13th February 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour

Flawless Visser stakes share of State Mines lead

KillarneyDay1 (209)(PHOTO – Leon Visser; credit CJ du Plooy)

BRAKPAN, 13 February 2017 – Mpumalanga amateur Leon Visser made a perfect start at State Mines Golf Club on Monday for the joint first round lead in the Race to Q-School #16 on the IGT Challenge Tour in Brakpan.

Wayne Stroebel set the early benchmark at five under, but the 19-year-old Ermelo golfer commanded a share of pole position alongside his Wanna Be A Champion Academy stable-mate when he fired five birdies in the afternoon for a flawless 67.

Martin Dewhurst from England finished one off the pace, while Visser and Stroebel lead by two from a large group at three under that features Gary Player Class of 2017 member Michael Dreyer, Thriston Lawrence, Quintin Crause, Jonathan Waschefort, Paul De Beer, Divan Marais, Matt Bright and Italian amateur Philip Geerts.

Visser made a charge up the leaderboard with three successive birdies from the second and a further gain at the eighth took him to the turn in four under. After six straight pars on the homeward loop, he holed a superb trap-shot at 16 to match the clubhouse target.

The Q-School hopeful was confident about his game after his first round showing.

“In the last few weeks I’ve felt that I’ve been coming into some form and everything worked together well today,” Visser said. “I hope I can carry this form through to the next two rounds to cement a place at the top or near the top on Wednesday.

“I played really well from tee to fairway to green. I hit 10 fairways and 14 greens in regulation, so the driver worked well and I gave myself a lot of birdie chances. My distance control into the greens was good and that’s why I was close to the flag for most of the day. And I made a lot of putts from around 10 to 12 feet, so the putter was also nice and hot.”

Visser also made some excellent pars, including a great save at 11.

“The fact that I didn’t drop any shots is significant,” he said. “I missed a few birdie chances, but I made some great pars to keep the momentum going. Like at 11, where I hit my tee shot in the hazard. I had to dig deep and execute well to save par. Pulling it off gave me an extra boost of confidence.”

Stroebel also enjoyed a trio of birdies from the second and turned four under with another gain at nine, but he lost the advantage of birdies at 10 and 12 with bogeys at 11 and 13. A seventh birdie at the par-five 15th left him a strong position on day one.

Dewhurst surrendered just one shot for his 68, but Lawrence was left ruing a triple, a double and a bogey on his back nine after getting to four under on the opening stretch. He redeemed himself by offsetting six dropped shots with three birdies and an eagle at 15 to stay in the hunt.

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