25th April 2017 | Big Easy IGT Golf

Pretorius in pursuit at Killarney Challenge

(PHOTO – Arno Pretorius; credit CJ du Plooy)

JOHANNESBURG, 24 April 2017 – Anton Haig will have former Sunshine Tour player Maritz Wessels and Pretoria amateur Arno Pretorius in close pursuit when he bids for a fourth IGT Challenge Tour victory on Wednesday.

The 29-year-old Nelspruit golfer clung to his overnight lead in Tuesday’s second round, but a one-over-par 72 saw Haig slip to three under 137 at Killarney Country Club. He will start the final round with a slender one shot lead over the chasing duo.

Wessels from The Copperleaf Els Club also signed for 72, but Pretorius – who lagged six off the pace at the start of the round – fired a superb three-under-par 67 in windy conditions to share the low round honours with Ivanna Samu.

Samu racked up five birdies to vault from joint 27 to ninth at one over 141. The 18-year-old former number one ranked amateur played the IGT Challenge Tour full time last year to prepare for her rookie debut on the 2017 Sunshine Ladies Tour.

Pretorius offset three bogeys with a trio of birdies at five, six and seven and a pair of birdies on the back nine.

The 25-year-old Pretoria Country Club golfer will have two fierce and seasoned campaigners for company over the last 18 holes, but he was pleased to have a shot at breaking his duck on the country’s premier golf development circuit,

“It’s always nice to be in one of the leading groups, because that’s what we all play for,” he said. “To be in this position and to learn to handle the pressure is what it’s all about.

“I don’t know much about Maritz, but I played two rounds with Anton at the final stage of the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School, so at least I got that out of the way. I will have to stay in the zone and not let what they do affect me if I want to take this to the finish line.”

Pretorius began campaigning on the IGT Challenge Tour four years ago while a student at the University of Pretoria. He graduated with a BSc Sport Science degree at the end of 2013 and took up a position at Distinctive Choice.

“It’s my mom’s brokerage company and the advantage of working for my mom is that she allows me time off to compete on the IGT Challenge Tour in pursuit a pro golf career,” Pretorius joked.

“I enjoy playing the IGT Challenge Tour because we have an event almost every week if the year and all the events are local, which cuts down on costs. It’s a competitive circuit and the standard is high.

“I especially like it when the Sunshine Tour players compete on our circuit. Competing against them puts your game in perspective and it helps you to build experience.”

Pretorius said he was surprised to see he was only a shot behind Haig at the end of day two.

“The scores were higher but I expected to be three or four shots behind,” he said. “The set-up was tougher and the wind pumped, but I guess I played pretty well.

“The run of birdies from the fifth definitely helped. I caught the bunker at five, but I hit a great trap shot with a lot of spin to three feet and holed the birdie putt. At six and seven I boxed 10-foot uphill that kept me touch with Anton. Hopefully the putter stays hot on Wednesday.”

Wessels overcame three bogeys in succession after the turn with three birdies in his last four holes.

“I hit three bad tee-shots, but I was able to reboot,” he said. “The birdies at 15, 17 and 18 got me a spot in the final group. Now I just need to make the most of this opportunity.”

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