23rd May 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour
Mediratta makes his move at Firethorn
(PHOTO – Mohit Mediratta; credit CJ du Plooy)
RANDPARK, Johannesburg (23 May 2017) – Mohit Mediratta eagled the par five fifth at the Firethorn Course on his way to a stunning six-under-par 66 and a share of the three-way tie for the lead in his first start on the IGT Challenge Tour on Tuesday.
The 22-year-old Kenyan-born golfer moved to seven under 137 at the Randpark Firethorn Challenge and he will start the final round of in unfamiliar territory when he tees it up alongside former winner Clinton Grobler and Pretoria rookie Estiaan Conradie.
“I’ve played maybe 10 IGT Challenge Tour events since 2014, but I’ve never been in the lead, so that’s a bit of a change,” said Mediratta, who plays out of Royal Johannesburg and Kensington and represents the Central Gauteng Golf Union.
“I don’t think it has to be a big deal. I don’t have any expectations and I don’t feel added pressure. I’m having a great time and I just want to enjoy the experience on Wednesday. I come to play here to stay competitive between amateur events and to learn. And that’s how I will handle the final round.”
Mediratta birdied the second before he popped in a short putt for the eagle.
“I hit 2-iron both days at the second and made birdie, but the eagle was a bit of a bonus,” he said. “I hit driver off the tee and I was between a 5- and a 6-iron for my second. I punched a 5-iron and the moment I hit it, I knew it was good. It finished less than a foot from the hole.
“I hit two good shots at the seventh and boxed a 10-footer for another birdie and at the ninth, I hit my drive 15 feet short of the green, chipped and made the putt to turn five under. I wasn’t hitting the shots under a 100 metres well in the first round, so I spent some time on the driving range after the round and it paid off for me.”
At 11, Mediratta holed another 10 footer for birdie and two-putted for yet another gain at the par five 12th to get to eight under, but the putter let him down at 16.
“I had about 25 foot to the flag and I just wanted to lag it close, but the ball raced past the hole and I missed the return,” he said. “It was unfortunate, but I’m happy with the day’s work. It’s nice to be in contention. It’s what we play for, and the experience of playing in the last group will be great for me.”
Grobler from Krugersdorp eagled two par fives for his 66 and both took a bit of work.
“I got my tee shot just past the bunkers on the right at the fourth, and it a 7-iron to the front edge of the green,” said the 2016 Lake Club Challenge winner. “I was on the fringe on the right and the pin was back left, but I nailed that monster putt for the first eagle.
“At 14, I pushed my driver a bit right, but it caught a good bounce and kicked back in the fairway. The pin was on the right. I took 4-iron in, but the ball didn’t kick to the right. When I got there I saw it had plugged in some casual water, so I chipped and it disappeared down the hole.”
Grobler and Mediratta know they have a fight on their hands with Conradie in the mix.
“We all know when Estiaan gets his nose in front he is chasing the trophy,” said Grobler. “He won three times as an amateur last year, so he will be champing at the bit to get that maiden pro win under the belt.”
But the frontrunners will be keeping an eye on the chasing pack, too.
Kyle Barker sits at six under, Heinrich Bruiners from the Gary Player School of 2017 is five under and Makhetha Mazibuko – who lost the PGA Championship title in a play-off – lurks at four under with amateur Theunie Bezuidenhout and first round joint leader Bryce Myburgh.