17th January 2017 | Big Easy IGT Golf

Confident Conradie in pursuit at Randpark

RandparkDay1 (41)(PHOTO – Ruan Conradie; credit CJ du Plooy)

JOHANNESBURG, 17 January 2017 – Two-time IGT Challenge Tour winner Ruan Conradie may have swapped the amateur circuit for the paid ranks over the New Year, but the switch didn’t harm his confidence one bit.

Thanks chiefly to a string of four birdies around the turn, the 21-year-old from Wingate Park registered a four-under-par 68 to move within striking distance of second-round leader Jaco Prinsloo in the Race to Q-School #12 at Randpark Golf Club on Tuesday.

For a second day running the Sunshine Tour campaigner, who captured is sixth title on the country’s premier development golf circuit in the final event of 2016, showed his class at the Bushwillow Course.

Prinsloo fired a six-under-par 66 to move to 11 under and he leads by three shots from Conradie and by six from third-placed Jonathan Waschefort.

Italian amateur Philip Geerts is sandwiched at four under between professionals Quintin Crause, Bryce McCabe, NJ Arnoldi and Heinrich Bruiners, while two-time Challenge Tour winner Jake Roos took a seat on the bus at three under alongside Paul de Beer and Italian Jacopo Vecchi Fossa.

Conradie and his brother Estiaan caused quite a stir on the country’s premier golf development circuit last year when 19-year-old Estiaan scored a hat-trick of wins and Ruan added his second with a wire-to-wire performance in the Race to Q-School #5 at Ebotse Links in November.

The older Conradie still has a score to settle, though.

“Estiaan has been lording his hat-trick over my head for months now, so I would really like to get that third victory to shut him up,” he said. “It would be great to get it done this week, because he is pretty far back, so no danger of a surprise attack.”

Both brothers decided to play the last six events in the Race to Q-School series this season as professionals to gain some experience at playing for money.

“It’s the final stretch, so we decided that the added pressure will be good for us to prepare for the Sunshine Tour Q-School in March,” Conradie said.

“I don’t think too much has changed for me. I’m taking the same approach as last year to the game, but I had to remind myself that patience is next to godliness when the putts stopped dropping on the back nine.”

Conradie followed a birdie at 14 with a bogey at 15, but rebounded with a 15-foot birdie putt at the par four 16th that set off a four birdie flurry around the turn.

“I hit a poor drive at 17, but punch out well and got a wedge close to the pin,” he said. “I sunk the five-footer for birdie and holed another 15 footer for birdie at 18 to turn three under.

“I hit my tee shot right again at the first, but punched out and got another wedge close; this time I had a six-footer for birdie. Then the well ran dry and I missed eight chances coming home. They were all close, burning the edges of the hole.

“I’m putting really well, so I know I need to stay patient, because they will start to drop. Whether I can catch Jaco remains to be seen. He is so experienced and a regular IGT Challenge Tour winner. Plus he is hitting the ball and putting incredibly well at the moment. It will take a really low round to make a dent in his lead, but I’m going to try and chase him down.”

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