6th January 2015 | IGT Challenge Tour
IGT Tour champions rule at SA Open Qualifiers
(PHOTOS – Jacques Kruyswijk, Russel Franz and Antonio Rosado; credit CJ du Plooy)
JOHANNESBURG, 6 January 2015 – IGT Tour champions Jacques Kruyswijk, Russel Franz and Antonio Rosado from Portugal came up trumps in the three qualifiers for the 104th South African Open Championship, while six more IGT Tour graduates or regular campaigners earned a start in the world’s second oldest Open championship that tees off at Glendower Golf Club on Thursday.
That number could swell when the suspended five-way play-off at Zwartkop Country Club resumes on Wednesday morning.
Regular campaigners TJ Bekker, Tom Watson and IGT Tour winner Andi Dill could boost the IGT Tour tally to 11 when they battle Pieter Moolman and Western Province amateur Luke Trocado for the last two spots on offer.
Kruyswijk romped to a flawless seven-under-par 65 to win the qualifier at Irene Country Club, finished one stroke ahead of seasoned Springs pro, Kenneth Dube.
The 22-year-old Centurion golfer is relishing the chance to go for gold at Glendower where, just two months ago, he claimed a one stroke victory in the IGT Tour’s Battle of the Giants.
Although he has not seen the course since November, Kruyswijk has an inkling of what to expect thanks to IGT Tour tournament director Cois du Plooy and Glendower greenkeeper Mike Burnhard.
“During the Battle of the Giants, Cois and Mike did the course set-up with a view to the SA Open to give us a taste of what to expect and to give the amateurs that are thinking about turning pro a really good work out,” Kruyswijk said.
“Looking back, I’m really glad they did that. I’ve heard the fairways are even tighter and the rough is even more penal than in November. You expect a tough set-up because it’s the SA Open and I can’t wait to get a look at the course on Wednesday.
“I’ll play nine holes to get a feel for the set-up and work on my short game to get used to the speed of the greens. I’m so happy to qualify with some form. I just want to make the most of this opportunity.”
Kevin Stone – a regular IGT Tour campaigner in 2013 – finished third on five under 67, while the final spot went to 2014 IGT Tour campaigner Ryan Tipping, who came up trumps in a play-off against Race to Asian Q-School champion, Bryn Flanagan.
Franz joined the pro ranks after back-to-back victories in the IGT Tour’s Race to the USA at Wingate Park and Krugersdorp Golf Club in May last year.
The lanky Pretoria golfer is heading for the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School at the end of January and was equally thrilled to be going to Glendower after winning the Kempton Park qualifier.
“This is really a dream come true for me,” Franz said. “The experience alone is going to be amazing and it will definitely help my quest at Q-School.”
The GFG Academy player notched five birdies and an eagle for a six under 66. He finished one stroke ahead of IGT Tour graduate and fellow Pretoria pro, Tokkie van den Berg.
The last three spots at Kempton Park were also decided in a five-way play-off.
Sunshine Tour rookie Rhys West, a two-time IGT Tour winner in 2013, Eric van Rooyen and IGT Tour winner Morne Buys handed seasoned pro Grant Muller and another regular IGT Tour campaigner, amateur Burger Heckroodt, their marching orders.
The 18-hole qualifier at Zwartkops meant Rosado could not launch one of his patented final round charges that carried him into the winner’s circle five times on the country’s premier development Tour in 2014.
But the 29-year-old Villamoura golfer simply put his foot on the accelerator and didn’t let up until he reeled in eight birdies for a six-under-par 65 and a podium finish.
Rosado finished one stroke clear of 2013 IGT Tour graduate Ettienne Bond and 2011 Zimbabwe Open champion, Theunis Spangenberg.