9th May 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour
Mofokeng motors into contention at State Mines
(PHOTO – David Mofokeng; credit CJ du Plooy)
PRETORIA, 9 May 2017 – Anton Haig set up a fifth IGT Challenge Tour victory with a sublime second round 64 at State Mines Country Club, but it was David Mofokeng and Sipho Bujela who wore the biggest smiles at the State Mines Challenge on Tuesday.
The 36-year-old Mofokeng from Lesotho shot four-under-par 68 to move within three shots of Haig’s 36-hole target at nine under 135, while Vusi Ngubeni Q-School winner Bujela from the Gary Player Class of 2017 fired a five under 67 to finish at three under.
Haig – who collected his fourth IGT Challenge Tour title at Killarney Country Club last week – posted loops of 33 and 31. His front nine featured five birdies and a double bogey at two and his back nine boasted four birdies and an eagle at the par five 15th.
Mofokeng was one off the pace at two under at the start of the second round and made three straight pars before he drained a huge putt at the fourth to kick start a little birdie feast.
“I knocked a lob-wedge from 38 metres to 20 feet and holed it and hit another lob-wedge to 30 feet at the five and holed the putt for another birdie,” said the Clarence golfer.
“At six, I hit it to 15 feet and made the putt and at seven, I putted from off the green to two feet and boxed the putt for my fourth birdie in a row. That run gave me some nice momentum and parred the last two holes before the turn.
“I missed the green at 10, but I hit a great flop-shot. It looked like it was going to drop, but the ball hit another player’s marker. I lagged it close and tapped in for another birdie. I lost it in the trees at the next hole and dropped and bogeyed 14 when I pushed my driver right into the bush.
“I recovered quickly with a birdie at the next par five and I was unlucky not to birdie 16. I had a downhill putt, left to right, and it slipped past the hole. One ball left and it would have dropped.”
Mofokeng is campaigning on the country’s premier golf development circuit to navigate his way to the Sunshine Tour next season.
“I’m really pleased to have shot two sub-par rounds,” he said. “You need to put yourself near the leaders if you want to learn to win, because the pressure is much harder in front. The only way to learn to win, is to put yourself in there with a chance every week.”
Bujela was just as pleased with his five under effort.
“I was disappointed with the 74 on Monday and it feels really good to have turned it around,” said the 27-year-old Modderfontein golfer, who mixed four birdies with two bogeys on the front nine and eagled the par-five 15th before he racked up another birdie at 17.
“The tee at 15 was moved forward, which meant that if I went with the driver, I could end up with tree trouble. The three-wood was a good choice, even though I hit it slightly right. I hit a seven-iron but I came up short of the green, but when I saw my ball, I knew I liked it. I hit the chip perfectly and got it in the hole for eagle.
“I actually chipped in at the first hole – a high flop-shot that I timed just right – and that kind of set the tone for the round. It was a good ball striking day overall and my short irons were good. I just stayed patient out there when the putts didn’t drop after the turn, but pars are good, too. It’s nice to finish in red numbers and have a chance for a top five finish on Wednesday.”
Meanwhile joint overnight leaders Breyten Meyer (67) and Bennie van der Merwe (68) finished at eight under and seven under respectively, while Jason Roets returned a 71 to slip to joint fifth at four under.