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Birdie charge sees Strydom to Tour Championship titleA 40-foot birdie putt on the ninth ignited a charge from Jean-Paul Strydom on Sunday as he pulled off his maiden Sunshine Tour victory in the season-ending Tour Championship at Serengeti Estates. He had just bogeyed the eighth for his second dropped shot of the day and was falling off the pace, but three consecutive birdies around the two and another two on his way home saw him finish the round six-under and the tournament at 14-under for a one-stroke edge over the quartet of Jean Hugo, Jake Roos, Ockie Strydom and Thriston Lawrence. “My putt on nine was about a 40-footer from across the green and that kind of got me going,” he said. “Then I hit a horrible tee-shot on 10, and had probably one of the best shots of the tournament to about five feet and made the birdie putt. I missed a five-footer for eagle on 11, but made birdie there.” That brought the lead back within his grasp, and birdies on 13 and 17 helped him seal the deal. “It was such an easy chip. I was a bit nervous – shaking a bit – so I didn’t hit it hard enough and left myself an uphill six-footer. I just closed my eyes and it went in,” he laughed. It looked for a long while as if the tournament might go to a play-off, but Hugo bogeyed the 18th when he putted a 45-footer from the back fringe about eight feet past the hole and missed the return putt to slip to 13-under. Roos narrowly missed a 40-footer for birdie on 18, while Ockie Strydom and Lawrence each missed slippery downhill putts on the final hole and they all finished just off the pace. For Strydom, having to make the pace during the final round was useful. “Chasing helped,” he said. “I was leading at Cape Town Open and I didn’t feel myself – I was kind of edgy. Today I told my caddie if we could get it to six-under for the round, we’d be in with a shout. It wasn’t playing easy. The flags were quite tucked. But we shot six-under and it was good enough.” It was vindication of a rebuilding process that he undertook last year after coming close in the Dimension Data Pro-Am. The process was on track as he was runner-up in Cape Town in February, and it all came together in the final event of the season. “I’m speechless,” he said. “It’s an amazing feeling. I’ve been close a couple of times now. I’ve been playing well and I’m just glad I could pull one off. I wasn’t looking good last year. Somehow, I found something and here we are.”  
Lawrence drives into Tour Championship leadThriston Lawrence smashed a booming drive down 18 on Saturday on his way to a seven-under-par 65 and the 54-hole lead in the Sunshine Tour’s Tour Championship at Serengeti Estates. He made seven birdies and an eagle in an assault on the course that was matched by his playing partner Ockie Strydom, and, but for his two bogeys, Lawrence could have been further clear than the one-stroke edge he has over Strydom going into the final round. “The tee shot on 18 was the same as yesterday’s, I think it was just downwind today,” said Lawrence of his 360-metre monster final tee-shot. “Yesterday it was from the left and today it was more down. These golf courses, you get a patch that kikuyu and you get a patch that’s dry, so it probably pitched on the dry spot and just went, I don’t know, probably 360 and it made the hole quite easy.” His eagle came on the 16th – as did Strydom’s – but it was the pair of bogeys Lawrence made on the par-threes on nine and 15 which frustrated him. “I’d have wished to play the par-threes better,” he said. “Yesterday I also made a bogey on the ninth – I think that was my only bogey on the par-threes – but if I can play the par-threes a little bit better and maybe birdie all the par-fives, I think I’ll be in with a shout.” Strydom followed his brilliant bogey-free seven-under of the second round with more of the same. Like Lawrence, the eagle on 16 was important. “They actually put the tee-box a little bit up for us there,” he said, “and I knew if I got that little sling-draw going, it would be perfect. I got it going, and I had 176 to the flag. I played a soft seven-iron to about seven feet and knocking that in was a momentum builder for me.” He rode that momentum to chip in on 18 to stay just one behind Lawrence. “My approach was into the grain, so I pushed it a little bit,” he said. “As I was standing over the chip shot, I knew it was left edge and it had to go in. And it just went in!” One shot behind Strydom in a share of third were Jake Roos who fired a five-under 67, and halfway leader Jean Hugo who wasn’t able to buy a birdie until he reached the 16th. He made two in a row then for his 70 and the pair is two shots off the lead heading into what should be a tight final sprint for the line. For Lawrence, who is seeking his maiden win in a season which has produced four top-10s on his way into this limited field finale to the Sunshine Tour season, there seems to be no reason to change his approach. “I’ll do what I’m doing even tomorrow,” he said. “I’m hitting it well off the tee so, the key is just to keep hitting it on the fairways and give myself some opportunities and hopefully the putter keeps on working.”  
