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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.  
Manchest maintains Vusi Ngubeni Q-School leadFranklin Manchest made fewer birdies than he did in the previous two rounds, but he was happy with the two-under par which saw him maintain his lead going to the final round of the Vusi Ngubeni Qualifying School on 10-under at Modderfontein Golf Club on Thursday. Behind Manchest, who is leading by two shots, are Gerrit Foster, Teboho Sefatsha and Keelan Africa with amateur Keelan van Wyk in fifth on six under par. Manchest opened his round with an eagle, but dropped a shot on the second hole with the first of three bogeys of his round. He made another bogey on the par-five sixth and a birdie on eight. He made two more birdies on the 11th and the 13th and another bogey on the 16th. “I did not make as many putts as I did on the previous two days, but I kept it together nicely,” he said. “It started off on the first hole. I hit my tee shot a bit left, but I was not too worried about that, because it is a par-five. I hit my approach shot onto the green and then I chipped in for eagle. I was like, okay, you can do this. As we went on, there were few tough pin positions, but I managed to keep calm and hit it to the right side of the green and tried to make some putts.” The overnight leader found himself under trees on his way to the 18th but managed to make a good save. “I took the wrong club on the tee shot,” he admitted. “It was too much club, and it went straight into the trees. I got there to find that my ball was not lying in too bad a position. I ended up at the back of the green. I just aimed for a par there and I managed to make that putt for par.” Manchest does not want to get too carried away by the lead going to the final round. “The score gives me a bit more confidence than I had on the past three days. But tomorrow, let’s just go out there and treat it the same as today and the other two days.” 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.  
Manchest opens three-shot lead at ModderfonteinFranklin Manchest had to deal with his nerves again as he shot another 68 to take a three-shot lead after the second round of the Vusi Ngubeni Qualifying School at Modderfontein Golf Club on Wednesday. Trailing Manchest on five-under at the halfway mark are Thanda Mavundla who is fighting for a comeback to the tour after a two-year break, overnight leader Teboho Sefatsa, Gerrit Foster and Keelan van Wyk. Makhetha Mazibuko and Jacquin Hess were a further shot back after Hess carded the round of the day with his six-under 66. “I was a little bit nervous,” Manchest, who also had to fight nerves in the first round, said. “But I did not want to let that get to me. I said to myself, keep it calm, you know what to do and just do it. It’s not the pressure that is making me nervous. I would say it is because I always want to impress myself more than I impress other people and that is why I get nervous.” The 21-year-old player who started on the 10th made two straight birdies on his third and fourth. He made two more gains at his turn, another one his 12th and the last one on his 17th. He made two bogeys on his 13th and 15th. “My round started off very quiet,” he said. “Maybe not too quiet, because on my third hole, I holed a very long putt and from there, I got into the rhythm of the game.” The George Golf Club representative said he has a soft spot for the course. “It is my second time playing here. My first time was last year for the same event. The course suits my eye and it is very similar to my home course. It is just the greens that differ, but the speed is pretty much the same. There are a lot of trees and you have to hit the fairway.” Manchest said he would not change his working formula on the two final days. “I will just keep doing what I have been doing on the next two days. I must keep hydrated on the golf course because it is very hot out here. I expect to get my card because my game has been great for a long time, but I just did not get the push through that I needed.” 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.  
