3rd May 2016 | Big Easy IGT Golf

Nel hits the front at CMR Challenge

ERPMDay1 (65)(PHOTO – Eric Nel; credit CJ du Plooy)

ROODEPOORT, 3 May 2016 – Pretoria junior Eric Nel overcame a shaky start to fire a five-under-par 67 for the first round lead in the IGT Tour’s CMR Challenge at CMR Golf Club in Roodepoort on Monday.

The 18-year-old Centurion amateur will start the second round with a two shot cushion on former Sunshine Tour professional Johary Raveloarison and Damian Naicker, who recently returned from a two-year stint competing on pro Tours in the United Kingdom.

Mathew Spacey, Gerard du Plooy and amateur Stephan Erasmus lag three off the pace and 2015 IGT Tour winner David Ashley from England grabbed a seat in the six man-bus tied for seventh on one under 71.

Nel mixed bogeys at one and three with a pair of birdies at the second and fourth but found his stride after knocking in another birdie putt at the fifth. He birdied the short eighth to turn two under and offset a lone bogey on the back nine with a brace of birdies at 10 and 11 and a second pair at 15 and 16.

“It definitely wasn’t a pretty start, but I battled with the windy conditions and it took a few holes to settle down,” Nel said

“The set-up was tough, with all the tees off the back tips and more than a few pins tucked into some challenging spots. The swirling wind made it tough to judge the approach shots on some holes. It definitely could have been better. I made couple of great par-saves, but I left a few out there.”

Nel hit a great tee shot at the first down the middle of the fairway, but he got into some water trouble.

“I didn’t let that opening bogey set the tone for my round,” said the GFG Academy player.

“I hit a great approach to eight feet at the second and holed to putt for birdie. It was important not to let the early bogeys dictate the round, so I just stuck to my game plan for the course and I managed to get back into red numbers by the fifth hole.

“At the eighth, I holed a 15-footer for birdie and I hit it within three feet at 10 and 11. I had lip-outs for birdies at 12 and 13, but I three-stabbed 14 for another bogey. I was really pleased to make two more birdies coming home.”

Nel will be heading to the United States later this year to take up a golf scholarship.

“Ross Sinclair and I are going over, but we haven’t made up our minds yet where we are going,” he said. “I’ve had offers from Louisiana Munroe and Texas University. We both really want to go to Texas, but it will depend on what happens with our applications. We want to go together because it’s good to have some support over there.

“In the meantime, I’m sharpening my game on the IGT Tour and I’m really enjoying this environment. I started playing the IGT Tour at the start of the season and this is the first time I’m leading. I thought I would be really nervous, but it’s quite the opposite. I feel quite calm and I think that’s one of the things I’ve taken away from competing against the pros in the last four months.”

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