Hugo pulls one shot clear at Serengeti

Hugo pulls one shot clear at Serengeti

Jean Hugo followed up on his opening round of five-under-par 67 with a 68 in the second round of the season-ending Tour Championship which gave him a one-shot lead on nine-under-par at Serengeti Estates. Co-leading after round one, albeit by just one shot, Hugo started off slowly in round two, making four pars on the trot. He found joy on the par-three fifth hole, making a birdie there and followed that up with another on the sixth. A par on the seventh preceded another birdie but he gave back two shots as he made a double-bogey on the par-three ninth. “I played well, slow start again but I made a few putts,”, said Hugo who is now the solo leader. “On five and six, those two good ones to get going. And then, on the green for two on eight, the first time ever that I have gone for it. I two-putted that for birdie so I was three-under and eight-under total, happy. Then, I kind of pulled my six-iron on nine, different kind of wind today, but I wasn’t overly dissatisfied.” His back nine started the same his front did; with four straight pars but then Hugo made three consecutive birdies from the 14th through to the 16th in what was a bogey-free back nine. “I just kept it going,” he said of his back nine. “I then made a big putt on 13 to save par and then a big one for birdie, and another on 15 for birdie. On 16, I went for the green, up-and-downed nicely for a birdie. But nine-under is good. I’m hitting it where I’m looking and that’s good and I’m making the putts. It feels good.” Closely behind Hugo comes Jean-Paul Strydom whose blemish-free five-under 67 pushed him right ahead of Keenan Davidse who shared the overnight lead with Hugo, and Sweden’s Philip Eriksson who are both seven-under par for the week. Birdies on the second and eighth holes characterised Strydom’s front nine and an important eagle on the par-five 11th, accompanied by a birdie on the 16th brought his total to eight-under-par for the week. “Good ball-striking,” Strydom noted after his round, “I mean, yesterday as well, I just didn’t make the putts. But today I made a couple, and missed a couple. Flawless today; I hit one bad driver and that was on the 18th, pulled it into the bunker because it didn’t fade enough. And, the greens are not easy to read here but I’m happy with the round.” Leader of the Investec Order of Merit of the Gary Player Class, Davidse shares the third spot with Eriksson while Jake Roos, JJ Senekal and Thriston Lawrence are in a three-way tie for the fifth spot.
De Smidt wins Q-School to reclaim playing rightsDe Smidt wins Q-School to reclaim playing card Ruan de Smidt reclaimed his Sunshine Tour playing card in spectacular fashion at Houghton Golf Club, carding a second successive 67 to earn a one-stroke victory of the Final Stage of Qualifying School. Having not earned himself enough money in the season to keep his card, the four-time Sunshine Tour winner found himself outside of the top 100 players in the Order of Merit and thus lost his playing privileges. He went into the final round of Qualifying School trailing Peetie van der Merwe and amateur Luke Mayo by two shots on nine-under-par following his third-round 67. He announced his intentions clearly and quite early on in the round, going five-under in his first six holes of the final round. In those six holes, he made a birdie on his first hole, another on the fourth and then followed that up with an eagle on the par-five fifth hole before making another birdie on the next hole. A bogey on the seventh threatened to derail his progress but De Smidt would have none of that, birdieing the eighth hole to turn in 31. A level-par 36 on the back nine – which consisted of a birdie on the 12th and a bogey on the last hole – was solid enough to ward off the challenge mounted by Aubrey Beckley who finished a shot behind De Smidt. While there’s pressure for almost all the