21st June 2016 | Big Easy IGT Golf

Barker blooms at Wingate Challenge

Wingate20-22JuneDay2 (240)(PHOTO – Kyle Barker; credit CJ du Plooy)

TSHWANE, 21 June 2016 – The IGT Tour’s Wingate Challenge is set for an enthralling final day after young amateur Kyle Barker charged into contention with a flawless display at Wingate Park Country Club on Tuesday.

The 18-year-old Randpark golfer blamed his caddie Francois Olivier after making an almighty push up the leaderboard with a seven-under-par 65 to join former IGT Tour winners Juan Swart and Rhys West in a three-way tie at six-under-par 138.

“It’s Franna’s fault that I am in the pressure cooker now,” the Central Gauteng player teased.

“On a serious note, though, I’m really thankful to Jacques Blaauw for letting me have Franna this week. It’s not only nice to have a great friend with me on the course, but his experience was great when I put myself under pressure.

“I hit the ball well and the putter was hot, but I had a couple of scary holes and he guided me through those holes. I began playing the IGT Tour more regularly this year to step out of that comfort zone on the amateur circuit and get used to this environment. It’s a big gap and having Franna in support just gives me an added sense of confidence.”

Barker reached the turn in three under and added gains at 10, 13 and 15 before signing off with a birdie at the final hole.

“I left a birdie putt in the throat at the first hole, so I was pleased to nail the birdie at two and get off to a solid start,” he said. “I sunk a 12-footer for birdie at four, made a great up-and-down for par at six and two-putted from 15 feet for birdie at seven.

“I left another birdie chance on the edge of the cup at the ninth, but I made up for it at 10. I smacked driver down the middle of the fairway, hit the approach to 12 feet and holed the birdie putt. I duff-hooked the tee shot into the trees at 11 and had to hook a wedge from 165 metres around the trees. I hit it to 15 feet, but also left that putt in the throat.:

Barker hit his second pin-high right at the par five 13th and two-putted for birdie number five.

“I found the right bunker at 14, but made the up-and-down to save par and hit a perfect drive down 15 to set up another two-putt birdie,” he said.

“I nearly holed out with a gap-wedge after I left it short at the 16th. The 17th was another hairy hole. I flew the green with my second, fluffed the first chip and holed the next chip to save par. Hit a great six-iron into the green at 18, though, and two-putted for birdie.

“Like I said, a few scary holes coming in as the pressure mounted, but I handled it well with Franna’s support. I’m excited to play in the final group tomorrow. Juan is a former IGT Tour winner and Rhys also won a couple of IGT Tour events before he got his card for the Sunshine Tour in 2013. It’s all a learning curve for me at the moment, so it’s going to be a great experience for me to play with them.”

Swart from Port Elizabeth posted an equally impressive bogey-free 66 and West from Glendower stayed in the mix with a successive 69s.

Jonathan Waschefort moved into sole fourth with a 68, while Ockie Strydom – targeting back-to-back victories after success in the Killarney Challenge two weeks ago – finished just two off the pace after signing for a 69.

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