5th June 2017 | IGT Golf

Barker’s birdie blitz earns Wingate Challenge lead

(PHOTO – Kyle Barker; credit CJ du Plooy)

TSHWANE, 5 June 2017 – Randpark golfer Kyle Barker staked a claim on the number one spot with a superb five-under-par 67 as the young guns lit up Wingate Park Country Club in the first round of the Wingate Challenge on Monday.

Barker dedicated his round to the late Vincent Tshabalala, who passed away at the age of 75 on Saturday, 3 June.

“I dedicate this round to the memory of the late Vincent, because we all need heroes to aspire to and Vincent Tshabalala was a true pioneer for not only black golfers in South Africa, but for any golfer who has to overcome great odds, ” said Barker.

“I was incredibly moved when we received black ribbons to honour Vincent and when they stopped play during the round so the whole field could all share in a moment of silence for him. It was such a fitting gesture, because he was a huge inspiration to the up-and-coming players on the amateur circuit and especially for the Gary Player School of 2017 players competing on the IGT Challenge Tour.”

Barker opened up a one shot lead over first season pro Paul Boshoff and finished two strokes clear of Pretoria rookie Ruan Korb.

Second-year pro Matthew Vogel from Bryanston finished three off the pace alongside amateur pair Philip Kruse from Pretoria and American Logan Lockwood, while four amateurs – Louis Albertse, Leon Vorster, Dean Martin and Wingate’s own JP Cooper – share seventh on 71.

In late March, Barker and his amateur partner Dylan Mostert broke their duck on IGT Challenge Tour when they shared the spoils in the Wanderers Better Ball Challenge.

The 19-year-old GolfWorx player signalled that he ready to challenge for his own silverware on the country’s premier golf development circuit with a tie for third in the Randpark Firethorn Challenge and another top 10 finish in the Waterkloof Challenge in his last two starts.

A solid opening round at Wingate Park could lay the foundation for that breakthrough.

Barker birdied the par-three fifth to eliminate a lone drop at the fourth before he racked up three birdies in succession from the seventh to turn three under  Further gains at 13 and 17 took him to the top of the pile.

“I enjoyed the round and I had a lot of fun with my playing partners, Philip (Kruse) and Pieter (Moolman). I’m really pleased with today’s performance because I was never in any real trouble out there and I kept the ball play and gave myself good chances. It’s nice to be in contention early on and hopefully I can keep it going for the next two days.”

Rookie Ivanna Samu also had a good opening day.

The Sunshine Ladies Tour campaigner carded a two over 74 to tie for 15th while GFG Academy stable-mate Mae Cornforth signed for a 79.

But it wasn’t just the younger generation who had a great time on opening day.

Sunshine Tour chief executive Selwyn Nathan dialled back the years as he joined the field to get a first-hand look at the rising talent in South Africa.

“I was 21 years old when I last played a tournament at Wingate Park; it was the Bert Haegemann Tournament and that’s about four decades ago,” said the former Tour professional. “There is a reason I don’t play medal anymore, but I had enormous fun out there with Wingate amateur Milton Maloon and David Mofokeng from Lesotho, who has been in great form lately.

“I was impressed with what I saw out there. The course is looking great and the set-up was challenging, but fair. In fact, it’s set up very well to guide the youngsters to the next level.

“I was going along nicely with two bogeys on the front nine, but then I made nine at the par four 10th and a huge six at the short hole (16).  I look forward at having another shot tomorrow. Hopefully I can keep the big numbers off my card and go a little lower in round two.

“It was great to see the IGT Challenge Tour players salute Vincent and to see the all golfers show him the honour and respect he so richly deserved.”

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