4th October 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour
Pieters pulls off Zwartkop magic for the kids
(PHOTO – Brandon Pieters and his daughter Taylor; credit CJ du Plooy)
TSHWANE, 3 October 2017 – Over the first four rounds, Thriston Lawrence was invincible, but in the final match, the two-time Sanlam SA Amateur champion was bested a man who had much more motivation to win the IGT Zwartkop Match Play.
“It’s all for the kids, man,” exclaimed a smiling Brandon Pieters after he closed out a 1-up victory at Zwartkop Country Club on Wednesday.
“Do you know what happens in the school holidays? It’s mayhem! That last putt just earned me R20 000 with my first IGT win. That’s going to buy a whole lot of movie tickets. Now I can entertain the kids proper and I might even spring for a nice romantic meal with my old lady.
“I’m telling you, the IGT Challenge Tour is a proper mulligan for me. We never had a circuit like this to prepare for the pro ranks when I turned pro back in 1994. It’s not just the place to play for the youngsters looking at turning pro, but it’s a great circuit for guys like me who need to change some things to stay competitive.”
The big-hitting Benoni Lake pro had a few tight matches, while Lawrence scored some huge wins, but it was Pieters who went 3-up through the first three holes.
Lawrence reeled him back with victories at four and six and the pair turned with the former Sunshine Tour winner leading 1-up. He nearly holed out at 11 to go 2-up and kept control until the pair reached 15.
“Thriston made a great birdie to square the match and we halved the next two holes in pars,” said Pieters. “I hit a great tee shot down the middle at 18 and left my second just left of the green, but a great chip to three feet and a solid putt sealed the deal.
“I won’t say it was the best golf either of us had played, but it was a great contest. It was tight all the way to the finish line.”
Pieters has played a couple of events on the country’s premier development circuit over the last five months to test out swing changes, but the consistency that netted him three Vodacom Business Origins of Golf titles in 2009 and the 2010 BMG Classic has eluded him.
“I started working with Grant Veenstra on swing changes to get me competitive and back on the Sunshine Tour,” he said.
“I know there is still a few good years left in this carcass, so it’s great to have a seriously competitive circuit where I can test myself and the stuff Grant and I are working on. To be honest, I limped like a wounded gazelle in the first couple of tournaments, so to pull one out of the bag feels pretty damn good. There is some incredible talent out there and they just get better every week.”
Pieters said switching up the format before the start of the Race to Q-School Series was a great way for the players to just let loose.
“It was a whole lot of fun to play match play,” he said. “You can attack, strategize and play with a lot more freedom, but these guys really made me work for it. There was no gimmies this week.
“I’ve made some good strides but there is still a long road ahead. The Race to Q-School starts soon and that will up the ante even more. I’ll definitely feel like I’ve reached a milestone if I can bag another trophy in the next few months.”