1st September 2014 | IGT Challenge Tour
Van Niekerk gets quick start at Modderfontein
JOHANNESBURG, 1 September 2014 – Pretoria pro Werner van Niekerk shot a six-under-par 66 to grab the first round lead as par took a beating in the IGT Tour’s Race to Asian Q-School at Modderfontein Golf Club on Monday.
With the greens rock hard after a week-long battering from the wind, the scores were high and only seven players able to shoot below par.
Van Niekerk racked up six birdies and an eagle-three to offset two early bogeys for a one stroke lead over Limpopo amateur Hennie du Plessis and multiple IGT Tour winner, Antonio Rosado from Portugal.
The 23-year-old TuksSport Golf Academy member got going with back-to-back birdies and erased a bogey at the par-three third with another pair of birdies at the fifth and seventh holes.
He tapped in for three at the par-five eighth after smashing a wedge from 150 meters to give and hit a solid eight-iron into the par-three ninth, but his shot carried over the green.
“On both par-threes, I had the wind in my back,” Van Niekerk said. “I overshot the green both times and couldn’t get up-and-down in par. It was really frustrating to waste two such great shots, but you just have to get on with it.”
The former University of Pretoria student parred the next six holes before he tapped in for his fifth birdie at the 16th.
“I almost had another eagle, but the ball stopped just of the hole,” Van Niekerk said. “But a birdie is always better par and I was really happy to finish with another birdie at the 18th to shoot my favourite number.”
Having been the bridesmaid on three occasions this season, Van Niekerk is anxious to knock out a maiden win.
“With a spot to the Asian Tour’s Qualifying School on offer in the IGT Tour’s Race to Asian Q-School series and the Big Easy Championship coming up, I just hope I can take it all the way to the finish line in the next couple of weeks,” said the BSc Construction Management graduate.
“Every time I’ve been close, I’ve let myself down in the final round. It’s tough not to get impatient, though, and sometimes you force things too much and you don’t achieve a thing. I know I need to keep grinding, learn from my mistakes and the pay-off will come.”
Rosado has battled to find the form that won him three titles in April, but Du Plessis comes into the event on the back of a tie for sixth and third in the Race to Asian Q-School series and could pose a serious threat.
The 17-year-old hit six under with eagles at the par-five first and eighth and birdies at the third and 13th, but a double bogey at the par-four 15th derailed his charge.
The amateur bounced back with a birdie at the 17th and parred the 18th to close with a five under 65.
Meanwhile Namibia’s Ruan Huysamen shares fourth on two under with Bryandrew Roelofsz and amateur Louwtjie van Vuuren, while fellow amateur Jandre Fullard registered a 71.
FIRST ROUND SCORES
66 – Werner Van Niekerk
67 – Hennie Du Plessis (AMA), Antonio Rosado POR
70 – Ruan Huysamen NAM, Bryandrew Roelofsz, Louwtjie J van Vuuren (AMA)
71 – Jandre Fullard (AMA)
72 – Conway Kunneke, Russel Franz, DK Kim KOR
73 – John McClean NIR, Jaco Mouton, Tyron McComb, Lean Boezaart, Bryn Flanagan (AMA), Leon Scheepers (AMA)
74 – David Meyers (AMA), Hano van der Walt, Nico Du Buisson (AMA), Ted Hendriks, Byron Garvie, Coert Groenewald
75 – Calvin Caldeira (AMA), Herman Minnie, Niel Meyer (AMA), Wayne du Toit, Hilton Hughes (AMA), James Garlinge (AMA), Stephan De Beer (AMA), Michael Van Hoeck (AMA), Murray Smit
76 – TJ Bekker, Rhoan Gardiner, Rosswell Sinclair (AMA), Jacquin Hess, Matthew Kiewitz (AMA), Johann Dannhauser
77 – Keegan Steyn (AMA)
78 – Alwyn Vorster, Gareth Akers (AMA), Glen de Waal NAM, Michael Dreyer, Ryan Gosling, Clinton Cheia (AMA), Werner van der Walt, Ryan Wingrove (AMA)
79 – Gustav Gouws (AMA)
80 – Christiaan Pretorius, Michael Petersen (AMA)
81 – JP Schmidt (AMA)
82 – Michael Schutz (AMA), Simon Kruger (AMA)
83 – David Lamprecht, Pieter Van der Linde (AMA)
84 – Stephan Erasmus (AMA), Jerry Steyn, Jeremy D’Argent MUS (AMA), Craig Dreyer, Mark Fraser, Shaun van Tonder
85 – Jadrick Fourie (AMA), Christopher Hardy MUS (AMA), David Marks (AMA)
86 – Dwayne Coetzee
88 – Brendan Britten NAM (AMA), Phillip Calitz (AMA)
89 – Daniel Joubert (AMA)
90 – Benjamin Cobbett (AMA)
92 – Christiaan Greyling (AMA)
96 – Gustav Erasmus