16th August 2017 | Big Easy IGT Golf

Lupini grinds out Woodhill Challenge win

(PHOTO – Roberto Lupini; credit CJ du Plooy)

TSHWANE, 16 August 2017 – Overnight leader Roberto Lupini prevailed in windy conditions to claim his second IGT Challenge Tour title with a three shot victory in the Woodhill Challenge on Wednesday.

The former Sunshine Tour campaigner fired two stunning eagles over the closing holes Woodhill Country Club for a second round 63 to soar to a one stroke lead over Dylan O’Leary. A 75 in the final round proved good enough to secure victory on 11 under 205.

“You shoot 63 to lead and 75 to win; that is one for the books,” said the delighted 34-year-old from Country Club Johannesburg.

“We had some wind over the first two rounds, but it was nothing like the three-club wind that greeted us this morning. Actually, it was still just breezy over the first couple of holes, but from the sixth, the wind really started to gather speed.

“It made it really tough to hit the right spots on the greens and you couldn’t fire at the flags as you could over the first two days. I had a topsy turvy front nine with birdies at three and five and bogeys at four, six and eight to turn one over. No-one was making a charge, though, so I knew if I stayed patient and tried to keep it in play I’d have a chance to win.”

Lupini birdied 10 but suffered a costly blow at 13 when he double bogeyed the par four from the middle of the fairway.

“I hit a great three-wood up the middle on 10 and a sand-wedge from 106 metres for a six-foot birdie putt,” he said. “Made two solid pars at 11 and 12 and hit another good three-wood down the 13th fairway. I had 120 metres to the pin and opted for a low punch nine-iron, but I hooked it in the bunker. I got the trap shot on the green, but three-putted from nowhere. Luckily the guys in the chasing pack were also having their share of bogeys, and I was still three shots clear heading home.”

Another bogey at 16 prompted Lupini to take a cautious approach over the last two holes.

“I misjudged the wind at the short hole,” he said. “It was much stronger than I imagined and I hit a soft gap-wedge that flew the green. I had a 10 metre chip left to the green, but I wasn’t able to up-and-down to save par.

“Going down the last two holes, I didn’t want to try anything fancy and I just played it safe. Five at the long hole and a long iron off the box at 18. I’m really pleased with this win. It’s almost more special than the first one at Pecanwood in May. This one really confirms for me that the form is back.”

Lupini will be taking a break to spend the week at Leopard Creek before he tees it up in the Ruimsig Challenge.

“I’ll go and support the South African team in the Fellowship Cup against India and I’m just going to enjoy a couple of social rounds at Leopard Creek,” he said. “There is always something that needs a bit of tinkering, though, so it won’t all be fun and games.”

Meanwhile amateur Armand van Dyk, seven off the pace at the start of the round, closed with a 71 to eclipse the chasing pack for second at eight under.

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