Croy makes good first impression at Vusi Ngubeni Q-SchoolAmateur Neswill Croy waited until he felt comfortable about his game before he went full out to hunt for a Sunshine Tour card at this week’s Vusi Ngubeni Qualifying School where he was solid in his first round at Modderfontein Golf Club on Tuesday. “This is my first time coming to the Q-School,” he said. “I was going to come last year, but I then decided to stay behind and prepare myself better. I didn’t feel bad about that really. This year I worked a lot on my game. I feel really confident and my game is on a good level. I am looking forward to the rest of the week.” The 23-year-old fired a two-under-par 70 in his opening round thanks to his dedication to sharpening his skills. Croy who comes from Kuilsriver in Cape Town, feels like this is his right time to join the top-flight with all the work he has put on. “To be honest, getting a Sunshine Tour card would mean the world to me,” he said. “I have been studying for a PGA Diploma down in the Cape. I have seen the changes in my game and I am playing nicely now so I decided to give it a try. I am just chasing my dream. I think the card will help me to make a better living and have a better future,” he said. Croy who recently started working as a marshall at Kuilsriver Golf Club, which he represents, spends every chance he gets to practice. “I get time to practice every morning before I start my work at 7am. If I work the full day, I take a golf cart at 6pm after I knock off and go play nine holes if it is not yet dark. On my off days, I am on the golf course the whole time, literally.” The love of the game was born after he grew up watching his father, Gerhardus Lodewyk Petersen and his brother, Frank Croy, who used to play at amateur level. “My father and brother used to play golf. So, I started hitting some balls from the age of nine. They have since stopped playing. I just want to keep their legacy in golf alive. They did not really play that well, but the inspiration from their side caught up with me. I just want to show them that they shouldn’t have stopped playing.” He feels his first round was a confidence booster. “It was a very good round from tee to green,” he said. “I left a couple of putts out there, especially on my back nine. I missed at least five seven-footers, but I had a solid round of golf. I enjoyed it, especially with Sipho Bujela and Kenneth Dube. Those two guys are ridiculously good to play with. So, my round was good. I am confident and my plan worked well.” He needs it to keep working in order to make it to the list of 15 players who will get their cards come Friday. “My game plan going to the week is to stick exactly to the strategy that I have been working on since I arrived here in Johannesburg on Friday. My strategy worked pretty well in my first round. The irons, putting, driver and everything is really good. I just need to box a few more putts and I will be fine.”  
Sefatsa takes slender lead at Vusi Ngubeni Q-SchoolTeboho Sefatsa set the pace at the Vusi Ngubeni Qualifying School as he shot a good five-under-par 67 in an effort to regain his Sunshine Tour card at Modderfontein Golf Club on Tuesday. Sefatsa birdied the first, sixth and eighth holes, eagled the 10th, and birdied the 14th, but made a single unwanted bogey just before he turned to edge clear of Franklin Manchest by a single shot. Keelan van Wyk was next best on three-under, and in a congested share of fourth were Thabang Simon, Altaaf Bux, Jabulani Mabilane, Thanda Mavundla, Jastice Mashego and amateurs Neswill Croy and Dylan Naidoo. “It was a steady start,” Sefatsa said. “I started off with a great tee shot on one and it was an easy birdie for me. I just kept on being steady and I chipped in on the sixth. My next birdie, I made on the eighth hole. Unfortunately, on nine, I had my worst swing of the day, I hit it in the water and got up and down for bogey there. In the back nine, I just continued in a positive frame of mind. I eagled number 10. I then birdied the 14th and just putted all the way in. I just kept giving myself chances and I played really good today.” He won last year’s event at Modderfontein and also led the 2014 qualifiers from the event which was held at Crown Mines Golf Club. “I will just be me this week and just play the game,” he said about his game plan going to the next three rounds. “I try to play the game to the best of my ability. I know I can be up there week-in and week-out. Unfortunately, the 2018-19 season hasn’t been great. I played well, but no results. We are up and running again and we are hoping for the best. This is just another chance to reach my goals and realise my dreams and that is all it is. I just want to keep myself playing. Obviously, this is my passion. I love the game.” Manchest had to compose himself as he teed up in the morning.  “For some reason, I was a bit nervous at the beginning,” he said. “But I managed to get into my comfort zone and played my game. I played to my own strengths. Even though I did not hit all the shots as I wanted to, I still stuck to the clubs that I planned to take from the tee and not change my ideas. I putted well today. I am very happy for that. It will mean a lot to me to get my card back. If I get it back for the second time, I am going to make sure that I work hard enough that I don’t lose it again.” The school 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 Vusi Ngubeni Qualifying School is to afford previously disadvantaged golfers an opportunity to join and compete on the Sunshine Tour and realise their dreams of becoming professional golfers.  
