10th March 2014 | Big Easy IGT Golf

Richie quick of the mark at IGT ERPM

Richie quick of the mark at IGT ERPM

Richie quick of the mark at IGT ERPM

(Photo – JC Richie; credit CJ du Plooy)

BOKSBURG, 10 March 2014 – A birdie-eagle combo before the closing hole helped Sunshine Tour rookie JC Richie from Centurion get the early jump on the pack in Monday’s opening round of the IGT Series ERPM.

The 20-year-old GFG Academy golfer fired a superb seven-under-par 65 to upstage Sunshine Tour regulars Alex Haindl, Toto Thimba and Tyrone Ferreira, who share the bus at 68 with Ruan Huysamen from Namibia, Andrew Light, Werner Van Niekerk and Gian Scarola.

Three-time IGT Tour winner and top SA amateur Zander Lombard leads the group at three under that includes England’s Mike Downes, Brett Liddle, Pieter Kruger, Thomas Lovett and Italian amateur Philip Geerts ITA.

Richie was all over the pins for most of the day, reeling in birdies at the second, sixth and eighth holes of the 7,303 meter layout to turn in three under.

He birdied the 10th and eliminated his lone bogey at 11 with another birdie at the 13th.

“That birdie-eagle combo at the 16th and 17th was the cherry on the cake on a day of great shot-making,” said Richie. “I boxed a 25-footer from the left side of the green at 16 and hit a four-iron into 17 and it pitched just five feet behind the hole.”

Richie made the winner’s circle at the IGT Winters Challenge at State Mines in August last year and came close at the same venue during the IGT Race to Q-School in September.

The Pretoria golfer finished eighth on the final 2013 IGT Tour rankings and tied for third at Q-School, earned nearly R70,000 in 35 starts on the IGT Tour last season, but has not seen a cheque since.

It’s been a hard grind since I got onto the Sunshine Tour, and this kind of round just really lifts your spirit and boosts your self-belief,” he said.”

“I knew the pre-qualifiers were going to be tough, because the pros who campaign on the IGT Tour told us all about it, but I don’t think anyone really knows how disheartening it gets when you play great golf and you’re always a stroke or two short of making the cut.

“It’s all part of the process, though and it’s something all rookies have to go through. I think the full season on the IGT Tour last year prepared me well, because I actually I enjoy the qualifiers. They bring out a different side to my game.

“The experience so far has been amazing, though, and I’m certainly not giving up.”

Richie nearly had company at the top when Scarola reeled in five gains from the first to the ninth to turn in three under and dipped to seven under with back-to-back birdies at the first and second, but his round lost momentum after three drops.

“It was nearly a special round, but it got away from me,” said Scarola, who bogeyed the third, fifth and ninth holes to finish at four under. “Still, it’s really nice to play this kind of golf and there is always tomorrow.”

FIRST ROUND SCORES

Herewith the first round scores from the IGT Series ERPM, played at the par-72 ERMP Golf Club on Monday, 10 March 2014; all competitors RSA unless otherwise specified and amateurs = (AMA)

65 – JC Ritchie

68 – Alex Haindl, Ruan Huysamen NAM, Andrew Light, Werner Van Niekerk, Toto Thimba Jnr, Tyrone Ferreira, Gian Scarola

69 – Mike Downes ENG, Brett Liddle, Pieter Kruger, Zander Lombard (AMA), Philip Geerts ITA (AMA), Thomas Lovett

70 – Jerry Steyn, Herman Minnie, Juan Langeveld, Francois Coetzee, Roberto Lupini, Hyun Park KOR, Terence Boardman, Ruan van Blerk NAM

71 – Jacques Prinsloo, Coert Groenewald, Antonio Rosado POR, Raymond Mathonsi SWZ, PH Mcintyre, Ockert Strydom, Henry Featherstone ENG, Brandon Taylor USA, Shaun Smith

72 – Jacques de Villiers, TJ Bekker, Russel Franz (AMA), Lean Boezaart, Rourke Van der Spuy, John McClean NIR, Sam Botham ENG, Johan Smit (AMA), Peter Wilson, Wayne Stroebel, Keegan Steyn (AMA)

73 – Jeandre Fourie, Johann Mostert, Wayne du Toit, Rae Mackie, Nico Du Buisson (AMA), Jaco Prinsloo, Jason Froneman (AMA)

74 – Angus Ellis-Cole (AMA), JC van Dommelen, Andi Dill (AM), Reghard Neethling (AMA), Jason Diab (AMA), Steven Ferreira, Gareth Akers (AMA), Tyron McComb, Ryno Diedericks (AMA)

75 – Neil Cheetham ENG, Frans Strydom, Ludovic Bax MUS (AMA), Shaun Norris, Ted Hendriks, Joubert Van Eeden (AMA)

76 – Julian de Wet (AMA), Chris Ha Yeung (AMA), Fritz Orren (AMA), Will Mathews USA

77 – Christiaan Pretorius, Anton Steenkamp (AMA), Johan de Beer, JP Schmidt (AMA), David Lamprecht (AMA), Niel Meyer (AMA), Dayne Moore ZAM, Conway Kunneke

78 – Ruwan Combrink, Dwayne Coetzee, Otto van Greunen

79 – Arthur Horne SWZ, Michael Jooste (AMA), Michael Scholz

80 – Rhoan Gardiner, Jacques De Villiers (AMA), Pieter Van der Linde (AMA), Bryandrew Roelofsz

81 – Craig Dreyer, Owen Grobler, Robert Herselman (AMA), Arno Pretorius (AMA), Rob Menzies ENG

83 – Shane Heckler (AMA), Justin Thomas (AMA), Hanbo Lee KOR

84 – Gerard van Zyl (AMA), Arno Bartholoma (AMA)

85 – Brett Cocking (AMA), Lourens Du Plessis (AMA), Russell Jaques ENG (AMA)

92 – Kyle Bennett

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