Ritchie takes slender lead in Modimolle

7th March 2019 | Sunshine Tour

Ritchie takes slender lead in Modimolle

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Ritchie takes slender lead in Modimolle

JC Ritchie who is still fresh from last week’s win set the pace at the inaugural Limpopo Championship when he carded six-under-par 66 to take a single-shot lead after the first round at Euphoria Golf & Lifestyle Estate on Thursday.

“I managed to hit some brilliant shots coming down the stretch and made some nice birdies,” he said after the round. “The birdie on 16 was a good one. I had a nice tee shot and I had a perfect yardage at 140 for the wedge. I just hit it right to the pin and I made a nice putt there. The 17th was a tricky one, I struggled to get a yardage. I had an interesting lie on 18th and it was inspired by some adrenaline. Unlucky not to get a birdie, but I will take par.”

One shot off Ritchie’s lead are Rourke van der Spuy, Jaco Ahlers and Riekus Nortje who all shot 67s.

Ritchie opened his round with six straight pars, then got his first birdie on the par-four seventh which was followed by an eagle on the ninth. He made a further gain as he birdied the par-four 10th, but soon after, he made an unwelcome bogey on the 11th, his only drop in the round. Another birdie on the 12th made its way onto his card and two more on the 16th and 17th.

Ritchie who also won Sun Carnival City Challenge in August said today’s round was the continuation of last week’s form when he won the Team Championship with Jaco Prinsloo. “I think last week was a bit more of Jaco’s form,” he admits. “Not that I played badly, but I think watching him play that well calmed me down. That also helped me a bit today just to stay patient and give myself chances.”

Ritchie was not sure how low someone would have to go to win this week. “I think all the players have been talking and asking what is going to be a win this week, but the common number is between 12 and 14,” he said. “The guys feel like the golf course isn’t playing easy. As good as the greens are, they are tricky to read and they are going to get quicker.

“The length of the golf course with the long rough, it can punish you. So, if you are a little bit off this week, two, three-under-par every day is a good score. You just need to keep it in play and give yourself chances often.”

With this being the penultimate event this season, the importance of a strong finish this week has not escaped the players, including Ritchie.

“This week is big,” he noted, “especially, because there is a bunch of players that will have to keep their exemptions or lose exemption this week. So, this week is very important and also for getting into the Tour Champs next week. It is big and not only for the prize money but more of what we are playing for.”


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