14th February 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour

Duo target maiden breakthrough in Brakpan

KillarneyDay1 (91)(PHOTO – Gregg Blainey; credit CJ du Plooy)

BRAKPAN, 14 February 2017 – England’s Gregg Blainey and Thriston Lawrence moved within striking distance of a first IGT Challenge Tour victory after taking the joint lead in the Race to Q-School #16 at State Mines Golf Club on Tuesday.

Blainey fired a sublime seven-under-par 65, while Lawrence impressed with a flawless 66.

The pair share the lead at nine under 135 and will start the final round with a one shot advantage over Englishman Martin Dewhurst, who rose to third with successive rounds of 68. They are two shots clear of joint overnight leader Wayne Stroebel, Matt Bright, Paul Boshoff and Coert Groenewald, but Blainey believes their toughest opponent will be the drama-inspiring closing stretch of four holes where anything can happen.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better position to be going into the last round,” said Blainey, who reeled in a pair of birdies at 16 and 17 before he holed a gap-wedge for an eagle at the par-five closing hole. “Well, I’d like to be five ahead, of course, but I’ll take it.

“I feel under control and I’m enjoying it. It’s a packed leaderboard with so many guys within five shots, so anything can happen. I really just need to go out there and keep my head down and see what we can do.”

Blainey had an opportunity to break his duck when he held a share of the 36-hole lead in last week’s Race to Q-School #15, but let himself down in the final round at Killarney Country Club.

“I got in my own way,” stated the 36-year-old from Wokingham. “I just got in my own way; I thought more about the win than playing and ended up going for shots that I thought I should go for, instead of hitting the ones I could go for. I make that mistake again.”

Lawrence hit the skids on the back nine on day one and dropped six shots in three holes. Needless to say, the 20-year-old was smiling broadly after handing in a pristine card on day two.

“My game plan was the same as yesterday, but I executed it better,” he said. “I took an aggressive approach, because the greens are receptive after all the rain. They took all the bunkers out of play due to the flooding, but that didn’t affect me much because all my shots into the greens were around the 100 mark and I was able to go for the tight pins.

“Being able to play aggressively around here helps me, because the rough is tough. The closer I can get to the greens, the better my chances of getting on the green in two. The course doesn’t run much, but the greens are fantastic. I’d say all my putts were inside 10 feet. And I was consistent on both days. I hit 14 fairways in the first round and 14 today; I just let too many slip in the first round.

“It’s nice to have a chance tomorrow. This is only my second start since I had laser surgery done on my eyes, so I am definitely pleased to be sharing the lead.”

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