28th December 2014 | IGT Challenge Tour
IGT Tour success affirms SA golfing renaissance
JOHANNESBURG (29 December 2014) – As we draw the curtain on 2014, the IGT Tour looks back at a another successful season during which records were set, new events were launched and a band of new stars in the making were crowned.
“From the revival of professional careers to the hugely encouraging performances of young professionals and the emergence of young amateurs, there can be no doubt that our Tour is growing healthier at all levels,” said IGT Tour commissioner Cois du Plooy.
“We had 15 first time winners this season and it was very encouraging to see come of South Africa’s top amateurs like Matthew Spacey, Louis Taylor, Andy Dill, Hendrikus Stoop, Tristen Strydom and England’s Toby Tree among the new champions.”
Strydom, who rose to second in the country’s national amateur rankings with a clutch of victories and top 10 finishes, broke into the winner’s circle on the country’s premier development Tour during the Race to Q-School at Benoni Country Club in November.
“Winning the IGT Tour Race to Q-School was definitely one of the highlights of my season,” the 17-year-old said. “There are times when things don’t go your way and you can start doubting yourself. When I teed it up in Benoni, I struggled with an ice cold putter. But I still beat the professionals and that win confirmed my belief that this is what I was born to do.
“But it’s not all about the competitive experience, though. We often sit in the lounge or halfway house with the pros and listen to them share their stories about life on Tour. We laugh, but we listen, because these stories are pearls of wisdom.”
Rookie professionals Tyron Mc Comb and Bryn Flanagan celebrated maiden success, while Russel Franz, Werner van Niekerk, Jacques de Villiers and Hyun Park from Korea doubled up on visits to the winner’s circle this season.
Former number one ranked amateur Zander Lombard completed his warm-up for the pro ranks by adding two more IGT Tour trophies to his groaning mantle, Sunshine Tour regular Ockie Strydom celebrated four victories, while Antonio Rosado from Portugal is primed to take his game to the Sunshine Tour after five podium finishes.
Over the course of 37 tournaments, the IGT Tour paid out R2,359,162 in prize money this season. But, as Jaco Ahlers will tell you, it’s not the cheques that matter.
Buoyed by a top four finish in the IGT Battle of the Giants at Glendower in November, the seasoned Sunshine Tour pro carried that confidence into a three-way play-off victory at the Lion of Africa Cape Town Open a week later.
“I played the Battle of the Giants to stay sharp and focussed for Royal Cape,” he said. “I always enjoy the tussle between the Sunshine Tour pros, the IGT Tour regulars and the amateurs. The IGT Tour keeps us in shape and keeps the rust off and hopefully, some of what we do rubs off on the youngsters.”
Meanwhile two low rounds in the sixties for victory in the IGT Tour Series Silver Lakes provided the momentum for two play-off wins on the Sunshine Tour for Louis de Jager and a podium finish in the Race to the USA at Irene Country Club was a shot in the arm for celebrated trick shot specialist Michael Scholz.
“The talent coming through is tremendous and the standard gets higher all the time,” he said.
“It gets harder to win, so it’s really satisfying when you can pull one through against the young pros and amateurs competing on the IGT Tour.
“Judging by the talent I’ve seen on display this season, South Africa is in for another purple patch on the international stage in a few years.”
2014 IGT TOUR STATS
Average field size: 77 players
Winner’s average: 10.86 strokes under par
Best stroke average: 69.16 – Zander Lombard
Driving Accuracy: 76.80% – Tristen Strydom
Greens in regulation: 80.97% – Werner Van Niekerk
Putting Ave by Round: 28.35 – Ockie Strydom
Most Birdies: 353 – Werner Van Niekerk
Ave Birdies per Round: 5.11 – Zander Lombard
Most Eagles: 19 – Werner Van Niekerk
Best Scrambling: 61.99% – Hyun Park
Lowest 54 hole score: 18 under – Ockie Strydom
Lowest 18 hole score: 63 (shared by nine players)
Most birdies in one event: 24 – Callum Mowatt
Most consecutive birdies: 7 – Mike Downes
Toto Thimba; Pieter Kruger; Hyun Park; Bryandrew Roelofsz; Ockie Strydom; Khaya Jika; Armandt Scholtz; Carlos Arroyo; Kirsten Campbell; Theodor Oosthuizen; Brendan Britten