27th June 2018 | Big Easy Tour
Simon blasts to the front at Killarney
Thabang Simon will take a two-shot lead into the last lap at Killarney Country Club after he shot to the top of the pile in the in the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour #5 late on Tuesday.
Sunshine Tour campaigner DK Kim had a brace of birdies at four and five to take the early lead, but bogeys at nine and 10 set him back. Simon cancelled a pair of bogeys with four birdies for a two under 68 and the Soweto golfer will head into the final round on five-under-par 135.
Kim from Korea dropped another shot at 12, but got back to where he began the day at three under with a second round 70, courtesy of a birdie at 15.
Marthin Scheepers dropped four shots, but a pair of birdies on his back nine kept the overnight leader in the mix. The Akasia golfer signed for a 72 to finish within three shots of the lead.
In early May, Simon opened with a four-under 69 to lead the field in the second Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour event at Modderfontein Golf Club, but the 42-year-old Kliprivier resident fizzled out of contention with further rounds of 75 and 73.
He was back in contention a week later at the third Big Easy IGT, where he fired a final round 68 at State Mines to claim a share of third.
“I got ahead of myself at Modderfontein, but that’s something I avoided well today,” said the Gary Player School of 2018 member.
“I concentrated very hard on just playing one shot at a time and staying in the present. It worked out well for me. I didn’t get ahead of myself at all, and it just goes to show what you can do with the right mind-set. The greens are really fast and firm, but when I got onto the greens, I converted almost all of my chances. I had a couple of bogeys and I missed a few putts, but we’re only human. You’re always going to leave one or two out there.
“I’m pleased with how I’m playing and where I am on the leaderboard. It could have been better, but I’m in contention with one round to go and that’s what I wanted. The greens are going to be even quicker. Depending on where they stick the pins, the strategy will be the same. Fairways, greens and hole putts.”
The seasoned professional said he has been enjoying keeping company with the amateurs and the young pros on the joint golf development venture between the Sunshine Tour and the IGT Challenge Tour.
“I think it’s really good for them to be around us and for us to spend a little time with them,” said Simon. “I played the last two rounds with little Franklin Manchest from George. He came through the SA Development Board and then went into the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation.
“Now Franklin is on the Gary Player School of 2018 squad. He is a very talented golfer. He missed the cut but he improved four shots today. The Big Easy and the IGT Challenge Tours is the best place for him to cut his teeth. I really enjoyed the time out there with him and Matt (Bright). Those kids kept me on my toes.”
Meanwhile last week’s IGT Challenge Tour champion Slade Pickering reeled off four birdies from the third. Two further gains at 14 and 15 for a five-under-par 65 earned Virginia Tech University student the low round of the day.
The Pecanwood amateur shares seventh with on one-under with Matt Bright and David McIntyre. Bright carded 71 and McIntyre posted 69.
Estiaan Conradie, the IGT Challenge Tour Race to Q-School winner last year, returned a 73 to tie for seventh with Anton Haig and Ruan Korb, who registered respective rounds of 69 and 67.