17th February 2014 | Big Easy IGT Golf

Franz has Tree in sight at IGT Series Ruimsig

(Photo: Russell Franz; credit CJ du Plooy)2014IGT_Ruimsig_RussellFranzWeb

JOHANNESBURG, 17 February 2014 – England’s Toby Tree took route 66 to take control of the opening round at the IGT Series Ruimsig and the English Golf Union Elite Squad member will carry a one stroke lead over Pretoria amateur Russell Franz into Tuesday’s second round.

The English amateur is two shots ahead of professional Herman Minnie, while professionals Dylan de Beer and Rouke van der Spuy lag three shots further in fourth.

Englishmen Neil Cheetham and Henry Featherstone shared sixth on two under 70 with American Brandon Taylor, SA pros Tyron McComb and Jonathan Waschefort and amateur Jason Diab.

It’s the second successive tournament on the IGT Pro Challenge Tour that the takes pole.

Just a week ago, Tree also held the first round lead at the IGT Series Randpark after a blemish-free 64 at the Bushwillow course. Although he stayed in touch in the second round, he was denied a victory and a slew of world ranking points by leading South African amateur Louis Taylor.

This time around, the 19-year-old Goodwood at Golf player is hoping for a podium finish.

However, Tree has been around the South African amateurs for a few summers now, long enough to know it will take a strong performance in the next 36-holes to beat the locals on home soil.

“I’ve played against these amateurs in all the big tournaments, like the SA Stroke Play and Match Play, in the last few years and I know just how determined they can be,” Tree said. “Only here you also have to factor in all the professionals competing on the IGT Tour, so it’s double the pressure.

“It’s not going to be easy over the next 36 holes, but that’s why I am playing in these events. I want to have a chance against the South Africans at the SA Match Play title next week and the IGT tournaments are helping me stay sharp, focussed and ready.”

Meanwhile Franz from Centurion played the course blind, and was very pleased with the result.

“I really can’t complain, because I had two silly bogeys after hitting my tee shots to the wrong sides of the fairway at the third and 12th holes,” the 23-year-old GFG Academy golfer explained.

“Other than that I picked up three birdies on the front nine, had a nice run of three birdies from the 13th and a last birdie at the 17th.

“I think it’s a pretty decent start, and I hope to build on this over the next two days.”

Franz completed his PGA teaching diploma at the Dale Hayes Golf School of Excellence and plans to keep his amateur status until the end of the season.

“I want to split my time between the IGT Pro Challenge Tour and the South African national amateur circuit, because I believe that’s the best of both worlds,” he said. “I really want to improve my amateur ranking and make the Gauteng North Inter-Provincial team again. At the same time, I want some game time against the professionals to prepare for the pro circuit next year.”

FIRST ROUND SCORES:

66 – Toby Tree ENG (AMA)

67 – Russel Franz (AMA)

68 – Herman Minnie

69 – Dylan de Beer, Rouke Van der Spuy

70 – Tyron Mc Comb, Brandon Taylor USA, Jason Diab (AMA), Henry Featherstone ENG, Neil Cheetham ENG, Jonathan Waschefort

71 – Calvin Caldeira (AMA), Thomas Lovett, Michael Armstrong (AMA), Beyers Smith, Ted Hendriks, John McClean

72 – Duane Keun, Coert Groenewald, Robert Herselman (AMA), Pierre Viviers, Vincent Schaffler (AMA), Sam Botham ENG, Lean Boezaart, Otto van Greunen, Clinton Grobler, Alwyn Vorster, Nikki Jonker (AMA)

73 – Ruwan Combrink, JC van Dommelen, David Riddle, Matthew Kiewitz (AMA), TJ Bekker, Jerry Steyn, Lucas Steyn, Kerwin Marais, Niel Meyer (AMA), Peter Wilson, Conway Kunneke, Ryan Clarke, MJ Viljoen, Willie Steyn

74 – Brad Diffenthal, Byron Garvie, Jaco Mouton, Hyun Park KOR, Hano van der Walt, Wayne Stroebel, Jeandre Fourie, Gian Scarola, Chris Haefele, Jaryd Wagner, Gustav Gouws (AMA), David Lamprecht (AMA), Jacques Prinsloo, Michael Dreyer, Rob Menzies ENG

75 – Rae Mackie, Eugene van Loggerenberg

76 – Ruan van Blerk, Pieter Van der Linde (AMA), Hanbo Lee KOR

77 – Rudi Armstrong (AMA), Mike Quinn, Werner Lourens (AMA)

78 – Rhoan Gardiner, Pieter Kruger, Dwayne Coetzee, Craig Dreyer

79 – Wayne du Toit

80 – Will Mathews USA, Laurence Duarte

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