9th April 2018 | IGT Challenge Tour
Pennington pulls clear at IGT Germiston
Pennington pulls clear at IGT Germiston
(Photo – James Pennington; credit CJ du Plooy)
JOHANNESBURG, 9 April 2018 – Swaziland rookie James Pennington opened up a one shot lead in the first round of the IGT Challenge Germiston on Monday.
The 21-year-old Mbabane golfer rallied after a set-back on the back nine at Germiston Golf Club to post a five-under-par par 67, edging clear of South African pursuers Dylan Mostert and Michiel Bothma.
Pennington made a fast start with four birdies in the first five holes, but his flawless run ended abruptly with three bogeys on the bounce after the turn.
“It was so silly,” he said. “I hit my drive into the trees at 10 and had to punch out. I got it on the green, but my par putt lipped out. At 11, I hit a good second shot out of the rough, but the ball carried through the green. It rolled into the bunker at the back and I couldn’t up and down to save par.
“I hit good tee shot at 12 and I thought I hit the perfect second, but it came up short in the bunker and I couldn’t up and down again.”
He stemmed the bleeding with a par at 13 and got a shot back at 14 after his tee shot veered slightly right into the trees.
“I hit a low cut 8-iron under the trees and holed a 35-footer for birdie,” said Pennington, who birdied the par three 15th and holed a 10-foot birdie putt at the par five 16th to get back to four under.
“Unfortunately I missed a short one at 17 for birdie, but I was happy to finish with a birdie. I aimed an 8-iron at the flag, but the ball caught a bit of wind and floated a good 20 foot past the hole. It was a dead straight downhill putt, though, so all I had to do was guide it to the hole.”
Pennington spent three years at the KeNako Academy in George and relocated to Johannesburg after he matriculated at the end of 2014, where he joined The Golf School of Excellence at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington.
While he completed his three-year PGA Teaching Diploma, represented Central Gauteng and built experience on the national amateur circuit, all the while maintaining his number one ranking in Swaziland.
In October, he outpaced an international field of professionals to clinch joint second for a second consecutive year in the King’s Cup Big Easy in his native Swaziland – a performance that prompted his decision to join the pro ranks in 2018.
“I have affiliated membership on the Sunshine Tour, so the plan this year is to build experience in the pro ranks,” said Pennington. “I’ll play a limited schedule on the Sunshine Tour and compete on the IGT Challenge Tour and the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour.
“It’s absolutely fantastic for players like me from African countries that we can come out to South Africa and play a year-long circuit to gain experience, especially as rookies.”
Mostert, who won the Wanderers Better Ball Challenge with last week’s champion Kyle Barker in 2017, offset a bogey on each nine with six birdies, while former PGA Championship winner Bothma mixed five bogeys with an eagle and seven birdies, including four on the trot from the 10th.
First Round Scores
All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified; amateurs indicated as AMA.
67 – James Pennington (SWA)
68 – Dylan Mostert, Michiel Bothma
69 – Ruhan van Dijk
70 – Ruan Groenewald
71 – Keaton Slatter AMA, Romano Saincic, Hendrikus Stoop, Divan Marais, Nico du Buisson, Bradley Diggeden AMA, Keanu Pestana AMA, Maverick Faber AMA (FRA), Stephan du Toit AMA
72 – Fritz Orren AMA, Chase Paton AMA
73 – Gary Daoust (BEL), Leon Vorster, Michael Kok
74 – Jonathan George AMA, Mpho Mafishe, Bryce Myburgh, Shaun van Tonder
75 – Quintin Crause, Neville Mitchell AMA, Kyle Barker, Leon Visser, Jason Roets, Andy Haasbroek AMA
76 – CJ Levey, Robert Tilbury, Divan de Villiers AMA, Massimo Roch AMA (CAN), John McClean (NIR)
77 – Duan Nagel AMA, Dylan Morton AMA, Stephan Erasmus
78 – Liam Clinton AMA, Landon Ferguson AMA, Luke Kelly, Neo Mokgatle AMA
79 – Shalan Govender, Kelsey Nicholas, Leslie Grandet (MDG)
80 – Tyron Taylor AMA, Chiara Contomathios
81 – Dean du Plessis AMA, Trevor Taylor AMA
83 – Henning du Plooy AMA
85 – Jabu Radebe
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the IGT Challenge Tour.