23rd July 2014 | Big Easy IGT Golf

Kruger claims first Race to Asia at Waterkloof

(Photo – Pieter Kruger; credit CJ du Plooy)

TSHWANE, 23 July 2014 – Pretoria’s Pieter Kruger rattled home an eagle putt at the 18th to put the seal on a wire-to-wire victor2014R2AQS_PieterKruger_cropy in the IGT Tour’s first Race to Asian Q-School at Waterkloof Golf Club on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old GFG Academy golfer fired a three-under-par 69 to close out a three shot victory over Coert Groenewald on 11-under-par 133.

Kruger was thrilled to win the first spot to the 2015 Asian Tour Qualifying School in the eight-event Race to Asian Q-School series.

“I am so happy with this win,” said Kruger. “I hope to make the top five on the Big Easy Tour this year, but this win guarantees my spot for Asia and it is so great to know that I have options, now.”

Kruger has been knocking for a while and was relieved to finally get the job done.

“It was a big day for me, because there was a lot to play for,” he said. “There was a lot of pressure out there, because a lot of guys are gunning for the stint in Asia. But I must be getting used to the pressure, because I actually enjoyed having them chase me down the stretch.”

He shared the overnight lead on eight under with leading amateur, NJ Arnoldi, and the pair held a three stroke advantage going into the final round.

After mixing a birdie with two bogeys, Kruger knocked in a 20-footer at the par-five seventh and drained a three-footer for birdie at the ninth to pull three shots clear of the Nigel golfer.

He almost cancelled bogeys at the 11th and 13th with another eagle at the par-five 14th, but the 15-foot putt lipped out.

“I tapped in for birdie, but I got another chance at the last par-five,” he said. “I split the fairway at the 18th and had 164 meters to the pin.

“It was an uphill shot into the green, so I took eight-iron and parked the ball half-a-meter from the pin. I wasn’t going to miss another chance and made sure that putt hit the middle of hole.”

Groenewald’s eagle at the 18th for a 68 secured sole second eight under and he finished one shot ahead of Ted Hendrikse and amateur Jason Roets, who both carded 70s.

De Lange closed with a 70 to tie for fifth on six under with amateur Bryn Flanagan, who fired a closing 67 to share the lowest round honour with two-time Race to USA champion, Russell Franz.

Kruger, who racked up 10 birdies in the first round, was not surprised that no-one went really low.

“Weather-wise, it was a great scoring day, but the pins were very, very tricky,” he said.

Birdies were hard to come by. You really plan your lines and hit it to the right spot on the greens.”

Meanwhile Arnoldi turned in seven under, but fell from contention after he suffered a wrist injury on the back nine.

The 22-year-old connected with some concrete at the top of the bunker while trying to play out of the trap at the 13th and injured his right wrist. “I made a double there and dropped two more shots coming home,” said Arnoldi, who signed for a costly 78 that saw him tie for ninth on two under.

“I will have it looked at, but hopefully it’s just a light sprain and doesn’t take me out of the Race to Asian Q-School completely.”

FINAL RESULT

205 – Pieter Kruger 67 69 69

208 – Coert Groenewald 71 69 68

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

210 – Bryn Flanagan (AMA) 70 73 67, Brendan De Lange 67 73 70

211 – James Du Preez (AMA) 70 70 71

212 – Antonio Rosado POR 73 69 70

214 – Angus Ellis-Cole (AMA) 69 71 74, NJ Arnoldi (AMA) 68 68 78

217 – Reghard Neethling (AMA) 76 71 70, Willie Steyn 74 73 70, Conway Kunneke 76 71 70, Rae Mackie 73 70 74, Leon Scheepers (AMA) 71 70 76

218 – Keegan de Lange (AMA) 72 74 72, Herman Minnie 72 72 74, Russel Franz 77 74 67

220 – Calvin Caldeira (AMA) 74 71 75, Stephan Erasmus (AMA) 71 76 73, Niel Meyer (AMA) 77 67 76

221 – Ruan Huysamen NAM 71 75 75, TJ Bekker 76 71 74, Jacques de Villiers 76 72 73

222 – Terence Boardman 70 76 76, Duane Keun 74 71 77

223 – Jerry Steyn 72 73 78, Tyron McComb 70 78 75, Werner van Niekerk 73 75 75, JC van Dommelen 72 79 72

225 – Dwayne Coetzee 72 75 78, Jason Froneman (AMA) 73 72 80, David Lamprecht 75 75 75

226 – Keegan Steyn (AMA) 73 74 79

228 – James Searson 75 75 78, Bryce Burke USA (AMA) 76 76 76, Rosswell Sinclair (AMA) 73 80 75

232 – Robert Herselman FRA 74 79 79, Christiaan Pretorius 81 72 79

233 – Tjaart Van Wyk (AMA) 72 79 82

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