players to play well in order to attain their playing rights, De Smidt wasn’t one of those. “If you’re not playing well there’s a lot of pressure,” he said, “but, I’ve been playing well. Even the 71 I shot on day one, I felt I was playing well but the putts were not dropping in. It makes it a little easier when you’re a couple of shots under-par in the first two rounds because you’re not really worried. I knew I was playing well so I was not worried” De Smidt, however, and by his own admission, did have something worrying him in the final two rounds at Houghton. “I was more nervous for my boetie (Darin),” said De Smidt. “I know how long the struggle was for him. He’s been playing so nicely and I’m just super happy that he made it.” The 34 players earning their cards:
  1. Ruan de Smidt
  2. Aubrey Beckley
  3. Tristen Strydom
  4. James Allan, Garrick Higgo, Luke Mayo
  5. Ryan O’Neill, Toby Tree, Ryan Tipping, Kyle Barker, Peetie van der Merwe
  6. Damon Stephenson, Kyle Souza
  7. Sean Bradley, Rupert Kaminski, Deon Germishuys, Wayne Stroebel
  8. Andrew McLardy, Matthew Rushton, Bradley Diggeden, Clinton Grobler
  9. Stefan Wears-Taylor, Roberto Lupini, Erhard Lambrechts
  10. Kyle McClatchie
  11. Basil Wright, Theunis Bezuidenhout, Arno Pretorius, Ruan Botha, Hayden Griffiths, Christopher van der Merwe, Darin de Smidt, Jonathan Waschefort, Jade Buitendag
Fast start for Davidse in Tour Champs 3Keenan Davidse started fast on Thursday in the first round of the Tour Championship at Serengeti Estates to share the lead with Jean Hugo in the Sunshine Tour’s season-ending tournament. His round began on the back nine, and he made five birdies on his way to the turn in 31. Just a single bogey came on the first – his 10th – and he picked that shot back up again with a closing birdie on the par-three ninth. “I hit it in a fairway bunker on the right on the first,” he said, “and I just chipped it out and took my medicine. I know it’s a cliché, but it was just about staying patient. I’m quite chuffed.” He was particularly pleased, because during Wednesday’s opening round of the pro-am section of the tournament, he was wondering where a score was going to come from. “I wasn’t in a good space yesterday when we started with the pro-am,” he said. “Obviously I’ve sorted out everything, but it was tough out there.” His game has been there or thereabouts for a while. “I played well in the last tournament too,” he said. “That was without a driver. This week, I have a driver and I’m smashing it a long way – I’m shocking myself! “The putter is also working well for me. That’s the main thing for scoring. I hit a few close today, but the putter is rolling nicely. Derick Petersen told me I was striking the ball off the toe with my putts, so I worked on striking it in the centre. But one thing that stood out today was my putting.” Hugo didn’t drop a single shot in his 67, and attributed his scoring to leaving his three-iron out of his bag in favour of a gap-wedge. “That just gave me good distances to the greens, which was really helpful,” he said. He made five birdies on his homeward nine, not picking a single shot in his first nine after starting on 10. In a share of third, one shot further back, were JC Ritchie, who won the Limpopo Championship 10 days ago, JJ Senekal who won the Zanaco Masters in Zambia last April, and Swede Philip Eriksson, who won the Dimension Data Pro-Am last month. Sunshine Tour Order of Merit leader Zander Lombard had a forgettable start to the tournament that is essentially his ‘lap of honour’ before picking up the Sid Brews Trophy for his feat: He carded a nine-over-par 81 to bring up the rear of the 40-man field, with a round that a quadruple-bogey nine on the par-five eighth, two double-bogeys and five bogeys. For Davidse, it’s a question of finding more of the same in the remaining three rounds. “If I can get three more rounds like this one, no-one will catch me,” he laughed.  
