28th February 2017 | IGT Challenge Tour

Waschefort under pressure as Q-School Race wraps up

CenturionDay1 (101)(PHOTO – Tristen Strydom; credit CJ du Plooy)

TSHWANE, 28 February 2017 – Jonathan Waschefort held on to pole position on day two of the final Race to Q-School event, but he will have to keep his head in the game as the jostling for position in the final Order of Merit goes down to the wire on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old Tshwane golfer protected his overnight lead at Centurion Country Club with a flawless four-under-par 68 and he will start the final round at 12 under with a two shot advantage over seasoned professional Coert Groenewald and rookie Tristen Strydom.

However, that’s precisely where Waschefort’s trouble could start.

Groenewald has been one of the most consistent campaigners over the 18 events in the Race to Q-School Series, and he is a serious contender for the top prize in the Race to Sunshine Tour Q-School Order of Merit.

The Roodepoort golfer banked his seventh IGT Challenge Tour title in the Race to Q-School #16 at State Mines Golf Club a fortnight ago and the victory vaulted the 28-year-old to fourth in the rankings.

With 54,443.25 points in hand, a win or even a runner-up finish at Centurion Country Club would move Groenewald into the top spot.

For that to happen, though, Groenewald would need second-placed Matthew Spacey or Dean O’Riley, ranked third, to both finish outside the top three.

Spacey produced rounds of 68 and 67 to tie for fourth alongside Thriston Lawrence, Juan Swart and amateur Ruan Korb and the Dainfern pro will start the last 18 holes just three off the pace

O’Riley, who won the first event in the Race to Q-School series, has a bit more work to do if he hopes to lift Damian Naicker out of the number one spot. The Benoni player carded rounds of 72 and 68 and he is currently in the bus at four under.

The top five players in the final Order of Merit after Wednesday’s final round will receive free passage to the Final Stage of the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School.

That raises the stakes significantly, especially for Waschefort, who is eighth in the rankings with 45,328.02 points. The 15,000 points for a win would certainly push him into the top five, but Strydom is less than 1,500 points behind Waschefort and an ominous presence in his rear-view mirror.

“I definitely don’t want to be thinking about the rankings, but it is in the back of my mind,” said the tournament leader. “Coert and Tristen are both extremely gritty competitors and they don’t back off from the fight, so I expect to have a battle on my hands.

“My focus in the first two rounds has been to keep my head down and to hit every shot as good as possible. I haven’t gotten ahead of myself and I believe that has kept me going. If I can continue to do that tomorrow, I have every chance of making it.”

Another dark horse to watch is rookie Estiaan Conradie.

A three-time winner in his first season on the IGT Challenge Tour last year, the Wingate Park teenager sits at 10th in the Order of Merit with 43,963.56 points. He fired seven birdies and an eagle on day two to record the low round of the day – a seven-under-par 65 – that moved him to four under.

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