Mazibuko among notables at Vusi Ngubeni Q-SchoolMakhetha Mazibuko is one of the prominent names entered into this year’s Vusi Ngubeni Qualifying School which tees off over 72 holes at Modderfontein Golf Club on Tuesday. Mazibuko, who was runner-up in the 2017 Eye of Africa PGA Championship to Erik van Rooyen, is fresh off a win on the IGT Challenge Tour. He is one of 152 players who are teeing it up in the tournament which gives previously disadvantaged players a chance to qualify to play on the Sunshine Tour. It is named after Vusi Ngubeni, a former Sunshine Tour board member and director of Eskom who was killed in a car accident in 2003. Other players who have excelled in previous versions of this event include Teboho Sefatsa who won last year at Modderfontein and also led the 2014 qualifiers from the event which was held at Crown Mines Golf Club, Allister de Kock who was a runner-up to Sefatsa in 2014 and also finished fourth last year, while Franklin Manchest finished second after Sefatsa last year. Sipho Bujela, who made his first cut of the season last week at the Limpopo Championship, is also not new to the tournament. He tied for second last year and tied for ninth in 2014 third in 2015. The experienced Omar Sandys finished third in 2015, one shot behind Bujela, in one of his many appearances in the tournament. Mazibuko claimed his win on the IGT Challenge Tour on 20 February at Modderfontein and he will want to continue where he left off as he tees off tomorrow. The leading 15 players and ties will be 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.  
Ritchie claims inaugural Limpopo ChampionshipRitchie claims inaugural Limpopo Championship JC Ritchie made it two wins in two weeks when he won the inaugural Limpopo Championship on the first playoff hole at Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate on Sunday. He signed for seven-under-par 65 in regulation to get to 18-under in regulation play and despite playing well all week long, it took Ritchie a strong back nine performance to force himself into a two-man playoff with Steve Surry who played amazing golf in Limpopo. The victory goes with his win in the Team Championship with Jaco Prinsloo last week. Having turned in 35, it didn’t look like Ritchie was in with a shout but four birdies and an eagle on the homeward stretch brought him back into it. “It started off tough, very slow and it didn’t look like it was going anywhere,” said Ritchie of his final round of the first Limpopo Championship. “But, to turn on the fire on the back nine like I did means a lot more to me than people may think. “After nine holes I had a good talking to myself. I had to do a bit of a game-change. In the beginning of the week all I wanted was just to hit greens, keep it in play and give myself chances but from the second round I saw guys were finding birdies out here so between yesterday and today I had to do something to start making birdies and today that back nine turned out good for me.” With this tournament important to many players for all sorts of reasons – some playing to save their cards, others to get into the Tour Championship in two weeks’ time and others playing to improve their general standing on the Order of Merit – Ritchie also had something to play for. “This win is huge for me,” he said, “not only for the win itself but my Order of Merit position. Going into Tour Champs, this win means so much to me and to have everyone here – my girlfriend and my friends, it was such a special event.” He admits, however, that while he played himself, there were nervy moment especially on the last hole and the playoff hole. “On the last hole of regulation, I was quite stressed,” he said, “I just told myself ‘just make contact’, I can fly the hazard, it’s not in play. I pulled it a little and it went a mile. I hit about 195 down the last hole, hit six-iron to about five foot. I was a little shaky over the putt and didn’t know where to hit it and it just lipped out. “The second time around (in the play-off hole) I didn’t hit the tee shot as good. I had 230 to the flag and hit a four-iron to about three and a half foot. I feel like I have to feel sorry to Steve (Surry) because he played so solidly the whole week. He played beautifully today and did everything he could. He put up a brilliant challenge this week.” This marks Ritchie’s third Order of Merit victory on Tour.