Van der Merwe surges to share of lead at HoughtonVan der Merwe surges to share of lead at Houghton An impressive third-round 67 by Peetie van der Merwe at the Final Stage Qualifying School at Houghton Golf Club catapulted him to a share of a thin two-stroke lead with red-hot amateur, Luke Mayo on Wednesday. In what he described as a shaky start to the round, Van der Merwe opened with a bogey, then a par and made a birdie on the third hole. That gain was short-lived as he gave back another shot on the par-four fourth hole before making a huge leap with an eagle on the fifth. He made a birdie on the sixth and that was the first of four birdies on the trot because after turning in 34, he went on a three-birdie run from the 10th. Two pars later, another birdie made it onto his card before he got bitten on the par-three 16th as he made his third bogey of the round. “I got off to a shaky start, bogey on the first hole,” he noted, “but I made a good birdie on three, the par-five. Gave a shot back at the fourth hole, that tight little par-four and then I eagled five and birdied six, so I think that just kick-started the round for me.” He credited his improved putting for the low score on day three. “I struggled with the putter in round two, still played well but the putter was just off. Today I putted much better, made a long birdie-putt on 10. So, today was much better,” Van der Merwe said. Maintaining his spot at the top, 19-year old Mayo shot a bogey-free two-under-par 70 which took his total to 11-under-par for the tournament and with a firm grip on things ahead of the final round. The first of his birdies was on the third hole while he made the second on the 11th hole. “Today I played really solidly,” Mayo said after his round. “It’s always nice to go bogey-free and I’m just happy to get to double digits under-par.” Still only a teenager and performing at a high level all week long in Houghton, Mayo will not be distracted by the thrill of leading a tournament and is adamant that a level head is a must. “I played with Ryan Tipping today and he gave me very useful tips, and he’s like double my age,” said Mayo, “so I’m just going to go out and not think too much tomorrow, just do the same things I’ve been doing. Same game-plan.” Sharing the third spot on nine-under-par are Ruan de Smidt who shot a 67, Tristen Strydom and Kyle Barker who both signed for 70s in round three.
‘Lap of honour’ for Lombard in Tour ChampsWhile the Sunshine Tour’s Tour Championship at Serengeti Estates this week is shaping up to be something of a victory lap for Zander Lombard, there’s more at stake than simply confirming his status as the 2018-19 Order of Merit winner. He has a nearly R640,000 advantage over his nearest rival, Justin Harding, and with Harding opting to rest up ahead of the crucial World Golf Championship-Dell Technologies Match Play in Texas next week, Lombard certainly can’t be caught by the man in third, Bryce Easton. With the winner of the Tour Championship taking home R240,000 of the R1.5-million purse, Lombard will certainly be presented with the Sid Brews Trophy for winning the Order of Merit when the tournament ends. “It will sink in on Sunday when I actually get the trophy,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been working towards for a long time and it’s nice to get rewarded.” Of course, there is the small matter of the tournament that he’d like to win, too. “You still want to win every time you tee it up,” he said. “I’m definitely going to focus out there, but whatever happens, it’s been an awesome season on the Sunshine Tour.” His own game is in pretty good shape, as well, as he finds himself in 41st spot on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai rankings with a share of third at December’s Alfred Dunhill Championship the highlight of his season record. “I’m hitting the ball really well,” he said. “I just need to put some finishing touches on my game, because the course is quite tricky out there. There are a lot of slopes on the greens, and there’s a lot of rough, so I think tidying up will be tricky this week.” Despite those possible problems, Serengeti is a course he likes. “I think it’s an awesome course,” he said. “It suits my game. It’s very American-style. It’s long and it’s not narrow, but if you miss the fairways, you’re going to struggle to make par. Hitting fairways will be key this week to help you get the ball onto the right tiers of the greens.” While a lot of the attention will be on Lombard, there are other players who will want the prestige of winning the Tour Championship. Perhaps the most likely-looking winner in the 40-man field is JC Ritchie, fresh off his victory in the Limpopo Championship – and that followed a win the week before with Jaco Prinsloo in the Team Championship. Besides Ritchie and Lombard – who won the Vodacom Origins of Golf event at Zebula in August last year – there are 10 other 2018-19 Sunshine Tour winners in the field, and 11 if you count Prinsloo. That’s some serious firepower and whoever wins will have to produce a complete performance.  
