3rd January 2018 | IGT Challenge Tour
Mazibuko makes a move in Germiston
(PHOTO – Makhetha Mazibuko; credit CJ du Plooy)
GERMISTON, 3 January 2018 – Makhetha ‘Playstation’ Mazibuko fired a five-under-par 67 to lay down a marker at Germiston Golf Club in the opening round of the IGT Challenge Tour’s Race to Q-School on Monday.
The 29-year-old Gary Player Class of 2017 member grabbed a share of the three-way tie at the top of a logjam leaderboard in the 11th tournament of the 18-event Qualifying School prep series.
Mazibuko and amateurs Andre van Heerden and Ruhan van Dijk have a slender one shot advantage over Pretoria rookie Albert Venter and Ulsterman John McClean.
Gary Player Class of 2017 member Omar Sandys and multiple IGT Challenge Tour winners Tristen Strydom, Jason Roets and Roberto Lupini are two off the pace.
Brothers Ruan and Estiaan Conradie – the respective current Money List and Race to Q-School Order of Merit leaders – finished at two under alongside 2017 All India Ladies Amateur Danielle du Toit from Pretoria.
A bogey at the par four eighth cost Mazibuko the outright lead, but the Free State golfer was nevertheless excited to start the 2018 season with a strong performance.
“I finished the season with a top five at Killarney Country Club, but I took a two week break to visit my mom and brother in Qwa-Qwa (Phuthaditjhaba) for Christmas, so I wasn’t sure what to expect this morning said the South African Golf Development Board graduate. “I was really happy to make just the one bogey.
“I made three birdies in a row from three and got to four under with a birdie at seven, but I ran into trouble with club selection at the eighth. I had to take a club out of my bag before the round and I left the gap-wedge in the car. The eighth was really tight, so I went with a three-iron off the tee. The ball was lying high and I didn’t want to go with a sand-wedge and risk overshooting the green.
“I went with the 54 degree and I just got it on the green. Three-putted from there for the bogey. But I followed with four straight pars and birdied the two par fives (13 and 16). I struggled a little with my driver, but I made some great up-and-downs at 11, 12, 15 and 17 to stay bogey-free.”
Van Heerden eagled the par-five 13 to get to six under and Van Dijk matched him with eagles at both par fives, but both amateurs bogeyed the par-four 17th.
“I wasn’t surprised to see that because it is such a tight hole,” said Mazibuko. “I was also in trouble off the tee, but I made a great up-and-down to walk off with par and a share of the lead.”
Mazibuko will be trying to qualify for the BMW SA Open, proudly hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni, at Irene Country Club next Tuesday.
“This layout is really perfect to get the rust off,” he said.
“The greens are very firm and there are some very tight holes on this course, so that’s good practice for Glendower. I’m really grateful that the IGT Challenge Tour started so early to give us a chance to prepare for the qualifier. I’m not focussing on a win this week, but I’ll take it if I can. My biggest goal is to get the driver sorted and to get the putter hot. Hopefully I can keep this form going for two more rounds so I can take some positive vibes to Irene.”