17th August 2015 | Big Easy IGT Golf
Mphaga and Swart lead the way at RJK
JOHANNESBURG, 17 August 2015 – IGT Tour winner Juan Swart took early pole position in the first round of the TGSE Academy Classic, but his reign was cut short by Soweto’s Godfrey Mphaga, who forced his way into a share of the lead at three under 69 with a birdie finish at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington’s East Course on Monday.
Swart had a few hiccups, but the Centurion golfer resuscitated his round in pure Dustin Johnson style with eagles at six and 18, while former Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member Mphaga offset a bogey on each nine with birdies at one, four, nine, 11 and 18.
Both players are both heading to the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School in Bloemfontein in December and the Soweto golfer was thrilled to share the lead in his third start on the country’s premier development Tour.
“I’m starting to find my feet and I am comfortable playing with the pros,” said the 20-year-old, who is sponsored by Soweto Country Club.
“I just worry about my own game now and it is going better for me. I like the front nine, but the back nine was tougher for me.
“I was striking the ball well, but it felt like the greens were quicker on the back and I struggled with the pace. It’s a tough course, so it was very good news to hear that I am sharing the lead.”
Swart got off to a solid start with a birdie at the par-five opening hole, but wiped out the advantage with three-putt bogeys at three and five.
“I hit a good drive at the sixth and I had 190 meters in, but hit my five-iron too long and it settled just off the green,” said 24-year-old Port Elizabeth native.
“I decided to putt from 25 feet and I caught it perfectly for the first eagle. You have to take advantage of the par fives at the East Course, but I missed an opportunity at the eighth. After the birdie at 14 and the drop at 16, I wanted to get that last eagle at 18.
“After a good drive, I hit seven-iron from 146 meters to 10 feet and made the putt to redeem myself.”
Swart’s maiden IGT Tour win in the Pro Squad Classic at Centurion Country Club in June brought about some big changes.
“I realised at that tournament just how unfit I was,” he said. “My coach, Kevin Phelan from TuksSport, suggested that I see Gavin Groves at the TuksSport High Performance Centre.
“He worked out a programme for me to increase my flexibility and to build the right muscles for golf and endurance. I’ve worked incredibly hard in the last two months and I was amazed how much easier it was out there for me.”
Swart and Mphaga will carry a three stroke lead into the second round over GFG Academy pair Simon Kruger and Centurion Country Club amateur CJ Levey.
Matthew Vogel, buoyed by a top seven finish in last week’s CA Academy Classic at Wingate Park Country Club, played his way into the bus at one over with Christiaan Pretorius and amateurs Joubert van Eeden and Morne Wolmarans.
Reigning Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur champion Carrie Park and Sunshine Ladies Tour regulars Bonita Bredenhann and Michelle Leigh were also TGSE Academy Classic starters.
Park from the GFG Academy opened with a 76, Bredenhann from Namibia – on a break from the Ladies European Tour – carded an 80, while Leigh returned an 84.
FIRST ROUND SCORES
All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified; amateurs indicated as (AMA):
69 – Juan Swart, Godfrey Mphaga
72 – Simon Kruger, CJ Levey (AMA)
73 – Joubert van Eeden (AMA), Christiaan Pretorius, Matthew Vogel, Morne Wolmarans (AMA)
74 – Keaton Slatter (AMA), Matthew Adams (AMA), Michael Kok (AMA), Bryce McCabe, Thriston Lawrence, Danie Pretorius, Amerigo Renieri (AMA), Derryn Mitri (AMA)
75 – Christopher de Beer (AMA), Wicus Bezuidenhout (AMA), Graham van der Merwe, Niel Meyer
76 – Michael Armstrong (AMA), Dougie Meijer, Jan-Louis Nel (AMA), Michael Petersen (AMA), Carrie Park (AMA), Ricardo Towell
77 – Stephan Erasmus (AMA), Joshua Leo (AMA)
78 – Herman Minnie, Maxime Deffontaine (AMA) (BEL), Marc van Deventer (AMA)
79 – Adam Baker (AMA), Cole Dodgen (AMA), Jacques De Villiers (AMA), Hein Dreyer (AMA), Duan Nagel (AMA), Vico Kuhn, Ryan Wingrove (AMA), Vincent Mienie (AMA)
80 – Bonita Bredenhann NAM
81 – Nathan Holiday, Nikola Uskokovic (AMA)
82 – Heinrich Venter (AMA)
83 – Richard Tsai (AMA), Jabu Radebe, Michael Jooste (AMA), Dwayne Coetzee
84 – Gregory Beltramo, Michelle Leigh
85 – Keanan Aysen (AMA)
86 – Adriano Salgado (AMA)
89 – Rob Veldhuizen (AMA)
92 – Gary Jutzen (AMA)
94 – JP Basson (AMA)