18th March 2015 | Big Easy IGT Golf

Ryan prevails with play-off win in GFG Academy Classic

Irene16-18MarrDay3 (156)Photo – Tyrone Ryan, Graeme Francis (GFG Academy) and Cois du Plooy (IGT Tour)

TSHWANE, 18 March 2015 – Bryanston’s Tyrone Ryan claimed his seventh victory on the IGT Tour in the GFG Academy Classic at Irene Country Club on Wednesday, but only dispatching JC Ritchie at the fourth extra hole in a sudden-death play-off that lasted nearly two hours.

Ryan fired a six-under-par 66 to the clubhouse target at 14 under 202, but GFG Academy member Richie matched his total with an eagle-birdie finish for a 67.

At the first extra hole, the pair surrounded the pin at the first with their approach shots and set off for the par-four eighth after both players boxed their birdie putts.

Ryan mailed his tee shot straight down the fairway at the par five, but his opponent’s drive veered out of bounds right. Ritchie reloaded and flew second tee shot left.

“JC recovered with an excellent approach to the back of the green, while I laid up,” Ryan said. “I had about 100 meters in and aimed right of the pin. I pulled the shot a little, though, and it went straight over the flag and ended in the semi-rough.

“My chip died just on the green and JC put pressure on me with a superb chip to a foot. I had a six-foot putt to win, but I misread the line completely. It was the story of my day.”

After the pair split the difference, they headed back to the first tee. The adrenaline was pumping as the pair teed off at the 332 meter opening hole. Ryan drove it just short of the green and Ritchie pitched his drive in the greenside bunker.

“JC connected with a rock in the bunker, but he still played a great trap shot and left himself an 18-foot putt,” Ryan explained. “I knew I had to hit it close and chipped to 10 feet.

“For the first time all day, I read the putt perfectly. Uphill, inside right and into the cup she rolled. He missed the putt and the victory was mine.

“I have to congratulate JC on a great performance, though, especially the way he played himself out of trouble at the ninth. He kept the play-off alive with a great short game and great determination.”

Like Ritchie, Ryan is also a graduate of the country’s premier development Tour.

He qualified for the 2011 Sunshine Tour and kept his card for two years, but had to make a return trip to Qualifying School after injury derailed his 2013 season.

The 26-year-old champion said he enjoys playing the IGT Tour in his down time.

“It’s always nice to come back and to test yourself against the up-and-coming amateurs and young professionals,” he said. “This week we had something like 20 pros playing. From guys like long time pro Desvonde Botes to young rookies like Zander Lombard.

“When we have a couple of weeks off, it’s important to keep the rust off and the Sunshine Tour players enjoy the competitive vibe on the IGT Tour.”

Ryan commended the recent collaboration between the country’s leading and the IGT Tour.

“I think it’s a win-win idea,” he said. “The academies get the chance to show the youngsters what they offer, while their members get the opportunity to gain experience on a very competitive Tour.”

GFG Academy owner, Graeme Francis, was equally pleased with the turn-out.

“This initiative between the IGT Tour and the academies is really good for the development of our players, especially our amateurs, and for the future of the game in South Africa,” Francis said.

“We had a lot of support from our Sunshine Tour professionals this week and it was good to see the likes of JC, Ockie Strydom, Lean Boesaart, Russel Franz and Jaco Prinsloo competing alongside amateurs like Ross Sinclair, David Ashley, Duan Nagel, Bartjie de Klerk, Keanan Aysen, and such. CJ du Plessis even caddied for JC Levy to give him some pointers.

“In time, we hope we can draw some sponsorship to develop the four events into one big event for each of the eight academies that joined. I also have to give credit to Irene Country Club, we presented us with a pristine course and the set up over the three rounds was fantastic.”

FINAL RESULT

*202 – Tyrone Ryan 69 67 66 (*won 4th play-off hole)

202 – JC Ritchie 67 68 67

203 – Dean O’Riley 69 66 68, Drikus Bruyns 70 63 70

205 – Shaun Smith 69 71 65, Rosswell Sinclair AMA 71 66 68, Christiaan Bezuidenhout 67 69 69, Derik Ferreira 71 65 69

206 – Jacques Kruyswijk 69 67 70

207 – Jaco Prinsloo 73 65 69, Daniel Hammond 69 68 70

208 – Michael Palmer 72 67 69, Louis Calitz 73 66 69

209 – Hennie Du Plessis 68 66 75

210 – Bartjie De Klerk AMA 75 66 69, Gideon Pienaar 73 67 70, Francois Coetzee 71 69 70

211 – Bryn Flanagan 72 66 73

212 – Neil Cheetham (ENG) 70 71 71, Lean Boezaart 74 67 71, Conway Kunneke 72 68 72, David Ashley AMA 70 69 73

213 – Louis Taylor AMA 74 69 70, Coert Groenewald 72 70 71, Russel Franz 74 70 69, Zander Lombard 70 70 73, Ruan Conradie AMA 71 68 74, Desvonde Botes 71 66 76

214 – Glen de Waal (NAM) 71 74 69, Breyten Meyer 75 70 69

215 – Werner Van Niekerk 75 68 72, Eddie Taylor 75 69 71, Ockert Strydom 72 65 78

216 – Herman Minnie 74 70 72

217 – Hilton Hughes AMA 70 72 75, Wesley Baptiste AMA 73 72 72, CJ Levey AMA 79 67 71, Otto van Greunen 74 73 70

218 – Shaun van Tonder 76 73 69

219 – Pierre Viviers 73 71 75, Duane Keun 76 68 75, Niel Meyer 74 71 74, Arno Bartholoma (GER) 72 68 79, Rae Mackie 74 73 72

220 – Andrew McLardy 75 69 76, Gert Myburgh 73 72 75

221 – Christiaan Pretorius 75 70 76, Dwayne Coetzee 76 70 75, Divan Marais AMA 77 71 73, Carlos Arroyo AMA 75 73 73

222 – Wim Grobler 75 71 76, Rikus Oosthuizen AMA 79 68 75, Joubert Van Eeden AMA 75 73 74

223 – Matthew Vogel 73 72 78

224 – Ruan Huysamen (NAM) 74 68 82, Chris Haefele 77 72 75

225 – Wayne Stroebel 75 73 77, Michael Armstrong AMA 76 72 77, Justin Levy (NLD) 78 70 77

227 – Paul Cuningham 77 71 79, Reynhard Reynecke AMA 75 74 78, Louis Botha 78 71 78

N/R – Stephan Erasmus AMA 72 72 N/R

Latest Big Easy IGT Golf News