11th August 2014 | IGT Challenge Tour
Ritchie roars into lead at Asian Q-School Race Irene
TSHWANE, 11 August 2014 – JC Ritchie fired a sublime 65 for a two shot lead over Limpopo amateur Hennie du Plessis in the first round of the IGT Tour’s third Race to Asian Q-School at Irene Country Club on Monday.
The Pretoria golfer racked up five birdies and an eagle in a flawless performance at his home course.
Richie recently claimed a top 40 finish at the Vodacom Origins and the Sunshine Tour rookie climbed to 88th on the Order of Merit with earnings of just over R66,000.
Now he is hunting a podium finish at Irene to stake a claim on the R350,000 sponsorship that will enable eight players tee it up at the Asian Tour’s Qualifying School early next year.
“I led during the first round at St Francis Links,” said the Southdowns College Elite Junior Academy graduate. “It was the first time I led in my rookie season and it really fed my confidence.
“I spent the full season on the IGT Tour last year preparing for Q-School and I still come and play on the IGT Tour in the off-weeks. It keeps you competitive and it’s great to come back to the IGT Tour and test the experience you gained on the Sunshine Tour.
“Because the IGT Tour set up is tough, but conducive to scoring, it boosts your confidence when you score well. You kind of take the confidence from the one Tour to the other.”
The GFG Academy golfer believes that if you put yourself in contention regularly, a victory has to follow sooner or later.
“It’s the law of averages,” said Ritchie, who broke through at the 2013 IGT Winter Challenge following two top 10s and two top five finishes.
“I know I will start the second round with a target on my back, because there are a lot of IGT Tour winners and Sunshine Tour players in my rear view mirror. I can only control what I do on the course, though. It’s just a matter of doing what I can over the next two rounds.”
Among his closest challengers are two-time IGT Race to the USA winner Russel Franz at four under, 2013 IGT Race to Q-School winner Brendan de Lange at three under and recent Mahikeng Pro-Am champion Toto Thimba, in pursuit at two under.
Du Plessis is flying happily under the radar, but could be the outsider to spoil the party.
The 17-year-old from Sesambos Golf Club struggled carded rounds of 73 and 75 during his first trip to Irene in June, but on the return visit, he dropped just one shot on his way to five under 67.
“It could have been better,” Du Plessis. “I had no three-putts but I missed the greens at two of the par fives and couldn’t up and down.
“The course is very dry and firm, but the greens are superb. They are slick and run very true. I had a great day with the putter and I’m pleased with my position. I just hope to keep it going, because it would be great to leave for the Southern Cape Open on the back of a solid finish.”
FIRST ROUND SCORES
65 – JC Ritchie
67 – Hennie Du Plessis (AMA)
68 – Russel Franz, NJ Arnoldi (AMA)
69 – Brendan De Lange, Arthur Horne SWZ
70 – Ruan Conradie (AMA), Jacques Kruyswijk, Terence Boardman, Coert Groenewald, Toto Thimba Jnr, Jacques de Villiers
71 – Ryan Gosling, Dayne Moore ZAM, Byron Garvie, Leon Scheepers (AMA), Jason Froneman (AMA), Mike Maile, Pierre Viviers, CJ du Plessis, James Searson, Ted Hendriks
72 – Ruan Huysamen NAM, Rosswell Sinclair (AMA), Arno Pretorius (AMA)
73 – Pieter Kruger, Tertius Van Den Berg, Conway Kunneke, Herman Minnie, Tyrone Ryan, Patrick Thompson, Werner Van Niekerk, JC van Dommelen, Shika Letoaba, Ockert Strydom, Rae Mackie
74 – Rupert Kaminski (AMA), Zabastian De Jager (AMA), DK Kim KOR, Jason Smith (AMA), Desne van den Bergh, Bryce Bibby, Kevin Rundle (AMA), Hilton Hughes (AMA), Roberto Lupini
75 – Phillip Kruse (AMA), Christiaan Pretorius, Gideon Pienaar, Calvin Caldeira (AMA), Martin Rohwer (AMA), Antonio Rosado POR, Derik Ferreira, Dwayne Coetzee, Michael Van Hoeck (AMA)
76 – Daniel Joubert (AMA), Tyron Mc Comb, Bryn Flanagan (AMA), Lean Boezaart, Glen James de Waal NAM, Duane Keun, Divan Van Den Heever, Jaco Prinsloo, JP Schmidt (AMA), Alana van Greuning, Pieter Van der Linde (AMA)
77 – Quintin Crause (AMA), Paul De Beer, Murray Smit, Francois Coetzee, Reghard Neethling (AMA), Juan Langeveld, Cameron Esau, Jacquin Hess, Hano van der Walt, Johan Smit (AMA), Jerry Steyn, Robert Herselman FRA, Otto van Greunen
78 – Stefan Cronje (AMA), Mark Fraser, Wesley Baptiste (AMA), Ryan Clarke
79 – Jaco Mouton, David Lamprecht, Philip Esau (AMA), Bryandrew Roelofsz
80 – Jacques De Villiers (AMA), Niel Meyer (AMA), Christopher McGuire (AMA), Wynand Dingle, Jonathan Raphunga, Werner van der Walt, Kobus Engelbrecht (AMA)
81 – Deon Bredenkamp, Hanbo Lee, Dyllan Lavagna-Slater (AMA)
82 – Wayne Stroebel
83 – Juran Dreyer (AMA)
84 – CJ Levey (AMA)
85 – Shaun van Tonder, Divan Marais (AMA)
86 – Justin Godfrey (AMA)
87 – Rhoan Gardiner, James Garlinge (AMA), Werner Lourens (AMA), Matthew Kiewitz (AMA)
88 – Etzard Grimbeek (AMA), Julian de Wet (AMA)
90 – Reinard Schuhknect (AMA), Marna De Langen, Gerard van Zyl (AMA), Pieter Hoeksma (AMA)
94 – Gustav Erasmus