Surry in slender lead at Limpopo ChampionshipSurry pulls one shot clear at Limpopo Championship England Steve Surry is happy to take a single shot lead to the final round of the Limpopo Championship after shooting four-under-par 68 to total 13-under for the week at Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate. “It is pretty solid today,” Surry who was among the overnight leaders said. “I got off to a good start. Four-under and I will take it. The course was playing nice. There was not much wind on the front nine, a bit of breeze on the back nine but nothing really to worry about. It was perfect scoring conditions.” Surry’s front nine was flawless with three birdies. He made further gains on the 11th and 17th holes but his only bogey of the round managed to sneak in on the par four-16. “I hit a nice bunker shot on 14th,” he said. “I pulled a bogey on 16th which was a bit annoying, but I am good. It is very good playing with Lyle Rowe. I spent a night sleeping next to him and it is fun playing with him. I am looking forward to playing tomorrow. It is nice being in contention. I will try and play my game and see what happens.” Just a shot behind Surry were Andrew van der Knaap and Christiaan Basson who are both on 12-under-par ahead of day four in Limpopo. Van der Knaap carded a second-round 66 while a 68 was enough to see Basson in the mix. Van der Knaap who came into this tournament with the aim of salvaging a season which threatened to see him lose his card was happy to be in the mix. “Today I played very nicely and very solid,” he said. “I had 24 putts around here. So, that was very nice. Ball striking was very good today. I hardly missed a shot today. The putter was warm that is why I put up the good score. “For sure it is a relief to see the movement on the Order of Merit. There was a lot of pressure on me to make the cut. I was scared for my Tour card. I did not want to leave anything to chance. I made the cut and now I am laying second on the leaderboard and it is awesome.” Basson was happy to be in contention again. “You miss it when you are not in there all the time,” he said, “I am really looking forward to tomorrow. Being out of the mix for a while, the nerves are high and the adrenaline is pumping, but I am very excited.” Neil Schietekat, JC Ritchie and Rowe shared fourth spot on 11-under while Hennie du Plessis, Riekus Nortje, Luke Jerling and Jaco Ahlers are tied seventh on 10-under-par.  
Surry in three-way share of Limpopo lead

Surry in three-way share of Limpopo lead

England’s Steve Surry carded a magnificent five-under-par 67 in the second round of the Limpopo Championship to get to a total of nine-under-par for the tournament and get himself into a three-way tie for the lead at Euphoria Golf and Lifestyle Estate. The one-time Sunshine Tour winner entered the round with a two-shot deficit after he carded a 68 in round one. Teeing off the 10th, Surry went birdie-par-birdie in his opening three holes to put himself among the leading players, and after pars on the 13th and 14th holes of the course – his fourth and fifth holes – the Englishman picked up another birdie on the par-three 15th. Unfortunately for him, though, he made his only bogey of the day on the par-three 17th. “I’m very pleased,” he said, “this golf course can be very tricky if you don’t drive it straight because the rough is quite thick. But I hit the ball really well on the back nine, missed a few putts. Missed one on four and then on five which was about seven feet, which was a bit annoying. Otherwise, I played really nicely but needed the putter to warm up just a little bit.” He made three more birdies on the homeward stretch. Just as solid on day two was Lyle Rowe whose 67 catapulted him to a share of the lead heading into the weekend. He turned in 33 and bogey-free after the three birdies he picked up on his front nine – the back nine of the course. He made three more birdies on the front nine but faltered on his 15th hole and made bogey there to finish nine-under-par. “I putted well today,” said Rowe, “but you have to drive the ball particularly well here. Off the fairways, the rough is a bit patchy and because it is dry, you’re never going to get a consistent lie. Nine-under after two rounds of the tournament, I will take it.” Overnight leader JC Ritchie is also in that three-way tie after his round-two 69. The biggest movers on day two, however, included Christiaan Basson who shot a 66 and Neil Schietekat who carded a 68 to share fourth with Basson, one shot behind the leading trio. Rookie Jade Buitendag played himself into a share of sixth thanks to the 67 he shot in round two. He shares that spot with Jacques P de Villiers and leader of the Investec Order of Merit of the Gary Player Class, Keenan Davidse and they are all seven-under-par.  
