9th October 2019 | IGT Challenge Tour

O’Kennedy claims maiden Big Easy IGT success at CRM

O’Kennedy claims maiden Big Easy IGT success at CRM

(PHOTO – Hennie O’Kennedy; credit CJ du Plooy)

JOHANNESBURG, 9 October 2019 – Hennie O’Kennedy staved off challenges from Coert Groenewald and Allister de Kock with an impressive back nine performance to land his maiden Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour title on Wednesday.

O’Kennedy picked the perfect event to announce himself as coverage of the final day’s action at CMR Golf Club was streamed live on Facebook for the very first time. The big-hitting Boland rookie stayed cool under pressure and fired a six-under-par 66 in windy conditions to celebrate a three-shot victory on 17-under 194.

“It is pretty special to be the first guy on the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour to have my win broadcast live, but it was crazy,” said the Stellenbosch resident.

“My phone was ringing off the hook and the messages were just flooding in. I am shocked at how many people watched the streaming and called to congratulate me. It’s has definitely been a very special day.”

O’Kennedy and Groenewald began the day three shots back from Quintin Crause, who surged into pole position on 14-under with a second round 63.

After Crause made a bogey start and faltered with a double bogey at the par four seventh, the pair took control with a trio of birdies on the front nine, but Groenewald bogeyed the par four seventh, leaving the door open for the Stellenbosch golfer to pounce.

O’Kennedy let one slip with a three-putt bogey on 11, but rallied with back-to-back birdies on 12 and 13 and he pulled three-shots clear on 15-under when Groenewald bogeyed 12.

“I hit a decent 2-iron on 12, but the tee shot stayed out and finished in the left rough,” he said. “I had a decent lie and I was 145 metres out with the wind from the front with trees in the way. The pin was tucked on the left and I pulled off a magic shot that landed three feet from the flag. That birdie was the kick I needed and I hit a great trap-shot on 13 to keep the momentum going.”

Groenewald got within two shots twice with birdies on 15 and 17, but O’Kennedy kept his cool in the blustery conditions to stave off the challenge.

“The 16th is a driveable par four and I landed my tee shot six feet right of the pin. The eagle putt slipped by, but I tapped in for birdie to three clear again,” O’Kennedy said. “The adrenaline was pumping on the last tee and I hit a huge drive. I had 150 metres flag and I aimed a wedge to the middle of the green. I lagged it close and tapped-in birdie for the win.”

The victory moved O’Kennedy to eighth in the Race to Sunshine Tour standings.

“Cracking the top six to gain my playing privileges for the Sunshine Tour next season has been the main goal this season, and I’m just two spots away,” said the rookie. It’s within my grasp now.”

At 23, O’Kennedy is slighter older than many of the rookies campaigning on the golf development circuit which provides a platform for young professionals to prepare for the big stage. He completed the three-year PGA of SA course at Stellenbosch Golf Club through Swingfit and took an extra year to compete on the GolfRSA national amateur circuit before joining the pro ranks.

“It definitely prepared me better for life in the paid ranks,’ OKennedy said.

“The transition was pretty smooth and my game has been solid all season. The more times you can put yourself into a position to win titles, the more you get used to it, but you need a strong mind-set. That’s what separates the winners from the herd.

“I’ve been working on strengthening my mental game and I talk quite a lot with Johnny Louw, who has taught me a lot about staying in the moment and believing in myself.  He is a former policeman and drug addict who became a Christian motivational speaker. I can honestly say that today was all about my mind-set and my self-believe that I can win.”

Allister de Kock (68) tied for second with Groenewald (69) and his R7 230 pay-day shot the Gary Player School of 2019 member to the number one spot in the Transformation Order of Merit. The top three ranked golfers on this money list at the end of the season will also gain playing privileges for the Sunshine Tour next season.

The Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour events are managed by IGT Challenge Tour commissioner Cois du Plooy and his staff. Du Plooy said the final round at CMR will definitely go down as one of the most exciting days in Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour history.

“The Sunshine Tour chose the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour to test this now initiative and the live streaming went off like a dream,” he said.

“Congratulations to the Sunshine Tour, EFX Productions and our commentators Alan Michelle and Matthew Carvell on successful launching this ground-breaking technology. It was fantastic to see viewers from all over South Africa and abroad tune in to follow the action. Live streaming will allow us build a much bigger audience for golf in South Africa and to draw international golfers to our shores.”

Final Result

All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified and amateurs indicated at AMA

199 – Hennie O’Kennedy 65 68 66

202 – Allister de Kock 67 67 68, Coert Groenewald 70 63 69

203 – Richard Joubert 68 67 68, Michael-James Steyn 68 66 69

204 – Jeff Inglis (ENG) 67 68 69

205 – Byron Coetzee 70 68 67, Gideon van der Vyver 69 68 68, Quintin Crause 66 64 75

206 – Quintin Wilsnach 69 68 69, Jason Roets 68 67 71

207 – Matthew Spacey 67 71 69, Clayton Mansfield 67 67 73

208 – Jason Smith 71 68 69, Leon Vorster 68 69 71, Gary Daoust (BEL) 67 69 72, Michael Pfeifer 63 73 72, Gerard du Plooy 67 68 73

209 – Dwayne Basson 70 69 70, John McClean (NIR) 71 68 70, Gerhard Pepler 69 69 71, Keanu Pestana 69 69 71, Christian Basson 67 71 71, Thabiso Ngcobo 68 69 72, Stephan Erasmus 72 65 72, Albert Venter 71 66 72, Carlo Heunis 68 67 74

210 – James Pennington (SWZ) 70 69 71, Jeremy Sharpe 65 72 73, Dylan Kok 67 69 74

211 – Xander Basson AMA 69 65 77

212 – Reinhardt Blaauw 70 66 76

215 – Henning du Plooy 70 69 76

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour.

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