11th April 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour
Nethunzwi in hot pursuit of Bremner at Kyalami
(PHOTO – Musi Nethunzwi; credit CJ du Plooy)
JOHANNESBURG, 11 April 2017 – Merrick Bremner surged into the lead in the Kyalami Challenge courtesy of a pair of eagles, but the five-time Sunshine Tour winner will have Musi Nethunzwi from the Gary Player Class of 2017 in close pursuit as he targets back-to-back IGT Challenge Tour titles on Wednesday.
Fuelled by his Waterkloof Challenge victory last week, Bremner fired a blistering eight-under-par 64 in Tuesday’s second round to move to 12 under 132.
The Investec Property player pencilled in threes at the par five fifth and 13th holes, birdies at one, two, six, 15 and 18 and a lone bogey at 12 to finish two shots ahead of Nethunzwi, who was equally impressive with a flawless exhibition at the championship layout in Midrand.
Tied with Bremner at four under at the start of round two, he turned six under after a brace of birdies at the third and fourth holes. An eagle at 13 and further gains at 15 and 18 for a 66 helped the 27-year-old Soweto golfer to second and he leads by one from first round leader Tyron McComb, who returned a 72.
“I holed a six-footer for birdie at four and rolled my first putt at the fifth to tap-in distance,” Nethunzwi said. “The 13th played straight into the wind, so I took driver off the tee and had 189 metres left to the pin. I hit a five-iron to four feet and holed the putt. I holed an eight footer for birdie at 15 and hit a seven-iron pin-high left at 18 and two-putted for the birdie.
“The greens are running very true and they hold the line really well. I only missed one fairway and that was at 18. I hit 16 greens in regulation, so I’m really happy with the state of my game. This is great preparation for the Zimbabwe Open next week and Zambia after.”
Before Nethunzwi turned pro, he earned a berth on the South African team for the 2012 Africa Zone VI Golf Championships on merit and left for Malawi with Brandon Stone, Haydn Porteous, Zander Lombard, Shaun Smith, Drikus Bruyns, CJ du Plessis and Gert Myburgh. He made a dream start in his debut for South Africa, beating his Tanzanian opponent 7&6 and helping the team to a 12th successive victory in the premier African team championship.
Nethunzwi earned his Sunshine Tour card at the 2013 Vusi Ngubeni Qualifying School, but struggled to adjust to the pace and standard of the pro ranks. In December last year, he was selected for the Gary Player Class of 2017 programme and the Modderfontein golfer believes that campaigning on the country’s premier golf development circuit has been hugely beneficial.
“I felt I was ready for the pro ranks, but I really wasn’t mature enough to handle all the pressure,” Nethunzwi said. “I heard people say that the IGT Challenge Tour is the bridge between amateur and pro golf and I believe it. Since I’ve been playing here, I’ve been improving week-on-week.
“Two weeks ago, Sipho (Bujela) and I tied for eighth in the Wanderers Betterball and last week I shot 10 under to tie for 10th in the Waterkloof Challenge. Every week I see some improvement and my confidence is coming back.
“This is my best I’ve done so far and this is what I’ve been playing for; to be in the top five and to compete against the best players. That’s why I’m really looking forward to playing with Merrick and Tyron in the final round. Great players always motivate you to work harder, dig deeper and focus longer and that’s what I need right now to take my game up another notch.”
The trio at the top lead a high quality chasing pack, including Sunshine Tour campaigners Erik van Rooyen at eight under and JC Ritchie at seven under. IGT Challenge Tour winner Andi Dill sits at six under and 2017 Sunshine Tour Qualifying School winner Herman Loubser moved to seventh at five under with a three-under 69.