12th January 2015 | Big Easy IGT Golf

Minnie motors into IGT Q-School Prep lead

Cent12-14JanDay1 (133)(PHOTO – Herman Minnie; credit CJ du Plooy)

PRETORIA, 12 January 2015 – The final IGT Q-School Prep event saw a fantastically high standard of golf as no less than 43 players went under par during the first round at Centurion Country Club.

Local amateur Herman Minnie and Sunshine Tour regular Ockie Strydom lead the way on eight under par, with three players tied for third on six under and another four in the bus at five under par.

With former top amateurs Brandon Stone and Shaun Smit among 10 players just a five off the pace, the final event before the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School is shaping up to an exciting finish on Wednesday.

Minnie and Strydom proved the most inspired men in the field during round one.

Strydom, a three-time IGT Tour winner last season, reeled in four birdies from the 10th, but a bogey at the 17th saw him turn in three under. He rallied with four birdies on the trot to hit the front and finished birdie-par-birdie for his 64.

Minnie offset a double bogey at the second and bogeys at the third and 17th with two eagles and eight birdies to throw his hat into the ring.

“This was probably one of the best rounds I’ve played in a long time,” the GFG Academy player said.

“It’s really great to put together a round like that before Qualifying School. We are playing right off the back tips, but the greens are rolling incredibly true and there isn’t much rough, so the birdies are out there for the taking.

“We have a really strong field this week with guys like Ockie, Brandon, Shaun, Toby Tree from England and Haydn Porteous, who won the Sunshine Tour’s Rookie of the Year on Sunday. It’s great to go up against these guys before Qualifying School and to get yourself into good mental and physical shape for Q-School.”

After his campaign was derailed by a stomach bug last year, Minnie hopes his fourth trip to Qualifying School will be the one to get him into the pro ranks.

“The first two times were a complete waste of money, because I was nowhere near ready to compete in the pro ranks, but you know us amateurs are always in a hurry to earn money,” he said.

“Last year I was definitely ready. My game was good and I was stronger mentally, but I battled a stomach bug all week. It was providence, though, because I have matured a lot as a golfer in the last 12 months.

“I feel as prepared as I’m ever going to be and a solid result this week is really important to take some confidence to Bloemfontein.”

Centurion’s Hendrickus Stoop put the disappointment of missing the South African Open cut by two behind him and notched six birdies at his home course to tie for sixth on five under, two ahead of Stone and Smith.

Porteous, who beat IGT Tour winner Rhys West for the Rookie of the Year title, opened with an even-par 72.

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