23rd March 2015 | IGT Challenge Tour
Franz in four-way tussle at Centurion Academy Classic
TSHWANE, 23 March 2015 – Sunshine Tour rookie Russel Franz was extremely pleased after playing his way into a four-way tie for the lead in the first round of the Centurion Academy Classic at Wingate Park Country Club on Monday.
The IGT Tour graduate shares pole position with Conway Kunneke and Sunshine Tour regulars Louis Calitz and Zimbabwe’s Ryan Cairns.
Franz served notice of his talent with back-to-back victories on the IGT Tour last season.
The Sunshine Tour rookie is hunting form ahead of the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open early next month and is targeting another successful week at Wingate Park.
“I won my first IGT Tour title here at Wingate last May, so the course definitely holds some positive memories for me,” the GFG Academy player said.
The lanky Pretoria native opened with two birdies and was happy to interrupt a run of 10 pars from the fifth with another pair of gains at the 15th and 18th holes.
“The conditions were very tough, but the course is in great shape,” Franz said. “You could put some red numbers on your card with good course management.
“I knew I needed to take advantage and get off to a fast start. Luckily I managed to limit my mistakes to just the one bogey and hopefully I can keep that going for two more rounds.”
Franz said the tough course set-up is the perfect tool for the Sunshine Tour professionals who want to stay competitive, but it serves the amateurs and young professionals equally well.
“It is good for all of us to play a tough set-up like this,” he said.
“We need to get battle ready for the upcoming stretch in Africa and if you can finish a couple of strokes under par on a day like today, you know you are on the right track.
“But I’ve gone through Qualifying School and those gruelling pre-qualifiers on the Sunshine Tour. It gets really tough, and I think it’s a good thing to expose the youngsters to this early so they are more experienced and better prepared for the jump to the Sunshine Tour.”
On a tough scoring day, the leading quartet finished just one stroke ahead of Lean Boezaart and Werner Van Niekerk, who share fifth with amateur Carrie Park.
Seasoned winner Desvonde Botes and reigning Battle of the Giants champion Jacques Kruyswijk threaten at one under in a 10-man bus that includes Tyron Mc Comb, Mark Williams, Shaun Smith, Drikus Bruyns, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Herman Minnie, Ted Hendriks and Namibian Ruan Huysamen.
Last week’s GFG Academy Classic champion Tyrone Ryan lags just three off the pace at even-par alongside Wayne du Toit, Alwyn Vorster, multiple IGT Tour champion Ockie Strydom and Mahikeng Pro-Am winner, Toto Thimba Jnr.
69 – Louis Calitz, Conway Kunneke, Ryan Cairns (ZIM), Russel Franz
70 – Lean Boezaart, Werner Van Niekerk, Carrie Park AMA
71 – Tyron Mc Comb, Mark Williams, Shaun Smith, Desvonde Botes, Drikus Bruyns, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Jacques Kruyswijk, Herman Minnie, Ted Hendriks, Ruan Huysamen (NAM)
72 – Wayne du Toit, Alwyn Vorster, Ockert Strydom, Tyrone Ryan, Toto Thimba Jnr
73 – Stuart Smith (BOT), David Ashley AMA, Dongkwan Kim (KOR), Simon Kruger AMA, Ruan Korb AMA, Michael Kok AMA, Danie Pretorius, Christiaan Pretorius, Michael Armstrong AMA, NJ Arnoldi AMA, Gideon Pienaar
74 – Grant Doverspike (USA), Francois Coetzee, Derik Ferreira, Thriston Lawrence, Joubert Van Eeden AMA, Dylan O’Leary, Breyten Meyer, Rosswell Sinclair AMA, Duan Nagel AMA
75 – Eric Nel AMA, Dwayne Coetzee, Ryan Tipping, Greg Bentley (ZIM), Calvin Caldeira, Zander Lombard, Drikus Van der Walt, Phillip Kruse AMA, Peetie Van Der Merwe AMA, Roberto Lupini, Bryn Flanagan, Stephan Erasmus AMA, Rikus Oosthuizen AMA, David Lamprecht, Maritz Wessels, Otto van Greunen
76 – Jason Ackerman AMA, Allan Versfeld, Wynand Dingle, Wim Grobler, Matthew Adams AMA, Niel Meyer
77 – Khaya Jika, Glen de Waal (NAM), Zander Potgieter AMA, Reynhard Reynecke AMA, Marc Van Deventer AMA, Dougie Meijer, Beyers Smith, Christiaan Jonck, Leon Vorster AMA
78 – Neil Cheetham (ENG), Dylan Docherty AMA, Michael Jooste AMA, Paul Cuningham, Murray Smit, Chris Haefele, Patrick Newcomb (USA), PG Van der Linde, Tung- nan Lin AMA (TWN)
79 – Jacques De Villiers AMA, Ruan Potgieter AMA, Marc De Jager AMA, Justin Levy (NLD), Edoardo Torrieri (ITA)
80 – Arthur Horne (SWA), Shaun van Tonder, Cameron Gunning, Tjaart Van Wyk AMA
81 – Wayne Stroebel, CJ Levey AMA, Hilton Hughes AMA, Werner Lourens AMA, Johan Buys AMA
82 – Marais Visagie, Keanan Aysen AMA, Devan Payne AMA
83 – Juan De Bruin AMA, Christopher De Beer AMA, Tommie Brits AMA, Jacques de Villiers
84 – Rhoan Gardiner, Shane Scheepers, Victor Kau, Drickus Coetzer AMA
85 – Lourens Du Plessis, Corne Bloem, Melchior Raath AMA, Daniel Steenkamp AMA
86 – David Marks AMA
87 – John Henry Bartlett AMA
92 – Tristan Webel AMA
Missed the cut:-
N/R – TJ Bekker, Kyle Bennett
RTD – Lucas Steyn