7th January 2015 | Big Easy IGT Golf

KZN’s Van der Merwe shares lead at Wanderers

Wandrs7-9JanDay1 (155)(PHOTO – Chris van der Merwe; credit CJ du Plooy)

JOHANNESBURG, 7 January 2015 – Chris van der Merwe blazed his way to a well-timed share of the first round lead in the IGT Tour’s Q-School Prep at Wanderers Golf Club on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old Prince’s Grant amateur reeled in five birdies to offset a lone bogey for an opening four-under-par 67 to tie for pole position with IGT Tour winners Ockie Strydom and Toby Tree from England, as well as fellow KZN amateur Kevin Rundle, Duane Keun and Shaun Stapleton.

Van der Merwe is heading for the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School in Bloemfontein in a fortnight and was pleased to start his final preparation in a challenging position.

“I played a lot of golf at Prince’s Grant over the festive break to keep the rust off and it’s really rewarding to be in a good position so early in the season,” he said.

“I hit a lot of really good shots and my short game was really on song. Hopefully I can keep it going, because it feeds the confidence and you need that for Q-School.”

The B.Com Entrepreneur student got off to a fast start with back-to-back birdies at the 10th and 11th and notched two more birdies at the 16th and 18th to turn four under.

“I hit a wedge really close at the first and drained a 25-footer at the second for birdie and that gave me some nice momentum,” he said.

“I nearly eagled the 16th, but made sure of the four-foot birdie putt and hit it close again with a wedge at the 17th, but I failed to convert for birdie. Used the same wedge at the 18th, but this time I holed the six-footer for birdie.”

He picked up another gain at the par-four third, but gave one back at the par-three sixth when he short-sided himself off the tee.

“The pin was back right and I missed the green right, so I had no shot,” Van der Merwe explained. “It was a bad decision on my part, but I managed to grind out three pars to finish. I’m really happy to be in a position to challenge so early on, though.”

Former top English amateur Tree, who won the IGT Series at Ruimsig in February last year, had two blemishes on his card, while multiple IGT Tour winner Strydom birdied five holes over the back nine.

Stapleton and Keun both went around the former PGA Championship layout without any bogeys, while Rundle also surrendered two shots for his 67.

FIRST ROUND SCORES

67 – Toby Tree, Shaun Stapleton (AMA), Duane Keun, Kevin Rundle (AMA), Christiaan Van Der Merwe (AMA), Ockert Strydom

68 – Tyrone Ryan, Tyron Mc Comb, Hanbo Lee, Werner Van Niekerk

69 – Adrian Ford, Jaco Prinsloo, Joubert Van Eeden (AMA)

70 – Calvin Caldeira, Martin Dewhurst, Matthew Kent

71 – Arno Bartholoma, Dylan Docherty (AMA), Rourke Van der Spuy, Jaco Mouton, Pierre Du Preez (AMA), Justin Turner, Jason Diab (AMA), Ryan Clarke

72 – Haydn Porteous, Andrew Carlsson (AMA), Terence Boardman, Shaun van Tonder, Brett Liddle, Christof Appel, Stuart Smith, Johan de Beer

73 – Dougie Meijer, Pieter Kruger, Lean Boezaart, Louis Taylor (AMA), Johann Germishuys (AMA)

74 – Neal Herman (AMA), NJ Arnoldi (AMA), James McCormick, Andre De Decker (AMA), Herman Minnie, Mike Downes, Martin Rohwer (AMA)

75 – Ruan Huysamen, Dawie Labuschagne (AMA), Otto van Greunen, Greg Bentley

76 – Brendan Britten (AMA), Marco Scarola

77 – Drew Denyer (AMA), Rikus Oosthuizen AM), Joshua Leo (AMA)

78 – Rae Mackie, Siphiwe Siphayi (AMA), Zak Van Zyl, Bryce Myburgh, Jason Froneman (AMA), Christiaan Pretorius, Yngve Nilsson

79 – Jonathan Raphunga, Fanie Wolmarans (AMA)

80 – Struan Currie (AMA), Sergio Dias, Keegan Steyn (AMA)

81 – Dwayne Coetzee, Henry Featherstone, Alwyn Vorster, Morne Wolmarans (AMA)

82 – Mike Slabber

83 – Coert Cronje (AMA), Brandon Lydon (AMA), Lourens Du Plessis

84 – Elisha Markus, Louwtjie J van Vuuren (AMA)

85 – Eduard Van Den Berg (AMA)

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