20th February 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour
Mabilane makes his move at Randpark
RANDPARK, 20 February 2017 – Jabulani Mabilane barely had enough time to stick a peg in the ground and fire his tee shot down the first hole as time ran out on his 11h00 start in the IGT Challenge Tour’s Race to Q-School #17 at Randpark Golf Club on Monday.
The 19-year-old Nelspruit golfer negated a bogey-bogey start with a brace of birdies at the third and fourth holes and four birdies down the back nine at the Firethorn Course gained Mabilane a share of the four-way tie at four-under-par 68.
Mabilane shares the top spot with Gilson Filho from Brazil, Jacques de Villiers and amateur Paul Colditz and the quartet leads by one shot from Jonathan Waschefort, Tristen Strydom, Paul Boshoff and Otto van Greunen.
“This was not the result I imagined when I got to the first tee with seconds to spare and dropped shots at the first two holes,” said the delighted Nelspruit golfer.
“I thought this was going to be a very, very long day. My friend picked me up at the World of Golf but he ran late because of traffic. We were scrambling to make it to Randpark in time and I was so hurried that I made a terrible mess of the first hole.
“My tee shot went into the rough left and I hooked my second into the trees. All I could do was punch out. I got a lucky bounce to finish short of the green, chipped and made the bogey putt. I’ve never played this course and I couldn’t afford to play a practice round, so I didn’t really know where to go at the second. I opted to go left and finished in the water. It was a wet and wild start, but luckily I turned things around with the birdies at three and four.”
Mabilane wanted to play it safe at the third after dropping two shots and he aimed to finish short of the bunker, but he put a little too much strength behind the shot and plugged in the bunker.
“I hit a fantastic trap shot from 130 metres to six feet and made the birdie putt, and that give me a little boost,” he said. “I two-putted the par five to get myself back to level and picked up another birdie at the eighth to turn one under.”
A trio of birdies from 12 to 14 took him to the front of the pack, and he overturned a three-putt bogey at 12 with birdie at 17.
“I had lip-outs at seven and 16 and missed a really short one at nine, so it could have been better, but who is complaining,” Mabilane said. “The way the day started I never imagined I’d be tied for the lead. I was just hoping to finish well enough to make the cut tomorrow.”
Mabilane turned pro at the end of 2015, but his first season was hampered by financial restraints.
“My parents are funding me and things were tight last year, so I only played the Big Easy Tour and a few IGT Challenge Tour events,” he said. “They were able to put money away for me to send me to Johannesburg this year. I’m staying in Klipfontein and playing all the Race to Q-Schools until the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School in March. Hopefully I make it. At least I’m into the final stage after the Vusi Ngubeni. And I’m getting a really good look at the course this week.
“I want to show my parents that the investment in me is worth it, but it’s a lot of added pressure. I hope I can at least play my way into the Gary Player Class of 2018 next year. If I don’t make it at Q-School this year, I’m going to play IGT full time and the Big Easy Tour. It’s amazing how much you learn and the experience will help me a lot.”