26th February 2018 | IGT Challenge Tour
Strydom and Bright co-lead Randpark Race to Q-School
(PHOTO – Pretoria Tristen Strydom, credit CJ du Plooy)
RANDPARK, 26 February 2018 – Former IGT Challenge Tour winners Tristen Strydom and Matt Bright share a one-shot lead in the final event of the 2018 Race to Q-School Series after Monday’s first round.
The Pretoria duo toured the Firethorn Course at Randpark Golf Club in flawless fashion, carding rounds of seven-under-par 65 hit the front.
It’s all to play for in the finale of the 18-event series geared at preparing young professionals and amateur hopefuls for the two stages of the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School in March. The top 10 ranked players in the Race to Q-School Order of Merit at the conclusion of the final event will punch their tickets for Final Stage, skipping the arduous First Stage and reducing golf’s most gruelling test to just 90 holes.
It is last chance saloon for the players in the bubble and the two joint leaders are in the thick of it.
Strydom, currently sitting in 12th spot, carded three birdies on the front nine and followed an eagle at the par five 12th with birdies on the bounce at 14 and 15.
“I wanted a solid start and I got it,” Strydom said. “I played well tee to green and the putter worked very well; probably the best it has so far this year. It was nice to get off to a good start, particularly this week and I’m just keen to keep the momentum going.”
Bright made consecutive gains on three, four and five and notched another gain at nine to make the turn in four-under. He birdied 10 and eagled the par five 14th to join Strydom in pole position.
“I have been playing well the last couple of months, but the scores didn’t reflect it,” said the 23-year-old Bright, who is 14th in the current rankings. “Today I was really solid, the putts dropped and I was able to put a low score on the board.
“I made good up-and-downs and pars saves to keep the round going. It’s a great start to the final event, but there are still two rounds left. A lot can still happen. I’m just really happy that I’ve put myself in a strong position early on. That’s a good place to go from.”
Strydom and Bright are not alone in search of a victory.
The leaderboard after the opening day was as tight as the famously unforgiving fairways of the Firethorn Course as 23 players broke par in the first round and although not everyone in the chasing pack is within reach of the magic number, a win this week will deliver a huge punch of confidence ahead of Q-School.
Sweden’s Fredrik Form carded his best round of the country’s premier development circuit and sits in third place after his six under par round of 66.
Another former winner David McIntyre racked up four birdies in his last seven holes for a five-under 67 to tie for fourth place with Bryanston amateur Andrew Carlsson.
Englishman Mark James made a quartet of birdies and an eagle on the back nine to grab a share of sixth at four under with Jacques de Villiers, Duane Keun and Pieter Moolman, while Albert Venter finished with back-to-back birdies to share 10th on three under with Pretoria amateur Philip Kruse and Juan Langeveld.
Another five golfers are a shot further back on two under par, including Race to Q-School Order of Merit leader Estiaan Conradie.