18th March 2016 | IGT Challenge Tour
Weather decides at Irene Championship
TSHWANE, 17 March 2016 – A heavy downpour at Irene Country Club washed away any chance for joint overnight leaders Russel Franz and CJ du Plessis to have a rematch for the 72-hole Irene Championship title on Thursday.
The GFG Academy duo shared pole position at 12 under after round two and were still tied at the top at 15-under-par 201 after posting a pair of 69s in the third round.
Both players were eager to go head-to-head in the final round and attack the pins, but the organisers were forced to call it a day after a heavy deluge left the course too waterlogged to continue play.
“It was already raining quite heavily when we arrived at the course around 7 am,” said Du Plessis from Limpopo. “The first couple of groups teed off, but the rain intensified and they made the call before Russel and I could even hit our opening tee shots.
“We were disappointed, because we don’t often get to play a 72-hole event on the IGT Tour, but we are happy with the decision that we share the title. Call it hard luck or fate, but no-one likes to lose to something that is beyond your control after putting in the hard yards.”
The Irene Championship was the last opportunity for the Sunshine Tour campaigners to prepare for the Golden Pilsener Zimbabwe Open from 14-17 April and Zambia Sugar Open a week later.
Franz was especially pleased to be rewarded for excellent shot-making, but said he would be spending quality time with his putter over the next two weeks.
“I struck the ball beautifully and my iron-play and wedges were on song, but I struggled with the putter in the third round,” said the Tshwane professional.
“I had good pace and the stroke was fine, but I just couldn’t read a line. I missed a bunch of putts just high or low and left some in the throat.
“I’ve had some good results in the last three events and I feel confident to start up on the Sunshine Tour again. CJ and I both cut our teeth on the IGT Tour before we graduated to the Sunshine Tour and it’s always great to return to our ‘roots’. You always leave with a measure of confidence.”
Zimbabwe-born Marc Cayeux continued his comeback on the IGT Tour and the nine-time Sunshine Tour winner was both relieved and frustrated to be sent home early.
“I made it through three rounds with blisters and my legs were really sore, so I won’t lie; I was thankful when I heard the hooter, because the wet weather was tough,” said Cayeux.
“At the same time, I really would have liked to see if I could cross the finish line. I played this week to test my progress and to see if I could walk 72 holes, because I’m hoping for a sponsor’s invitation to play the Zimbabwe Open.
“I’m quite proud that I shot under par in the first two rounds and I finsied in the top 25 on Wednesday. It’s unbelievably great just to be playing again and to feel that old competitive spirit come alive.”