22nd July 2014 | Big Easy IGT Golf

Arnoldi hunts glory in Race to Asia Waterkloof

Waterkloof21-23JulDay1 (77)(Photo – NJ Arnoldi; credit CJ du Plooy)

TSHWANE, 22 July 2014 – Pieter Kruger held on to his share of the overnight lead at Waterkloof Golf Club, but the Pretoria pro has new company at the top after one of the country’s top ranked amateurs joined him in pole position in the IGT Tour’s first Race to Asian Q-School on Tuesday.

Nigel’s NJ Arnoldi reeled in four birdies and an eagle for a four-under-par 68 to move to eight under 136 at the 36-hole mark.

Kruger countered two bogeys with five birdies for 69 to join the amateur at the top.

The leading have a three shot cushion on Ted Hendriks, who matched the low round of the day with a 67 to share third with amateur Jason Roets, who carded a 69.

Joint first round leader Brendan de Lange’s 73 left him sharing the bus at five under with Coert Groenewald and amateurs James du Preez and Angus Ellis-Cole.

The trio carded rounds of 69, 70 and 71 respectively.

Arnoldi won the IGT Winter Challenge at Zwartkops last year, but the 22-year-old is playing for much higher stakes this time around.

“Each of the winners in Race to Asian Q-School will receive a R40,000 plus sponsorship that will cover return flights, hotel and transport costs and the entry fee to compete in the  Asian Tour’s Qualifying School next year,” he said.

“That is a massive incentive for someone like me. I want to turn pro at the end of the season, and it would be fantastic to know I’ll have the chance to play the Asian Q-School.”

Arnoldi enjoyed the opening stretch at Waterkloof, but left the course a little frustrated.

“I had the bogey and eagle on the back nine and that was it,” he said. “I made great putts but left four inside six feet for birdie out there.

“I’ve been working very hard on my fitness with Grant Milne from Want to be a Champion and I think all the exercise just took its toll. I’ve been running six kilometers twice a day and I got really tired down the back stretch.”

This week marks Arnoldi’s first start on the country’s premier development Tour this season.

“We’ve had a really busy amateur season and I’m just back from a three-month stint in Europe,” he said. “The international experience has really helped me to kick my game up a gear.

“The South African Golf Association sent six of us to the UK. We played a Test against the Scots and competed in some of the top amateur championships. Thriston (Lawrence), Christiaan (Bezuidenhout) and myself went over earlier, though.

We played in a bunch of tournaments in the United Kingdom before the Tour. It was the first time I really competed internationally and I got huge benefits from the experience.”

Arnoldi didn’t share in the early success of his travel partners, but placed in the top 10 on the Jamega Tour and won the Open Championship Regional Qualifier at Clitheroe later on.

However, a rib injury incurred during the Test against Scotland seriously hampered his game at the St Andrews Links Trophy and the British Amateur.

“It took me a while to settle down in the UK, because the conditions are very different to what we are used to here at home. It’s true what they say, you really do use all 14 clubs when you play there.

“The one thing that has definitely improved in my game due to the UK Tour is my course management. I plan my shots better and analysing the holes from green to tee before I decide what to hit. It’s really paying off for me.

“At this course, I’m only hitting driver on only six holes. I like to leave myself at least 100 meters into the green, because the greens are so firm. I’m hitting my woods and irons really well, too.

“I’m taking it easy tonight so I have the energy to really challenge Pieter for victory on Wednesday.”

SECOND ROUND SCORES

136 – NJ Arnoldi (AMA) 68 68, Pieter Kruger 67 69

139 – Jason Roets (AMA) 70 69, Ted Hendriks 72 67

140 – Angus Ellis-Cole (AMA) 69 71, Brendan de Lange 67 73, Coert Groenewald 71 69, James du Preez (AMA) 70 70

141 – Leon Scheepers (AMA) 71 70

142 – Antonio Rosado POR 73 69

143 – Bryn Flanagan (AMA) 70 73, Rae Mackie 73 70

144 – Niel Meyer (AMA) 77 67, Herman Minnie 72 72

145 – Duane Keun 74 71, Calvin Caldeira (AMA) 74 71, Jerry Steyn 72 73, Jason Froneman (AMA) 73 72

146 – Keegan De Lange (AMA) 72 74, Terence Boardman 70 76, Ruan Huysamen NAM 71 75

147 – Dwayne Coetzee 72 75, Stephan Erasmus (AMA) 71 76, Reghard Neethling (AMA) 76 71, Keegan Steyn (AMA) 73 74, Willie Steyn 74 73, Conway Kunneke 76 71, TJ Bekker 76 71

148 – Tyron Mc Comb 70 78, Werner Van Niekerk 73 75, Jacques de Villiers 76 72

150 – James Searson 75 75, David Lamprecht 75 75

151 – JC van Dommelen 72 79, Tjaart Van Wyk (AMA) 72 79, Russel Franz 77 74

152 – Bryce Burke USA (AMA) 76 76

153 – Robert Herselman FRA 74 79, Christiaan Pretorius 81 72, Rosswell Sinclair (AMA) 73 80

Missed the cut:-

154 – Jacques De Villiers (AMA) 78 76, Marco De Beer (AMA) 79 75

155 – Kirsten Campbell (AMA) 80 75

157 – Eduard Van Den Berg (AMA) 81 76, Justin Godfrey (AMA) 82 75

158 – Pieter Van der Linde (AMA) 83 75, Patrick Thompson 78 80

159 – Shaun van Tonder 84 75, Wayne Stroebel 81 78

161 – Ruan van Blerk NAM 80 81

162 – Wesley Baptiste (AMA) 74 88, Mark Fraser 80 82

163 – CJ Levey (AMA) 81 82

164 – Gerard van Zyl (AMA) 86 78

165 – Julian de Wet (AMA) 83 82

167 – Quintin Crause (AMA) 86 81

180 – Marna De Langen 95 85

Latest Big Easy IGT Golf News