26th June 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour
Nothing dull about Bright’s effort at Woodhill
(PHOTO – Ruan Conradie; credit CJ du Plooy)
TSHWANE, 26 June 2017 – Pretoria’s Matt Bright produced a flawless eight-under-par 64 at Woodhill Country Club to seize the first round lead in the Woodhill Challenge on Monday.
The 23-year-old entrepreneur drained birdie putts at the second, third and fifth holes to set the tone for his 10th start on the IGT Challenge Tour this season and followed a trio of gains from 11 with an eagle two at 14 to open up a two shot lead on Wingate rookie Ruan Conradie.
Another Pretoria prospect, amateur Richard Kruger, shot 68 to move to third, while Sunshine Tour winner Merrick Bremner and seasoned campaigner Stefan Engell Anderson from Kenya rounded out the top five on three under.
Having to juggle his desire to graduate to the Sunshine Tour with his burgeoning steel fabrication business comes with a price. Unhappy with his game after a three-week stint on the country’s premier golf development circuit in May, Bright took a month off to work on his game.
“I had a solid top 10 finish at Pecanwood, but I wasn’t happy with my game after Randpark and Waterkloof,” said the self-made owner of SteelStuff, a shop fitting enterprise.
“I live very close to the Elsie de Villiers Sports Grounds and I spent every spare minute at the Tuks Driving Range work on the game and I felt some confidence teeing it up this week.”
The Pretoria native needed only 26 putts in his pacesetting round.
“I had a nice start with a good drive up the right at the first and I hit sand-wedge to 15 feet, but just missed the birdie chance,” he said. “At the second, I hit it close and made the putt to get going.
“I made a great chip-and-putt for birdie at the first par five after clearing the bunkers on the right off the tee and I took advantage of the second par five to get to three under. Just played some solid golf to the turn. I hit a lot of fairways and if I missed, it wasn’t by much.”
And he kept the momentum going around the turn.
“I parred 10 and followed a good drive down 11 with a nine-iron to 12 feet for a two-putt birdie,” Bright said. “At the short hole, I eased off a nine-iron. I felt it was too much club, but I ended up with a semi-plugged lie in the bank that fronts the green, just beyond the water.
“I made great contact with the ball and chipped it in for another birdie. I hit my tee shot up the left at 13 and hit wedge to 15 feet right of the hole and made that birdie putt, as well. At 12, I drove it down the right and I was just off the fairway. I had to get over a tree, but it didn’t really bother me. I had 100 to the flag and I liked the look of the pin on the right. The shot came out perfect, bounced twice on the green and disappeared down the hole.
“You always feel you’ve left something out there if you don’t birdie all the par fives, so I was a little disappointed to make five at 17, especially after I pitched it to five feet, but the putt just lipped the hole. I’m more than pleased with the score, though. I am striking the ball really well again and I got a good feel for the greens. This is a really good start.”
Sunshine Ladies Tour campaigner Nobuhle Dlamini led the ladies field with a four under 76. The big-hitting Swazi golfer is three shots clear of rookie Ivanna Samu and four ahead of Mae Cornforth.