4th April 2018 | IGT Golf

Ritchie riding high at IGT Killarney

Ritchie riding high at IGT Killarney

(PHOTO – JC Ritchie; credit CJ du Plooy)

JOHANNESBURG, 4 April 2018 – With his title defence in the Zimbabwe Open just a couple of weeks away, it was not surprising to see Sunshine Tour winner JC Ritchie tee it up this week in the IGT Challenge Tour season-opener at Killarney Country Club. And if you expected to see his name near the top of the leaderboard, the big-hitting Mpumalanga golfer didn’t disappoint.

Ritchie’s opening 66 featured a bogey at six and a double bogey at 13, but his second score card on Wednesday sported nothing but red numbers.

The 24-year-old Standerton native fired birdies at one, eight and 11 and a birdie-birdie finish for a five-under-par 65 shot him straight to the top of the pile on nine-under 131.

“If the guys think I don’t care about winning this week, they’d be wrong,” said Richie, who will be gunning for his third IGT Challenge Tour title. “It doesn’t matter what Tour you are playing. You always play to win.”

Ritchie’s roots runs deep on the country’s premier golf development circuit.

“This was where I cut my pro teeth,” said the Els Club Copperleaf golfer. “When I didn’t make the cut at the 2013 Sunshine Tour’s Q-School I only had one option. I played the IGT Challenge Tour for a year, and the next year I finished third at Q-School.

“I was really well prepared for the leap to the Sunshine Tour and I’ve never looked back. I come back all the time, either to work on my game in the off-season or to get the competitive juices flowing after a break. It’s a very competitive circuit and it still feels like home.”

In his fourth Sunshine Tour season, Ritchie scored his maiden victory in the Zimbabwe Open. A year later he ended it with a career-best third place finish on the final Order of Merit.

“In between it wasn’t pretty,” he said. “I was on such a high after Zimbabwe, but then I went through a really tough patch. I had to have my tonsils out and there was complications. I played poorly and I missed eight cuts.”

Ritchie worked extremely hard throughout the festive season and gave the putter an extreme workout. The flat stick repaid him with third place finishes in the BMW SA and Cape Town Opens and a top 10 finish in the season-ending Tour Championship.

“Although I had a two-year exemption that took the pressure off, it was a year-long grind,” said Ritchie. “What I’ve taken away from the last 12 months is that it’s okay to have a tough time. So now when I see guys here this week who missed out at Q-School this year, I hope I inspire them to keep on grinding. You love the game so much, but it can also hurt you badly. It’s a career full of highs and lows. You have to learn to take the good with the bad and always remember that in life and golf, you are either winning or learning. The only losses are the ones you choose to have.”

Kyle Barker from Randpark carded 66 to finish three shots adrift, while Gary Daoust from Belgium finished in third on six-under after a round of 71. Joint first round leader Makhetha Mazibuko posted 72 to tie for fourth on three under with Juran Dreyer.

Second Round Scores

All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified; amateurs indicated as AMA

131 – JC Ritchie 66 65

134 – Kyle Barker 68 66

136 – Gary Daoust (BEL) 65 71

137 – Juran Dreyer 68 69, Makhetha Mazibuko 65 72

138 – Keelan van Wyk AMA 70 68

139 – Arno Pretorius 71 68, Ruan Korb 68 71, Estiaan Conradie 70 69

140 – Angus Ellis-Cole AMA 70 70, Altaaf Bux 69 71

142 – Duane Keun 70 72, Michael Kok AMA 68 74, Michael-James Steyn 71 71

143 – Eric Nel 71 72, Michiel Bothma 72 71, Jaco Prinsloo 69 74, Ruan Conradie 70 73

144 – Jacquin Hess 69 75, Musiwalo Nethunzwi 72 72

145 – Bennie van der Merwe 69 76, Ruan Groenewald AMA 68 77

146 – Sipho Bujela 75 71

147 – Gianni Pera AMA 71 76, Shalan Govender 70 77, Hendrikus Stoop 73 74

148 – Henning du Plooy AMA 72 76

149 – Quintin Crause 71 78

150 – Romano Saincic 76 74, Dylan Mostert AMA 75 75, Leon Vorster 73 77

151 – Armand van Dyk AMA 70 81, Divan de Villiers AMA 77 74, Jancarel Rossouw AMA 78 73

152 – Ricardo Towell 77 75, Sean Rice AMA 77 75

153 – Matthew Rossouw AMA 72 81, Ricki Dembo 80 73, Rudolph van de Venter AMA 76 77, Basil Wright 73 80, Duan Nagel AMA 77 76

154 – Gary Jutzen AMA 76 78, Louis Botha 77 77

155 – Neville Mitchell AMA 76 79, Liam Clinton AMA 80 75

156 – Keanu Pestana AMA 76 80, Tyron Taylor AMA 79 77

157 – Jonathan Kotzen AMA 78 79, Mpho Mafishe 81 76

Missed the cut:-

158 – Johan van der Wath 81 77

159 – Adam Breen AMA 75 84, Shaun Bernstein AMA 84 75

160 – Handre Truter AMA 75 85, Adam Baker 79 81, Zethu Myeki AMA 78 82, Dean du Plessis AMA 87 73

161 – Gavin Mawson AMA 83 78

162 – Alwyn Smith 80 82, Jaco van der Merwe AMA 82 80

163 – WM Coetzee AMA 81 82, Heino Havenga 79 84

166 – Nicklas van wyk AMA 83 83, Christopher de Beer 81 85

167 – Trevor Barnes (CAN) 84 83

170 – Adrian Brabson AMA 87 83

172 – Christiaan Pretorius 87 85

N/R – Divan Marais 84 N/R

RTD – Tristan Brice AMA RTD

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the IGT Challenge Tour.

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