24th January 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour

Michael makes his move at Ruimsig

RuimsigDay1 (137)(PHOTO – Anthony Michael; credit CJ du Plooy)

ROODEPOORT, 24 January 2017 – Northcliff’s Anthony Michael stepped up his bid to bag another IGT Challenge Tour victory before the start of the Eye of Africa PGA Championship in a fortnight.

The Sunshine Tour campaigner birdied four of his last six holes in the Race to Q-School #13 to race into the 36-hole lead at Ruimsig Country Club on Tuesday.

Although Pretoria amateur pair Philip Kruse and Ruan Korb matched his superb six-under-par 66, no-one could reach the clubhouse target Michael set at 11 under 133 and he will sleep on a confident two-shot cushion over Dainfern’s Matthew Spacy.

Spacey returned a 67 to edge one stroke clear of Kruse, Korb and last week’s champion, Jaco Prinsloo, who also registered a 67. Ockie Strydom, an 11-time IGT Challenge Tour winner, lurks a further shot back at seven under after posting a 67.

Coming off his best season to date on the Sunshine Tour, Michael protected his top 10 ranking on the Order of Merit with a tie for 27th at the recent BMW SA Open.

But the Randpark golfer has big goals for 2017 and victory in the Race to Q-School series will go a long way to building a confident start for the R1.5-million showpiece at The Eye of Africa Signature Golf Estate.

“I’m still hunting a maiden win on the Sunshine Tour and that’s a big goal of mine this year,” said Michael. “And I missed the cut in the Eye of Africa PGA Championship last year, so I definitely want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

A round that featured four birdies on each loop and a bogey a piece was just what the doctor ordered.

“I’m striking the ball really well, although the putter hasn’t really warmed up yes,” he said. “I made some great putts, but I left a few short and those are those niggly ones that count when you are chasing a low score to win.

“I’m definitely going into this season with a lot of confidence, but a win on Wednesday will go a long way in just giving me that extra boost for the Eye of Africa.”

Michael is loving the championship layout at Ruimsig Country Club.

“It’s a stunning course and it’s hosted some top amateur championships, so it’s great to be playing at a strong course like this early in the season,” he said. “It’s also a really great track for the amateurs and the boys heading to Q-School to build some confidence.

“The set-up has been fair and Cois (Du Plooy, commissioner IGT Challenge Tour) has played a few holes right from the back and shortened at least one or two every day, like the 13th in the second round, to give the guys a chance to go for it.

“At the end of the day it doesn’t matter where you put the tees or tuck the pins, you still have to get it in the hole but I think, for the youngsters heading to Q-School in March, a sub-par result at this kind of course will translate into positive confidence.”

And for those struggling to get into red numbers, Michael has this bit of advice.

“You just have to keep plugging away and trust that you’re on your way there,” he said. “I seriously thought about packing it in after three bad seasons, but don’t give up on yourself. Stick with it, because the hard work does pay off.”

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