10th July 2017 | Big Easy IGT Golf
Mazibuko in pursuit at Kyalami Challenge
(PHOTO: Makhetha Mazibuko; credit CJ du Plooy)
JOHANNESBURG, 10 July 2017 – Merrick Bremner claimed successive titles on the IGT Challenge Tour in the first Kyalami Challenge in April when he staved off final round challenges from Gary Player School of 2017 member Musiwalo Nethunzwi and 2017 Eye of Africa PGA Championship winner Eric van Rooyen.
On Monday, Bremner made another spectacular start with a brilliant eight-under-par 64 at Kyalami Country Club to launch his bid for a hat-trick of wins in the second Kyalami Challenge.
But the Sunshine Tour winner has another Gary Player Class of 2017 member in hot pursuit and this time, he may have to dig a lot deeper to get to the finish line first.
Recent form suggests 29-year-old Makhetha ‘Playstation’ Mazibuko could definitely give Bremner a run for his money.
A graduate of the South African Golf Development Board and Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation, Mazibuko shot to fame early this season in the Eye of Africa PGA Championship.
He tied for second following a tense three-way play-off with eventual winner Erik van Rooyen and Dylan Frittelli. Having come agonisingly close to victory after he shot 16 under par, he pocketed just over R138 150 – his biggest earning so far.
In late May, Mazibuko narrowly lost the Randpark Firethorn Challenge to rookie Estiaan Conradie in his second start this season on the country’s premier golf development circuit.
And he has brought some good momentum to Kyalami after a tie for seventh in the Killarney Challenge last week.
Mazibuko racked up seven birdies against a lone bogey at the par-four fifth – ironically the same hole where Bremner also surrendered his only shot for the round. A six-under-par 66 will see the Free State golfer start the second round within striking distance of the lead.
“My short-game is always solid, but I struggle with hitting fairways and greens in regulation, so I’ve put in a lot of time over the last eight weeks on the long game,” said Mazibuko.
“I just focussed on hitting the targets today and I hit more greens than fairways, but those I missed, were very close and that’s comforting. The work I’m doing is definitely starting to pay off. The only hole I really let myself down was the fifth.
“It’s a tough par four with trouble everywhere. There are trees on the right, hazard on the left and bunkers at 280 metres that you have to carry. You can’t miss it right or left. I wanted to hit a five-wood left to right, but the ball stayed out straight and I hit it five feet long and left.
“The putter behaved well and I was pleased to birdie three of the par fives. I didn’t birdie 18, though, because I was between clubs. There is water in front of the green and on the right and the wind was blowing. I hit four-iron off the tee and four-iron in, finished 20 feet short and couldn’t up-and-down for birdie.
“But overall I’m pleased. I am working hard for top 10 finishes on the IGT Challenge Tour and good results on the Sunshine Tour so I can ask of invitations to play the Mena Tour in September. I plan to go to the First Stage of the Asian Tour Qualifying School and I’d love to get some experience against international players in another country to help me prepare for Q-School.”
Bremner and Mazibuko will have to keep an eye on the chasing pack, led by Kenyan-born amateur Mohit Mediratta, who moved into third after carding a 67.
Sunshine Tour campaigners Jake Redman and Jason Froneman lurk at three under alongside Oklahoma City University rising star Rupert Kaminski, Pieter Moolman, Garth Wolter and Dylan Mostert, who won the season-opening Wanderers Better Ball Challenge.
Big Easy Tour winner Rhys West is a further stroke adrift in joint 10th with amateur Matthew Hands and Roberto Lupini, who scored a five shot victory in the Pecanwood Challenge in May.