30th November 2015 | IGT Challenge Tour
Flawless Franz shares Final Race to Q-School lead
TSHWANE, 30 November 2015 – Tshwane pro Russell Franz fired a flawless eight-under-par 64 to grab a share of the first round lead with fellow Pro Squad Academy member Pieter Kruger in the final Race to Q-School event at Centurion Country Club on Monday.
The joint leaders finished two strokes clear of Namibian pro Ruan Huysamen and lead by three from former IGT Tour winners TJ Bekker, Duane Keun, Eddie Taylor, Juan Swart and recent Harry Oppenheimer Trophy champion, Woodhill amateur Philip Kruse.
Nine-time Sunshine Tour winner Marc Cayeux celebrated his return to competitive golf with a 76 to finish in a tie for 59th with Dwayne Coetzee and amateur Peetie van der Merwe.
Cayeux notched two birdies against three bogeys, but double bogeys around the turn spoiled an otherwise impressive outing.
Franz and Kruger both graduated from the GFG Academy to the Pro Squad Academy when they earned their cards for the Sunshine Tour.
“It’s kind of poetic that Pieter and I are leading this last event, hosted by the Pro Squad Academy,” Franz said.
“I hope that seeing us in the lead inspire the other GFG Academy guys, because this should be their goal, too. But I also hope that we motivate the players who really shouldn’t be heading to Q-School with our stories so they stick around on the IGT Tour for another year.”
The 25-year-old Franz claimed back-to-back victories on the country’s premier development Tour last year before securing his card with a tie for 23rd at Qualifying School.
“Our coach Graeme (Francis) told us that our main goal was to keep our cards,” Franz said.
“I thought it was just nonsense; my goal was to finish the season with exempt status. I made about R32 000, but I missed five cuts by one stroke. Those five misses was the difference between keeping my card and making a return trip to Q-School.
“You never believe these old ‘toppies’ when they tell you how tough your rookie season will be until you have experienced that grind yourself.”
Franz started the final event on the back of a joint third place finish in the eighth Race to Q-School event at Irene Country Club last week.
He poured in four birdie putts on each nine to tie Kruger, who offset two bogeys with 10 birdies.
“Isn’t it strange that, when the putter works, nothing goes wrong,” Franz said.
“I’ve been striking the ball well all year, but a streaky putter has been a huge problem. Before the Irene tournament Graeme told me to stick with my process. He said ‘Just putt. If it goes in, great, if it doesn’t, tough, don’t try to get fancy’.
“So I stuck with it and bam, I was in contention and even sharing the lead at one stage. I can’t believe how nervous I got when the television guys suddenly pitched up. Even this morning, I was more nervous than my first tee shot in the South African Open, so I am really pleased with today’s result.”
FIRST ROUND SCORES
All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified; amateurs indicated as (ama)
64 – Pieter Kruger, Russel Franz
66 – Ruan Huysamen NAM
67 – TJ Bekker, Phillip Kruse (ama), Duane Keun, Eddie Taylor, Juan Swart
68 – Wynand Dingle, Jason Diab, Bryce McCabe
69 – Matthew Adams (ama), Louis Taylor (ama), Simon Kruger, Jeff Hopkins (ama) IRE, Roux Jeffery NAM
70 – Matthew Spacey, Conway Kunneke, Herman Minnie, David Ashley ENG, Dean O’Riley, Joubert Van Eeden
71 – Jaco Prinsloo, Justin Levy NLD, Stephan Erasmus (ama), Dylan Mostert (ama), Ryan Clarke, Gareth Atkinson (ama), Glen de Waal NAM, Stefan Engell Andersen KEN, Christiaan Pretorius, Justin Turner, Kevin Berger GER
72 – Jacques De Villiers, Calvin Pearson, Philip Geerts (ama) ITA, MJ Daffue, Divan Marais (ama), Alastair Waddell ENG
73 – Tyrone Ryan, Sean Coomer (ama), Matt Bright, Michael Kok (ama), Sheldon Steyn ZIM, Michael Saunders ENG, Shaun Carter (ama) IRE, CJ Levey (ama), Albert Visser (ama)
74 – Armand Azar (ama), Bryandrew Roelofsz, Matthew Kent, Calvin Caldeira, Christof Appel, Igor Milicic SRB, Niel du Preez (ama)
75 – David Lamprecht, Gavin Miles, Stef Visage
76 – Dwayne Coetzee, Marc Cayeux ZIM, Peetie Van Der Merwe (ama)
77 – Brendan Britten (NAM), Clinton Cheia
78 – Marc De Jager (ama), James McCormick ENG, Tom Watson (ama), Bartjie De Klerk (ama)
79 – NJ Arnoldi, Sam Botham ENG, Stephane Van Neer (ama) COD
80 – Nicholas Botha (ama), Kyle Lucas (USA), JP Schmidt (ama)
81 – Dean Schonegevel (ama), Jaco Mouton
82 – Theodor Oosthuizen (ama), Tommie Brits (ama)
83 – Brendan Blake (ama)
84 – Rudolph Van De Venter (ama)
85 – Wayne du Toit