16th November 2022 | Big Easy Tour
Pepler, Mclachlan share slim lead ahead of final round at CCJ
Gerard Pepler fired in a second-round six-under-par 66 to play himself into a share of the lead in the final event of the Altron Big Easy Tour at Country Club Johannesburg on Wednesday.
“Today’s round was a big motivational step from yesterday, mentally,” said Pepler who plays out of Serengeti nowadays. “The mental side of my game wasn’t at the level I liked in round one but today was an ideal round to come back from that.”
The mental strength he alludes to came to the fore on Wednesday as the 22-year-old showed maturity beyond his age under stressful moments. He made four birdies on the front nine to turn in 32 and bogey-free. Then, he dropped on 10 before making a hat-trick of birdies from 11 through to 13, with four straight pars coming through to consolidate a good round of golf.
“The chipping and scrambling saved me today,” admitted Pepler after his round. “I just couldn’t get off the tee and I was scrambling the whole day. So, to make only one bogey given the way I hit the ball today is very nice.”
Pepler has already won this season and knows that a win this week could be a life-changer. He refuses to put too much pressure on himself, however.
“Of course, a win here would mean everything for any player who is here,” he said, “but I am not going to chase it. I will stick to what I have been doing; how I have been playing because if you start to chase a lot, things can turn around very fast, so I won’t chase.”
He ties the lead with Keegan Mclachlan going into the final round and both players are aware that a one-shot lead can be easily overturned. Mclachlan signed for a 68 which was characterised by four birdies, an eagle and two bogeys. He, too, felt that his second round was rather a scrappy affair but is delighted to be at the summit of the leaderboard with 18 holes to play.
“Today was scrappy,” said Mclachlan. “I hit the ball terribly. But, I got off to a good start; birdie, par, eagle, and that helped. I just tried to manage from there but the ball striking wasn’t great. The course was really good and the greens quickened up a lot, so if you missed it on the wrong spot, you would struggle to make par.
“But I won’t change my game and I’ll stay aggressive because I’m driving it well. It’s all about playing positive golf tomorrow; this whole week, really. So, tomorrow, I’ll keep to my game; hit driver on most holes, probably. But nothing changes.”
Just a shot adrift lies Ricky Hendler who shares the third spot with DK Kim, overnight leader and member of the Papwa Sewgolum Class, Keelan Van Wyk and local man, Adam Breen. Leon Visser and Sentanio Minnie share seventh on six-under for the tournament while LB Boshoff is the only player on five-under this week.
Only the top 30 players on the Order of Merit are eligible for this event. The top 12 players at the end of this tournament will earn their Sunshine Tour cards for next season.
The Big Easy Tour was founded in 2011 with support from Ernie Els and counts current international star Christiaan Bezuidenhout among its former Order of Merit winners.