7th June 2016 | IGT Challenge Tour

Van Wyk edges ahead at Killarney Challenge

Werner van Wyk _papers(PHOTO – Werner van Wyk; credit CJ du Plooy)

JOHANNESBURG, 7 June 2016 – Werner van Wyk holds a slim advantage over Andrew Carlsson and Nicole Garcia after snatching the first round lead in the IGT Tour’s Killarney Challenge on Tuesday.

Van Wyk was caught in the leaderboard logjam at the start of the round, but broke free from the chasing pack at Killarney Country Club to take the lead with a three-under-par 67. The Modderfontein golfer leads by one from Carlsson and Garcia and has a two shot lead over former IGT Tour winners Coert Groenewald and amateur David McIntyre.

The 23-year-old from the Gary Player School for Champions was highly motivated by the sub-par round and is determined to maintain his good form this week.

“In my last two IGT Tour starts in May, I posted a sub-par round in each tournament, so you can believe I’m thrilled with this start,” he said. “Of course it would have been better without the bogeys on my card, but I’m really happy with the way I managed to rally to come back. If you had given me a 67 at the start of the day, I would have taken it and run.”

The rookie made a fast start with a trio of birdies from the third hole, but faltered just before the turn.

“It was such a rush to make three birdies in a row that I just lost focus over the birdie putt at seven,” he said. “I rushed it past the hole and left the return on the lip. At the next hole, I leaked my tee shot right and I couldn’t get on the green for two. After back-to-back bogeys, I just told myself to take a breath, calm down and focus on the next tee shot.”

Van Wyk settled with solid pars around the turn, and cancelled one bogey with a birdie at 11.

“I had 119 metres to the pin, but I had a big tree right in front of me,” he said, “so I used the tree as the target and hit a gap-wedge to six meters. I had a nice uphill birdie putt left and I hit it straight in the middle of the cup.

“At 15, I was on the green in two and had an eagle chance, but the putt died on the lip of the cup. It was good enough for the lead, though, and I mean to start the second round as I finished the first”

Van Wyk enjoyed two solid top 26 finishes in the Houghton and Ruimsig Challenges in May and rode that form to a tie for 29th in his Big Easy Tour debut at Observatory two weeks ago.

“I had a bit of confidence after Ruimsig and I shot two under in my first Big Easy,” he said. “You definitely gain confidence when you start performing on the IGT Tour. I have to pre-qualify for next Big Easy at Glendower next week, so I’m chasing a good result at Killarney.”

Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Nicole Garcia birdied the fifth, had a double at seven, but got back to level par with a second birdie at 12 and boxed an eagle putt at the par five 15th to tie for second with Carlsson, who lost his share of the lead with a bogey finish.

Groenewald and McIntyre both had a pair of birdies and a lone bogey on their respective cards.

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