27th February 2018 | IGT Challenge Tour
James gives chase in Randpark Race to Q-School
(PHOTO – Mark James; credit CJ du Plooy)
RANDPARK, 27 February 2018 – International campaigners Fredrik From and Mark James both took route 66 at Randpark Golf Club on Tuesday and pulled clear of the chasing pack in the second round of the final event in the Race to Q-School Series.
In his second start on the IGT Challenge Tour, From swept into pole position with eight birdies, including five on the back nine of the Firethorn Course. The Swedish golfer leads the field at 12-under, and is two shots clear of James from England.
Duane Keun carded successive rounds of 68 to lead the local challenge at eight under, while joint overnight leader Matt Bright went around in 72 strokes to finish a further stroke back in a tie for fourth with Mpumalanga amateur Ruhan van Dijk, who also fired a 66.
From brought some good form to South Africa and notched top five finish in his debut at The Els Club Copperleaf last week.
James, meanwhile battled a balky putter for a share of 22nd, however, the Sussex golfer was smiling broadly after day two at Randpark.
“I got the flat-stick going finally and had a really great putting round,” said the 27-year-old PGA Teaching Professional. “I hit it just the same as last week, but I had about 10 three-putts less.”
James got off to a fast start with an eagle at the par five second and birdies at three and four kept the positive momentum going. “I hit a solid drive down the fairway at the second and knocked a 6-iron from 190 metres out to seven foot and sank the putt,” he said. “At three, I hit it to eight feet and I was on the green for two at the fourth and left in the jaws for another eagle.
“Made another good birdie at six to turn five under and then the putter went cold a little for the next four holes. Boxed another short putt for birdie at 14 and nearly holed out at 15. The ball pitched an inch from the hole and stayed put.
“Had my only three-putt of the day at 16, but overall, it was a solid round and I’m keen to see what I can produce in the final round.
James also competed in a few IGT Challenge Tour events last year, but this year there is significantly more pressure.
“This is a really great tour to play, especially during the British winter and I decided to come out and try for the Sunshine Tour this year,” he said. “I gave up my teaching job at Pyecombe and came out three weeks ago to prepare for the Qualifying School, but I had a terrible start.
“I was struggling with vertigo and nausea at Killarney, but at least I played three rounds, so I have a good idea what to expect at First Stage. Last week was better, but not great because the putter was so cold, but I’m pretty pleased with the game right now. I an eagle and three birdies over the same stretch of holes on round one and today gave me some good confidence to take into the final round.”
Another Englishman also teed it up at Randpark, hoping to shake off the winter rust.
In 2013, Jimmy Mullen and Matt Fitzpatrick were the only amateurs to make the weekend in the Open, and the Devon golfer made his pro debut in the 2015 Alfred Dunhill Links right after he won all four his matches to help Great Britain and Ireland to victory in the 2015 Walker Cup.
Rounds of 75 and 71 will see the 25-year-old Mullen start the final round in joint 35th.