Els names Immelman, Choi, Weir as captain’s assistantsPresidents Cup International Team Captain Ernie Els announced South Africa’s Trevor Immelman, Korea’s K.J. Choi and Canada’s Mike Weir as his final three captain’s assistants for the 2019 Presidents Cup, which will return to The Royal Melbourne Golf Club in Melbourne, Australia for a third time from December 9-15. Els previously named Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy as captain’s assistant in late November. Choi will return as an assistant for the second time after serving as vice captain to Nick Price when the Presidents Cup made its debut in Korea in 2015. A three-time Presidents Cup competitor (2003, 2007, 2011), Choi owns a 6-8 overall record and posted a 3-2 mark in 2011 at Royal Melbourne, where he partnered with fellow captain’s assistant Ogilvy to win two Four-ball matches. “I’m personally very happy and honoured,” Choi said. “You need amazing teamwork to win the Presidents Cup. It’s our role as captain’s assistants to bring together players of different nationalities and have them blend well together. It’s our role to have them open up to us and help relieve some of the pressure they might feel.” Choi’s more than 20 professional victories worldwide included eight career PGA TOUR titles, which were highlighted by his dramatic playoff win at THE PLAYERS Championship in 2011. Considered Asia’s most successful golfer to date, Choi spent 40 weeks inside the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking. “As the most successful Asian golfer on the PGA TOUR, K.J. certainly commands a lot of respect amongst our players and I believe he will fire up our guys at Royal Melbourne,” Els said. “K.J. has a calm demeanour, which will be a valuable asset in our team room and out on the golf course during the heat of battle. I’ll be counting on K.J. to impart his vast experience of being a three-time International Team member as well as a captain’s assistant when we map out our strategies during the competition.” Els also tabbed fellow South African Immelman, who will make his debut as a captain’s assistant with two Presidents Cup berths on his resume (2005, 2007); he and Els shared one Presidents Cup appearance together in 2007. In 2017, Immelman served as the first-ever International Team Captain for the Junior Presidents Cup, which debuted at Plainfield Country Club just days prior to the Presidents Cup at Liberty National. “I’m very excited. I can’t wait really. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities to play in ’05 and ’07, and it was a very enjoyable time in my career,” Immelman said. “For me, I probably know [Ernie] better than any of the other people on TOUR and so hopefully that’s what I can bring to the team is the fact that I really understand the captain. I know his history, I know his record, I obviously hold him in great esteem and so maybe I can be a good conduit from players to the team captain.” Immelman is a two-time PGA TOUR winner whose career is highlighted by his victory at the 2008 Masters, where he edged Tiger Woods by three strokes. He also teamed with Rory Sabbatini in 2003 to win South Africa’s most recent World Cup of Golf title. “I have known Trevor for a very long time and trust him fully to know that he will be an integral element in our team,” Els said. “As a fellow competitor, Trevor is as steely as they come and I am sure this attribute will rub off positively onto our players. When I played in the same team as Trevor in 2007, he was one of our most determined players and I know he will contribute to our cause in Australia.” Weir will return for his second stint as a captain’s assistant after serving for Nick Price at the 2017 Presidents Cup. He has competed in five Presidents Cups (2000, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009) and was a teammate of Els four times. The eight-time PGA TOUR winner is 13-9-2 all-time at the Presidents Cup and one of five International Team members with 10 or more match wins in the competition. In 2007, the Presidents Cup was staged in Canada for the first time, and Weir put on a show for his Canadians fans with a 3-1-1 record that was capped by a thrilling 1-up victory over Tiger Woods in Singles. “The Presidents Cup has been a big part of my career. I grew up playing a lot of team sports and when I made my first Presidents Cup team in 2000 it was really one of the highlights,” Weir said. “So it’s been special to still be part of the team as an assistant to Nick and now Ernie. We have a long history. We’re basically the same age, we’ve played a lot of golf together so it’s going to be really fun to try to get the Internationals over the line this time.” Of his eight PGA TOUR victories, Weir’s most triumphant moment came with his breakthrough playoff win at the 2003 Masters – one of three titles he collected that season. “I’ve played on the same International Team with Mike on four occasions and he’s one of the most passionate guys I know when it comes to the Presidents Cup,” Els said. “I also worked alongside Mike as a captain’s assistant in 2017 and he brought a considerable amount of experience and input into our team room and provided a positive influence on our players. His presence will be invaluable as we seek to regain the Presidents Cup.” For more information about the Presidents Cup, please visit presidentscup.com and follow the Presidents Cup on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  
