17th January 2018 | IGT Challenge Tour
Third time’s the charm for Moolman
(PHOTO – Pieter Moolman and Centurion Country Club representative Jannus Sik; credit CJ du Plooy)
TSHWANE, 17 January 2018 – Ekurhuleni golfer Pieter Moolman won the 12th event in the IGT Challenge Tour’s Race to Q-School despite a topsy-turvy start to his day.
Moolman and girlfriend Jeanine Wolvaardt stopped to help a disorientated victim in a car accident to safety near her home in Kempton Park.
The pair had barely driven a kilometre before they ran into an unexpected road closure and had to double back to find an alternative route to Centurion. But the Good Samaritan made it to his 08h30 tee time with 10 minutes to spare and sounded a loud warning when he parked a 5-iron approach three feet from the hole at the first and boxed the putt for an eagle start.
Moolman finished just as strongly with four birdies on the trot from the par five 15th to close out a three-stroke victory on 17-under 199 with a final round 65.
“After the start to the day, I didn’t expect to be holding the trophy,” said the 26-year-old Lake Club Benoni golfer. “I am over the moon.
“Last year I came close twice but lost out over the closing holes. After I slipped back in the middle of the round, I just told myself it’s not happening again and I put my head down and got it done.
“Jeanine and I were just three kilometres from her house when we watched an oncoming car hit the car in front of us. We helped the driver out of the car, but we only got about a kilometre when we ran into a road block for a crime scene.
“I had about 10 left to get my shoes on and I managed five putts to warm up before I had to be on the tee. I think the adrenaline was still pumping when I hit that first tee shot. To be honest, the eagle didn’t do much to calm me down, but it definitely set me up for the win.”
Moolman carried a two-shot lead into the final round over Pretoria rookie Albert Venter and Sean Bradley from the Western Province.
He made six straight before a bogey at eight, but he birdied nine to turn one-under. However, Venter racked up six birdies to pull two shots clear and he was one shot behind Bradley, who fired a trio of birdies and eagled the par-four ninth.
Moolman pounced when Venter dropped three successive shots from 10 and Bradley failed to take advantage of his birdie chances at 12 and 13.
“I bogeyed at 11, but I regained the momentum with birdies at 12 and 13,” said Moolman. I hit a good tee shot at 12, and chipped it to a few feet, but I missed the eagle chance. At 13, I hit my second to about 12 feet and holed the putt for birdie.
“Once I got the lead, I knew this was my chance. I thought about the close calls at The Els Club Copperleaf and Pecanwood. I knew I had to make some birdies to win.”
Moolman made a great up-and-down for birdie from just left of the green at 15 and knocked in a 10-footer for birdie at 16. His tee shot at the 17th went long, but he drained the 25 foot putt for birdie.
“I left myself a 10-footer for birdie at 18 and it was the best feeling in the world when the ball disappeared down the hole,” said the HPC Tuks Golf Academies player.
“I’ve felt for a while that my game is at the best level it’s ever been and it’s such a gratifying thing to see all the hard work over the last year finally pay off. It’s great to be able to pay back everyone who has supported me with this victory. Jeanine is definitely due a candlelight dinner, so we’ll see where the car takes us tonight.”
Bradley returned a flawless 66 to take second on 14-under and Venter birdied 14 and 18 to finish a shot back in third.
IGT Challenge Tour winner Louis Albertse catapulted to fourth on 11-under 205 and collected the R500 low round of the day prize. The reigning Mpumalanga Open champion fired 12 birdies and needed just 23 putts for his 10-under-par 62.