26th January 2015 | IGT Challenge Tour
IGT Tour Development the big winner at Q-School
JOHANNESBURG, 26 January 2015 – Danie van Tonder and Haydn Porteous are widely regarded as two of South Africa’s brightest golfing prospects and both players showed why they are so highly though off with spectacular performances in 2014.
Former SA number one amateur Van Tonder completed the season ranked second with earnings of R3,847,886, while two-time SA Amateur Stroke Play champion Porteous followed in Van Tonder’s footsteps to lift the 2014 Rookie of the Year title with earnings of R711,197.
Both players were ranked number one in the South African Golf Association’s rankings before they turned pro, both players won the Sunshine Tour’s Rookie of Year and both players followed the same route into the paid ranks.
Van Tonder campaigned full time on the IGT Tour in 2011, winning 10 times in his 18 starts, before he earned his card for the 2012 Sunshine Tour, while Porteous plied his trade on the country’s premier development Tour to prepare for his pro debut in the European Tour’s Russian Open last year.
“Danie and Haydn have set the bar and I will have some huge shoes to fill, but I’m definitely going to give it a shot,” said the 18-year-old Sesambos golfer after his one shot victory in the 90-hole examination in Bloemfontein.
In 2014, Du Plessis represented the country in the Africa Youth Games, in a Test against France and in the annual Triangular against the SAGDB and Scottish team. He was a member of the victorious South African team that claimed the country’s 16th consecutive title in the All-Africa Junior Golf Championship and represented the country in the Toyota Junior World Cup.
Between his amateur commitments, Du Plessis campaigned on the IGT Tour and reeled in a joint runner-up finish, three third places, a fourth place and two six place finishes in 11.
“The IGT Tour’s commissioner, Cois du Plooy, wouldn’t let me turn pro,” Du Plessis said.
“He encouraged me to keep my amateur status until I was absolutely certain, so I turned pro after the IGT Q-School Prep at Centurion Country Club in January.
“I felt I was adequately prepared to challenge in Bloemfontein, but if I failed, I would have played the IGT Tour and the Big Easy Tour this year.
“The IGT Tour is a great platform to cut your teeth on and to improve your course management. It doesn’t matter if you play with a seasoned guy like Brett Liddle, Michael Scholz or Neil Cheetham from England, or with Sunshine Tour players like Ockie Strydom, Jacques Kruyswijk or Jaco Ahlers.
“You are always learning and improving. I still have a lot to learn, but I am really looking forward to the challenge ahead.”
The Sunshine Tour awarded a total of 33 cards and Du Plessis was among 24 IGT Tour players who secured playing privileges for the 2015 Sunshine Tour at Bloemfontein Golf Club.
Du Plooy, who has been monitoring his players’ performances since 2010, said this year’s results are especially encouraging
“Our aim is to deliver well-prepared players to the Sunshine Tour and I believe we are getting better at our job every year,” he said.
“Last year, 25 of our regular players earned cards, but we only had nine rookies in the mix. Haydn won the Rookie Race, while Rhys West, Callum Mowat, JC Richie and Eddie Taylor all kept their cards. They finished third, fourth, seventh and eighth respectively in the final standings.
“This year we had 17 rookies and seven players who previously held cards on the Sunshine Tour. We had 44 players in the top 60 for the final round and nine of our players finished in the top 10.
“Four of the eight international players who secured their cards were also IGT Tour regulars, including Antonio Rosado from Portugal, who won five times last year, DK Kim from South Korea, Italy’s Alessandro Grammatica and Englishman Henry Featherstone.
“I am really pleased with the result. It bodes well for golf development and the future of the game in South Africa.”
The IGT Tour players also dominated the statistics at Q-School.
Du Plessis, Rourke van der Spuy, who tied for third with Lombard, and IGT Tour regular Ryan Huyshamen from Namibia led the birdie count with 25 each.
Five-time IGT Tour winner Zander Lombard fired an eight under 64 at Schoemans Park to post the low round of the tournament, while Philip Kruse notched the most eagles – two at Schoemans Park and three at Bloemfontein Golf Club.
The 2015 IGT Tour season kicks off with the Summer Swing at Centurion Country Club from 10-12 February.
PHOTOS – Sunshine Tour Qualifying School winner, Hennie du Plessis and the Qualifying School class of 2015; credit IGT Tour.