Mayo leads at Final Stage Q-SchoolMayo leads at Final Stage Q-School Amateur Luke Mayo continued his fine form at the Sunshine Tour’s Final Stage Qualifying School when he backed up his opening 66 with a 69 on day two to take a slim one-stroke lead on nine-under-par ahead of the third round at Houghton Golf Club. Having turned in 34 after a bogey-free front nine which consisted of birdies on the par-five third hole and then the sixth, the 19-year old Mayo who plays out of Mount Edgecombe looked relentless in his pursuit of the top spot on the leaderboard. He made par at the turn, a birdie on 11 and another par on the next hole before going on a three-birdie run from the 13th through to the 15th. He then made a brilliant par save on the par-three 16th but a double-bogey on the 17th plus another bogey on the last hole got in the way of what was promising to be a brilliant round of golf by Mayo. “I started off nice and solid again,” he noted, “but obviously, the way I finished, I wasn’t happy with that. But, I’m still happy to be nine-under-par after two rounds and in a good position to finish in the top 30. “But, there’s still half of the tournament to be played so I won’t change anything, won’t do anything special except carry on doing what I am doing. I’m hitting the ball nicely and rolling them in.” He also refuses to get distracted by the fact that he is at the summit of the leaderboard, insisting that his is the best position to be in at the moment. “I would rather be in this position rather than to be around or outside the cut,” said Mayo, “because I don’t really have to push things in the next two days but yeah, nine-under after two round I would have definitely taken at the beginning of the week.” A shot behind Mayo and sitting second, Deon Germishuys, an amateur as well, backed up his first-round 68 with a similar score in round two to get to eight-under for the week. Like Mayo, Germishuys only managed to make two birdies on the front nine, then another on the 13th before taking full advantage of the par-five 15th where he made an eagle. “I hit driver, five-iron to about two meters and made that eagle,” he said, “it was a pretty steady round but I made a stupid drop on the 17th but that’s golf, you’re always going to have that. But I’m happy I could put two rounds together, it’s always good to start a tournament like that. I’m happy but I just need to make more putts.” Veteran Ryan Tipping also had a solid round and lies in a share of third with Kyle Barker and Tristen Strydom on seven-under.  
Spacey: short game will be keySpacey: short game will be key Matthew Spacey reckons the key to scoring well this week at the Final Stage of Qualifying School at Houghton Golf Club, will be a strong short game. “The big part of your game that should be on point here is your short game,” he said, “it has to be good. If you are missing greens, you can short-side yourself very badly. I think hitting fairways and greens full-on and then just reading your lines right.” He was speaking after his opening round of 70, and after getting a feel of what the course is playing like this week, Spacey’s own plan for the week became clearer. “My plan this week is just to keep the ball in play off the tee and hit the greens,” he said.  “If it is a par-four, get four. It is always very tough with the scores. You just have to kind of play very, very solid and make no mistakes. Par is key in my mind and anything above that is pretty much a bonus,” he said. With his own game in good shape currently, Spacey will want to build on his opening 70 because while he feels the scores are going to be tight, there’s been some indications that the layout in Houghton is as testing as it can be generous. Early scores that have come in have been low, with the clubhouse lead being six-under-par, a sign that players here can go very low at any given time on this golf course. “The course is playing very nice,” he noted. “The rough is not as thick as I thought, but the course is awesome. The greens are good and fairways are good. It is nice and tight.”