Bujela makes turnaround at Limpopo ChampionshipBujela makes turnaround at Limpopo Championship Sipho Bujela has had a terrible season. He hasn’t a single cut in 11 starts, but he feels he can pull out a win this week after he made his first cut after the second round at the Limpopo Championship at Euphoria Golf & Lifestyle Estate on Friday. Bujela, who is in danger of losing his Sunshine Tour card, had his hopes revived after shooting four-under-par to make a total of six-under for the week at the halfway mark. “With the way I am going, I can pick up a win here,” he said. “I did not have a good season, but I have put in some work. I skipped Cape Town Open and Dimension-Data Pro-Am to work on my game. It is paying off and I am really happy. The scores are not that deep and if I get it going nicely and keep doing what I am doing, I have got a good chance. “It is everyone’s dream to make a turnaround,” he said. “We all want to see ourselves up there on the leaderboard consistently. It is a good feeling to see myself up there. I haven’t been in this position in a while. It shows that I still have it. It is just a confidence booster. I am looking forward to the weekend.” The 29-year-old player has played the course well. “I am very pleased, to be honest,” he said. “This is a very challenging course. My game plan was just to keep it in play to give myself chances to make birdies. I only hit my driver three times today and most of the time I have been hitting my three-wood which I am more comfortable with. That really worked out. My putting was pretty good as well. I am very happy. “Yesterday my tee-shots were not as good as today. Today I have found a lot of fairways, I think I missed three fairways in total and that gives you a chance to find greens. The greens are so good and I am now confident on them. My ball striking has been pretty okay this week. My short game has been pretty good. That really saved me. You need that balance if your irons are a little bit off, your short game must be solid and I did that pretty good.” The Soweto Country Club representative feels he is growing as a player. “It is a bit tough. Scheduling sometimes becomes a challenge. You need to work your way around. Travelling all over and having to adjust are some of the things that you need to deal with. It is not easy if you are not in a good space in your game, but I am enjoying the journey and it has been pretty good.”
Scheepers fights for his card at Limpopo ChampionshipScheepers fights for his card at Limpopo Championship Marthin Scheepers who occupies the 156th and second-last spot on the Order of Merit knows he needs a win at the Limpopo Championship as he scrambles to keep his Sunshine Tour card. “Basically, I have to win,” he said. “I have to give a good chase. That was on my mind when I teed off for the first round. I told my parents that this is the easiest tournament for me for the year, because I know exactly what I have to do. There is no trying to make the cut or whatever. I just need to go out there and play my best golf. It is not that difficult though, I would say.” The rookie found himself on this position after making just a single cut out of 23 starts. Like for many other players, this second-last tournament of the season assumes greater significance as some are trying to keep their cards and others want to secure a spot in the top 50 of the money list to play in the Tour Championship in two weeks’ time. The 27-year-old player laid a good foundation for his dream at Euphoria Golf & Lifestyle Estate as he shot three-under-par 69 to lie 16th after the first round. He was three shots off JC Ritchie who took the lead. “It was a good round,” Scheepers said. “Good ball striking. I left a couple of putts out there still, but I hit a lot of greens to keep it in play and make a couple of putts. I feel like I’m not really driving well, but the tee shots are important. It is not really about hitting driver, but keeping it in play and you have to hit a lot of fairways here. The rough is a bit iffy, it is not easy to get out of it every time. It is not easy to hit the greens from there. “The greens are tricky for me. I struggled to read them,” he said. “I left a lot of putts out there. I had a lot of six, seven-footers that I missed for birdies. So, I still could have gotten another three or four shots, but I am happy with the three-under. “You need to be smart about it,” he said of the course designed by Swedish great Annika Sorenstam. “Get the right club at the right hole. There are a couple of holes where it is better to be shorter. Hit the longer club in, but give yourself a good chance of going at the flag.” The Akasia Golf Club representative made the single bogey of his round on the par-four 14th and he knows that he will have to make more birdies to keep the dream alive today.

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