15th May 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour
Lupine tops the pile at Pecanwood
(PHOTO – Roberto Lupini; credit CJ du Plooy)
HARTEBEESPOORT DAM, 15 May 2017 – Roberto Lupini was in a class of his own as his opening seven-under-par 65 gave him a three shot lead in the Pecanwood Challenge on a glorious first day at the Pecanwood Golf Estate near Hartebeespoort Dam.
His flawless performance with five birdies and an eagle at the par five 12th, where he followed a good drive with a five-iron to just a foot of the hole, left Gary Daoust from Belgium and South African pair Matt Bright and Quintin Crause trailing in his wake in the IGT Challenge Tour event.
The 34-year-old was a regular campaigner on the Sunshine Tour, but lost his card at the end of 2015 after battling a shoulder injury. After struggling through injury for seven more months, Lupine went under knife in September, and spent the next five on the bench.
But the Country Club Johannesburg player is showing signs of rediscovering that championship form that saw him collect a Race to Q-School title in 2013.
“I’m very pleased with the performance today,” Lupine said. “I did a helluva lot of work leading to my comeback on the IGT Challenge Tour and it’s gratifying to see pay off.
“I rolled some good putts today, but the key was keeping the ball in play and getting the putts that mattered into the hole. It was great to close off with a birdie at 18 to cap a bogey-free round, especially after turning with two successive birdies and then the eagle at 12.”
Lupini hopes a couple of good months on the IGT Challenge Tour will prepare him for another stab at the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School next year.
“This is the best place for me right now to get myself back to that competitive level so I can play myself back on the Sunshine Tour,” he said. “A round like today is a great place to start.”
Daoust mixed six birdies with a pair of bogeys for his 68, Crause combined an eagle at the par five 15th with three birdies to offset an early drop at the third, and rookie Bright also handed in a clean card with birdies at two, four, nine and 10.
Former Sunshine Tour campaigner Wynand Dingle, Ruan Kord and North West amateur Theunie Bezuidenhout share fifth at three under, while Beyers Smith moved into eighth on his own with a two-under-par 70.