28th November 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour

Lawrence leads with birdie barrage at State Mines

(PHOTO – Thriston Lawrence; credit CJ du Plooy)

BRAKPAN, 28 November 2017 – For a second day running, the leaderboard in the eighth event of the IGT Challenge Tour Race to Q-School Series was awash in red numbers.

Near perfect conditions at State Mines Country Club on Tuesday made for a feast of birdies and the man leading the charge was Thriston Lawrence from Mpumalanga.

The former two-time Sanlam SA Amateur champion golfer fired eight birdies and boxed an eagle putt at the par-five seventh to stand at 11-under-par 133 after adding an impressive nine-under 63 to an opening round of 70.

Lawrence enjoyed a breakthrough victory on the Mena Golf Tour in the United Arab Emirates in 2016 and the 20-year-old Nelspruit golfer added a maiden IGT Challenge Tour title to his winning tally in the final event of the 2017 Race to Q-School in February.

The stage is set for an exciting final round, though, with seasoned veteran John McClean from Ireland and Tristen Strydom hot on his heels and five more within four shots of the lead.

McClean has only dropped one shot in 36-holes after signing for a flawless 68.

Strydom – a three-time IGT Challenge Tour champion – erased bogeys at three and six with birdies at four and seven to turn level, but the Pretoria golfer racked up four birdies and eagled the par-five 15th to soar to a tie for second with a 66.

“I am looking forward to going head-to-head with Thriston again,” said Strydom, who spent the last four months playing the development circuit in the United States.

“We represented South Africa a few times, but we were also rivals as amateurs, so it should be great fun to play together again and John is always great company. It could go down the wire. I think that the leaderboard will be quite tight over the front nine and thinks should get very interesting down the back stretch.”

Meanwhile overnight leader Louis Albertse followed an opening 66 with a 70. The KwaZulu-Natal amateur finished at eight-under 136 in a tie for fourth with local amateur JP Rousseau.

A definite crowd favourite, Rousseau shared the lead with Lawrence through 15 holes after an eagle at the par-four fourth and six birdies, but lost his footing and registered a round of 67 after a bogey at 16 and a double bogey finish.

Another player who went around the track in Brakpan in flawless style was Roberto Lupini.

A 66 could signal a third visit to the winner’s circle this season for the former Sunshine Tour player, who trails Lawrence by four shots. Lupini shares sixth with two more threatening prospects, Ruan Korb and Rhys West, who posted respective rounds of 68 and 67.

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