9th May 2016 | IGT Challenge Tour
Matt shines Bright at Houghton Challenge
JOHANNESBURG, 9 May 2016 – Chasing a maiden IGT Tour win, Matt Bright threw his hat in the ring with a first round 69 at Houghton Golf Club and his three-under-par tally put him alongside Simon Kruger in pole position at the Houghton Challenge on Monday.
“It was nice to kick off with a good start and to finish with a bit of momentum. I’m looking to build on that for the rest of the week” said the 22-year-old entrepreneur from Hatfield in Pretoria.
Five birdies pushed Bright into contention with Simon and the pair has a one shot edge over former Sunshine Tour winner Heinrich Bruiners, IGT Tour winner Duane Keun and amateur Derryn Mitri.
Carrie Park lies just two shots shy of the leaders after an opening one under 71 secured the Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie a share of sixth with Coert Groenewald, CJ du Plessis and fellow GFG Academy player Russel Franz.
Bright began with a birdie at the first, but dropped two shots in succession at three and four.
He rallied with birdies at five, seen and nine to turn two under and closed out with a stylish 30-foot birdie putt at the final hole. It was a tough scoring day for the bulk of the field with high wind and tucked pin positions upping the ante, but Bright felt the good start gave him the momentum to ride his way to share of the lead.
“When you are hitting the ball great, the conditions don’t really affect you,” he said.
“I felt comfortable out there. I made a really nice start, despite the three-putt bogey at the par five and I pulled my tee shot left at the fourth. The first couple of birdies was pretty straightforward, but I hit a great shot into the ninth to inside two feet. The wind was right to left and I hit it right and watched the ball curve into the hole.
“Although I hit seven greens in regulation on the back nine, I didn’t hit my approaches in as well as the front nine. On, but not close enough to really give myself any birdie chances. I made a really great putt at 18 for that last birdie to grab a share of the lead, so I’m happy.”
Bright graduated the University of Pretoria in 2014 with a degree in Marketing Management.
He took over a business that he started with his father that same year, which now affords him the financial freedom to pursue his end goal – a Sunshine Tour card for next year.
“It’s a steel fabrication enterprise and we produce things like shelving, tables, clothing rails and such,” Bright explained. “I take my orders online and we produce the goods over the weekend and deliver the next week. A lot of the business is repeat orders and having that regular income has freed me up to focus on golf.
“I spent a few months working at Abu Dhabi Golf Club last year to gain experience and I went to the Asian Q-School at the start of the season, but one bad round cost me. I was hitting the ball well, but I wasn’t really ready; I still think it was a month too early.
“So I came back and ploughed my energy into the business. Getting out from under the financial pressure has definitely had a positive effect on my game. I’m playing with a lot more freedom and swinging it way better. I can’t ask for more right now. I enjoyed it, made some good putts and played well enough to share the lead. I had a bit of a dodgy start, but it came out nicely.”
GFG Academy’s Strydom birdied three and eagled the par five fifth, but gave shots back at seven and nine. He wedged another bogey between more gains at 10, 12 and 13 for his 69.
Brenden Britten leads the five-man contention from Namibia with an opening 74.
The 20-year-old from Tshumeb Golf Club eagled the par five fifth to get into early contention, but a handful of bogeys on the back nine saw him finish in a tie for 20th.