30th April 2019 | Big Easy Tour
Duo share lead on low-scoring day at Observatory
Strand golfer Gideon van der Vyfer and seasoned campaigner Coert Groenewald will go into the final round of the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour #2 neck in neck on nine under par.
On a day when 40 players shot level par or less at Observatory Golf Club, Groenewald held on to a share of the lead with a five under 67 that featured five birdies on the bounce while Van der Vyfer fired a flawless 66 to surge to the top of the leaderboard.
Former SA Stroke Play champion Jason Smith carded 68 to finish two shots off the pace.
A second round 67 moved 15-year-old GolfRSA National Squad player Yurav Premlall within three shots of the leading duo. The Glendower amateur shares fourth with Gareth Sargent, who also returned a 68.
Sipho Bujela, who opened with a 68 to share the first round lead with Groenewald and Swiss golfer Neal Woernhard, slipped to a tie for sixth after returning a 71. The Soweto golfer sits on five-under with Jason Roets, who posted 69.
Fellow Gary Player School member Thabang Simon finished at four-under with a 69 and shares the eighth spot with KwaZulu-Natal rookie Malcolm Mitchell and Free State amateur Christiaan Burke, who both carded rounds of 68.
Woernhard blew out with a 75 and slipped to joint 16th on one-under.
Groenewald hit a hot run of form early on and fired five birdies on the trot from the second hole. He gave two shots back at the par four 10th, but rallied with birdies at 14 and 16 for his 67.
“I hit the green in two on the second and two-putted for birdie and hit an 8-iron to tap-in at the third,” said the Houghton professional. “I hit 8-iron again at the fourth to eight feet and boxed the putt.
“I finished just short of the green at the fifth and had a tough chip, but I made a good up-and-down for birdie. At the sixth, “At the fifth, I hit 2-iron past the flag and faced a seriously fast downhill putt, but I putt the perfect pace on the putt.
“I hit it out of bounds right at 10 and ended up making a double, but I got it back to five-under with birdies at 14 and 16. I’ve been working on swing changes with my coach, Costanza Trussoni, and all I did today was to trust the changes and commit to the shots.
“This is a very tight course, so you have to be pretty accurate off the tee. The greens took a bit of a beating with all the rain and they are inconsistent, but I’ve always loved this layout and I would really like to take it to the finish line on Wednesday.”
The top 10 players on the final Road to Sunshine Tour at the end of the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour will earn playing privileges on the Sunshine Tour.
Like Groenewald, Van der Vyfer also lost his card at the end of last season and he is equally hungry to bag a win early in the season.
“The Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour is the only way to avoid going back to Q-School,” said 25-year-old Van der Vyfer. “All the guys competing here have the same goal in mind, so the level of competition is really high. An early win in the season gives you a foot-up in the rankings, so when you’ve got yourself in contention, you have to go all-out to win.”