30th May 2016 | IGT Challenge Tour
Great expectations for Zwartkop Match Play
TSHWANE, 30 May 2016 – Belgium’s Gary Daoust led the seeding qualifier for the IGT Tour’s Zwartkop Match Play Championship on Monday with a six-under-par 65 at Zwartkops Country Club.
As many of the amateurs that made the grade, Daoust approaches the event with a degree of confidence, because it the format is a novelty on the country’s premier development Tour and unfamiliar territory for most of the professionals.
“The amateurs will definitely be more at home with the cut and thrust of match play, as it is still very much part of the amateur circuit,” Daoust said. “Even the rookies will have played a lot of match play last year, but it will be an adjustment for the guys who have been on the Sunshine Tour a couple of years.
“But everyone is very excited about this format. It makes for a really nice change from the regular stroke play events and it will definitely force all the participants to sharpen up their killer instincts.”
Anton Haig – a three-time IGT Tour winner this season – was hard-pressed to remember when last he played a competitive match play event.
“Jeez, I think the last time I played match play was in Inter-Provincial for Central Gauteng before I turned pro,” Haig said. “The last time I won at match play was the 2003 South African Amateur Championship, so I’m going to have to knuckle down. The first guy I’m playing is LJ Lowies, a student at the Golf Management Campus (GMC) here at Zwartkop. He probably plays the course every day, so it’s going to be tough from the start.”
But Haig showed some of that old competitive spirit that took him to the number one spot in the SA amateur rankings 13 years ago when he and playing partner Justin Turner produced rounds of 63, 60 and 64 at Zwartkop to finish sixth in the GMC Doubles in March.
“Trust Dale Hayes to come up with these initiatives,” Haig said. “That GMC Doubles was so much fun. It is really nice to have these types of events to break up the monotony of the stroke play tournaments.
“Match play is definitely about confidence and making birdies. You have to go for it more than stroke play, so it’s a mental change, but I’m not sure that the youngsters will have an edge over us golden oldies, because we all love the one-on-one nature of match play.”
The two Conradie brothers – Estiaan and Ruan – from Wingate Park are firm favourites for this event.
Not only did Estiaan claim his third IGT Tour victory in the Wingate Challenge last week, but both players were bankers for the Gauteng North team that defeated Central Gauteng by half a games point for the Challenge Cup title two weeks ago.
Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie Carrie Park shot a three-under-par 68 in the qualifier and her tie for fourth got her a first round date with Alex Knoop from GMC.
“A few bad swings can cost you everything in match play, but at the same time, you definitely have to play more aggressively,” said Park. “It’s a mental game. The quicker you make birdies, the quicker you can put pressure on your opponent and force him to make mistakes.”
Other CMR students who made the top 64 include Frankie Bosman, Aaron Lugtenburg, Carel du Plessis, Neal Hauptfleisch and Christopher van der Merwe.
Meanwhile Park’s GFG Academy stable-mate Ivanna Samu will go head-to-head with seasoned campaigner John McClean from Northern Ireland. Samu, who lost the final of the Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Championship to Park last year, is relishing the battle.
“In stroke play you can still have a friendly chat with your playing partners, but in match play, you go for the jugular,” said Samu. “I’m coming for him.”
Former Sunshine Tour player Coert Groenewald is also relishing the change in pace.
“I wasn’t on the Sunshine Tour yet when they had the ISPS Handa SA Disabled Match Play tournament back in 2012,” said the former IGT Tour Race to Q-School winner. “I’m a huge fan of match play, so I’m really excited to get this underway. I’m playing Damian Naicker in the first round and he is a tough nut, so I think it is going to be a cracker.”
The tournament gets underway on Tuesday with 64 players vying over 18 holes each for 32 spots in the second round, which will be played in the afternoon session.
On Wednesday morning, the top eight will go toe-to-toe in the quarter-finals and Thursday afternoon’s semi-final session will determine the finalists for Thursday, as well as the two players contesting for third and fourth.