Hot putter hands Wears-Taylor slender lead at Houghton

Hot putter hands Wears-Taylor slender lead at Houghton

The first round of the Final Stage of Qualifying School got underway at Houghton Golf Club and while there were plenty of good scores, it was Stefan Wears-Taylor who took a one-stroke lead on seven-under 65 on day one. He picked up consecutive birdies on his first two holes and made further gains on the par-five fifth and on the seventh hole in a bogey-free front nine. “The putter worked well today,” he admitted after his round, “and we read the lines well, my caddie and I. I was striking the ball nicely and I thought everything was just gelling together.” That warm putter of his got hot on the homeward stretch, making three birdies on the trot from the 10th through to the 12th hole. A par on the 13th was soon followed by an unwelcome bogey but Wears-Taylor quickly dealt with that situation, responding with a birdie on the 15th. “Funny, on the 10th, I skied a three-wood out of the rough,” he recalled, “but sometimes, you get a lucky break. Hit the pin with my third shot and just rolled that one in. 11 and 12, I knocked them in to good range and just rolled them nicely into the middle of the cup.” A shot behind him, amateurs Jaco van der Merwe, Donovan Liddicoat, Luke Mayo and Darin de Smidt, along with Gerhard Pepler shared second spot on six-under-par 66. For the longest part of the day it looked like Mayo was going to end the day leading and his ace on the 14th hole had a lot to do with that thinking, only for him to drop a shot on the seventh hole, his 16th. “I just wanted a solid start,” said Mayo. “So that hole-in-one helped. I had about 155 (meters) to the flag and I just hit a knock-down nine-iron into the wind. I was a bit shocked and I had to keep focused after that because I was, obviously, a bit excited. But I putted nicely today, kept the ball in play and that’s key around here.” American Kyle Souza, England’s Toby Tree who is still recovering from an injury that forced him out of the Limpopo Championship two weeks ago, his compatriot, James Allan and Peetie van der Merwe all shared seventh spot on the leaderboard after they signed for an opening five-under 67.  
Manchest seals victory at Vusi Ngubeni Q-SchoolFranklin Manchest claimed his first victory as a professional player by two shots at the Vusi Ngubeni Qualifying School after carding a level-par final round to finish 10-under-par 278 at Modderfontein Golf Club on Friday. Manchest beat Gerrit Foster with whom he was paired by two shots, with Teboho Sefatsa, who clinched the victory from Manchest last year, three shots off the pace. Keelan Africa, who climbed to the top of the leaderboard during the final round, finished fourth on six-under 282. The players led the way for the 18 players who got their Sunshine Tour cards. The 21-year-old Machest managed to keep calm after making a double-bogey on the par-four second. He quickly made a birdie on the third and made another one on eight. After the turn, he made more gains on 12th and 14th, but then undid that good work with two more bogeys on the 15th and 18th. “Today, it wasn’t as easy as the other days,” he said. “It was the toughest of them all because the wind blew for most of the round, but I stuck to it. I managed to keep my mindset clear and just stuck to my basics. Last year I was leading going into the last round. Today I was going against Sefatsa again. He asked me if it felt like deja vu to me and I said it did not, because this year I am the one who is going to take it.” The George Golf Club representative said the double on the second was caused by some confusion between him and his caddy, Carlo Heunis. “We had the right club in hand and then we decided just before we hit the shot that the wind was blowing a bit harder. I took more club and planned to hit it soft, but I hit it too hard and it just went on the left of the green and got into the hazard,” he said. Now that he has got his card back for the 2019-20 Sunshine Tour season, he said he is planning to do things differently this time around to avoid finding himself in a similar situation where he had to fight for his card. “The reason I found myself in this situation again as last year is that everything was just disorganised. I did not have enough money to play certain tournaments and it was always a rush to tournaments. I had to go a day or two before the time because I could not afford to go a few days ahead. But this year, obviously, with my golf looking up again, I will try and have a better schedule and plan my stuff better. I will not play week-after-week just to make the cut, but I will plan the tournaments. This time I am going for it all out,” he said. The leading 15 players and ties were eligible for membership in category nine on the Sunshine Tour for the 2019-20 season. Players finishing in positions 16-30 (and ties) will be granted entry into the Final Stage of the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School. Players who finish in positions one to 40 and ties will also be eligible to play the Big Easy Tour. The tournament is named after Vusi Ngubeni, a former Sunshine Tour board member and director of Eskom who was killed in a car accident in 2003. The aim of the tournament is to afford previously disadvantaged golfers an opportunity to join and compete on the Sunshine Tour and realise their dreams of becoming professional golfers.  

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