with pole position at 15-under-par 129.
Meanwhile Ryan Clarke moved to second on his own at nine under with a 68, while De Beer (72) joined Rae Mackie (68), Lean Boezaart (69) and former Sunshine Tour winner Brett Liddle (70) in third on 136.
Du Plessis built his cushion with two eagles, four birdies and a lone drop, but although he has half a dozen shots on his nearest challenger, it will be business as usual in the final round.
“If I learned anything this year on the Sunshine Tour is that you cannot afford to drop your guard for a second,” he said. “Today is was my turn, but tomorrow someone else can have a hot streak, so I’m definitely not going to relax. Plus, I’ve only made 16 birdies so far. My coach Graeme Francis set a target for me of seven a round, so there are still six birdies out there with my name on.”
Du Plessis took the early lead with an eagle at the par-five second, a birdie at the fifth and a second eagle at the par-five ninth. But, after back-to-back birdies at the 12th and 13th, a perfectly planned tee shot at the par-three 15th went awry.
“I hit probably my best shot of the day at the flag and it pitched right behind the flag, bounced once and disappeared in the rough behind the green,” Du Plessis explained. “Eight, nine months ago that bogey would probably have derailed my round, but now I just get on with it.”
He parred the next two holes and pitched a sand-wedge from 105m to two feet from the pin at the 18th to finish his trip around the 7,261 meter layout with birdie number four.
“This is a challenging course, but if you are on song, you can,” he said.
“Course management is really important, though. I hit driver, three wood from 245m into the wind to 12 foot for the first eagle, but the second one was downwind, so I hit driver, four-iron from 235m to two foot. You have to plan and execute your shots to score.”
Du Plessis has been campaigning on the IGT Tour and Sunshine Tour all season. In recent weeks, he posted some good results on the development Tour and similarly, made two cuts in succession on the Sunshine Tour. His earnings from the Vodacom Origins of Golf Final and BMG Classic lifted Du Plessis inside the top 100 on the Order of Merit.
“I am eight spots inside the cut-off, with effectively two chances to keep my card for 2014,” he said. “The SA Open is going to be very tough to get into with so many players competing, but this kind of performance gives me a lot of courage. I would really like to put together another low one on Wednesday, win this and take that confidence to whichever venue I have to qualify at.”
SECOND ROUND SCORES (Top 25 and ties)
All competitors RSA unless otherwise indicated; amateurs = AMA
129 – CJ du Plessis 64 65
135 – Ryan Clarke 67 68
136 – Rae Mackie 68 68, Lean Boezaart 67 69, Brett Liddle 66 70, Johan de Beer 64 72
137 – Romano Saincic 70 67, Drikus Bruyns 68 69
138 – Wayne Stroebel 71 67, Deon Bredenkamp 68 70
139 – Pieter Kruger 71 68, Herman Minnie 71 68, Andrew Light (AM) 68 71
140 – Brendan De Lange 72 68, Niel Meyer (AM) 70 70
141 – Jaco Mouton 73 68, Sarel Van der Walt 72 69, Tyron Mc Comb 75 66, Iliska Verwey 71 70, Cilliers Naude 71 70, Rob Menzies 70 71, Coert Groenewald 70 71
142 – Eduard Van Den Berg (AM) 72 70, Raymond Mathonsi 72 70, TJ Bekker 71 71, Lukas Steyn (AM) 71 71, Bonita Bredenhann 70 72, Otto van Greunen 68 74