15th August 2017 | Big Easy IGT Golf
Eagles land Lupini the lead in Woodhill Challenge
(PHOTO: Roberto Lupini; credit CJ du Plooy)
TSHWANE, 15 August 2017 – Eagle–eagle finish to lead. That’s the stuff dreams are made of and Roberto Lupini lived that dream when he soared to the top of the pile in the Woodhill Challenge with a magical finish on Tuesday.
“That’s the stuff dreams are made of,” said the smiling Lupini, lined up a second IGT Challenge Tour victory this season with a career-best 63 to lead by one from Dylan O’Leary on 14 under 130.
“I was five under with three to play and I figured I might pick up another birdie at the par five to be in the mix for the final round. I hit a great three-wood off the tee at 17 and I had about 170 metres left to the pin. I took nine-iron and the ball landed three feet from the hole.
“I knocked that in for eagle and took three-wood again at the 18th. I was only 30 metres short of the green. I watched the ball pitch the green and disappear down the hole. I’ve never in my career had back-to-back eagles. I’ve never shot nine under par. This day was really the stuff of dreams.”
Lupini’s 63 matched that of O’Leary, who set the early target at 13 under with a flawless exhibition that featured a run of successive birdies from 14 to 17.
“The wind definitely played a role on the back nine,” Lupini said. “The course was set up the same on both loops, but we were playing with the wind on seven on the nine holes down the home stretch. That definitely helped a lot of guys score well.”
Lupini leads by two from first round leader Ruan Korb, who carded a 66, and he is seven shots clear of amateur Armand van Dyk, who also signed for a 66. Kyle Barker moved to fifth on six under with a 70 and finished two shots ahead of a group of six players, including four-time IGT Challenge Tour winner Estiaan Conradie, who share seventh.
Lupini showed a great return to form in May when he blasted to five shot victory in the Pecanwood Challenge.
“I had shoulder surgery in September last year and I started practicing in February for my return to the IGT Challenge Tour, but I never imagined that I would go wire-to-wire in my first start back,” said the Country Club Johannesburg golfer.
“After Pecanwood I hit a bit of a rough spot, so I took a step back, worked on a few things and the game finally feels like is heading where it used to be when I played on the Sunshine Tour. There is still room for improvement, though.
“Blasting from the blocks with three birdies in a row today really did a lot for my confidence, but I made a silly bogey at the seventh when I pulled my tee shot way left. Overall, the game feels so much more solid. It’s going to be really great to go into the final round in contention again. Dylan had a great round, going bogey-free around this layout, so we should have a great final round contest.”