26th August 2014 | Big Easy IGT Golf

Searson soars to Race to Asian Q-School lead

Wingate25-27AugDay1 (127)(Photo – James Searson; credit CJ du Plooy)

TSHWANE, 26 August 2014 – Mere months after he nearly quit the game for good, James Searson from KwaZulu-Natal launched his bid for a maiden IGT Tour win in the fourth Race to Asian Q-School at Wingate Park Country Club on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old Durban golfer traded two birdies and an eagle against a lone bogey in the second round for a three-under par 69 and a two stroke lead on five-under-par 139.

However, Searson could have a fight on his hands with former IGT Tour winners Coert Groenewald, Lean Boezaart and Pretoria amateur, Zander Lombard, breathing down his neck.

Groenewald and Lombard moved into contention with 68s, while Boezaart registered a 71

GFG Academy player Russel Franz (72) lurked at 142, while amateurs Andy Dill (71) and Hennie du Plessis (71) stayed in touch alongside Ryan Gosling (72) and Matthew Kent (72) on 143.

Searson had five straight pars before his first birdie putt dropped at the par-four sixth, but a plugged approach at the seventh undid the good work. His patience was further tested by another run of pars before he made three at the par-five 15th.

“That eagle gave me some momentum for the closing stretch, because the last four holes are pretty tough, especially when the wind is gusting,” he said.

“I hit a full gap wedge into the 16th and the ball just cleared the water, but I managed to salvage par and nailed my second birdie from give at the 17th.”

The Royal Durban golfer tapped in for a regulation par five at the 18th to seal his lead.

“Course management is critical around this course, ,” he said.

“I’ve only dropped two shots in 36 holes, but I’m hitting a lot of irons instead of driver. I prefer to leave myself a full shot into the green. They are lightning fast and the 50 to 60 foot approaches are really tough to stop.”

Searson was pleasantly surprised to find himself in pole position

“A few months ago, I wouldn’t have thought it possible,” he said.

“I left for the States in February after I missed by card at the 2014 Sunshine Tour Q-School. I planned a complete career change, but after those plans went pear shaped, I spent a few months with a buddy of mine, Wesley Worcester, who is a golf pro in Dallas.

“When I got back in May, my family convinced me to give the game another chance.”

The University of Louisiana Monroe graduate relocated to Pretoria in 2013 when he held a Big Easy card. “I played a couple of IGT Tour events in 2013, so I decided to return to Pretoria and play the IGT Tour full time,” he said.

“Graeme Francis from the GFG Academy got my head back into the game and then John Dixon, who has been my coach since I was seven, moved to The Els Club at Copperleaf.

“All these things pushed me in the right direction. I believe in myself again. Leading this tournament is nowhere near winning it, but it’s a great feeling just to be in contention.

“That’s what I love about the IGT Tour. You have a strong competitive environment that focusses you, and motivates you to improve.”

Searson topped the charts, but amateur Brendan Britten had his own cause for celebration.

The Namibian aced the 16th with a pitching wedge from 132 meters. The cherished one on his card saw Britten sign for a second successive 76 and left him one shot inside the cut, set at 153.

SECOND ROUND SCORES

139 – James Searson 70 69

141 – Coert Groenewald 73 68, Zander Lombard (AMA) 73 68, Lean Boezaart 70 71

142 – Russel Franz 70 72

143 – Andi Dill (AMA) 72 71, Hennie Du Plessis (AMA) 72 71, Ryan Gosling 71 72, Matthew Kent 71 72

144 – Teaghan Gauche (AMA) 73 71, Ted Hendriks 72 72, Zabastian De Jager (AMA) 71 73, Rosswell Sinclair (AMA) 71 73, Hendrikus Stoop (AMA) 69 75

145 – Jandre Fullard (AMA) 74 71, Jason Smith (AMA) 74 71, Rae Mackie 74 71, Ruan Conradie (AMA) 73 72, Werner Van Niekerk 70 75

146 – Tristen Strydom (AMA) 76 70, Bryn Flanagan (AMA) 73 73, TJ Bekker 71 75

147 – Calvin Caldeira (AMA) 75 72, Jerry Steyn 72 75, Leon Scheepers (AMA) 71 76

148 – Tjaart Van Wyk (AMA) 76 72, Herman Minnie 77 71, Conway Kunneke 74 74, Stephan De Beer (AMA) 73 75, Mark Fraser 73 75, Jacquin Hess 78 70

149 – NJ Arnoldi (AMA) 78 71

150 – Antonio Rosado POR 78 72, Nikki Jonker (AMA) 79 71

151 – Hano van der Walt 76 75, Pieter Van der Linde (AMA) 75 76, Slade Fick (AMA) 71 80, Johan Smit (AMA) 81 70

152 – Brendan Britten NAM (AMA) 76 76, Albert Visser (AMA) 77 75, Brendan De Lange 74 78, Dwayne Coetzee 78 74, JC van Dommelen 70 82

153 – Divan Marais (AMA) 75 78, JP Schmidt (AMA) 76 77, DK Kim KOR 75 78, Niel Meyer (AMA) 78 75, Duane Keun 73 80, Frans Strydom 78 75, Jaco Mouton 79 74

Missed the cut:-

154 – Duncan Neill (AMA) 75 79, Simon Kruger (AMA) 77 77, Matthew Adams (AMA) 81 73

155 – Eduard Van Den Berg (AMA) 75 80, David Lamprecht 77 78

156 – James Garlinge (AMA) 76 80, Jacqui Akers (AMA) 76 80, Terence Boardman 76 80, Werner van der Walt 77 79, Byron Garvie 78 78, David Rebelo (AMA) 73 83

157 – Christian Kayumba-Mbanga ZIM 76 81, MJ Viljoen 77 80, Shaun van Tonder 79 78

158 – Marco De Beer (AMA) 78 80, Christiaan Pretorius 83 75

161 – Christiaan Greyling (AMA) 74 87, Rhoan Gardiner 81 80, Ruan Huysamen NAM 82 79, Daniel Joubert (AMA) 82 79

162 – Crystal Cooper (AMA) 76 86, Stephan Erasmus (AMA) 81 81, Andre Louw 83 79

163 – Werner Lourens (AMA) 84 79

164 – Quintin Crause (AMA) 76 88

165 – Shane Heckler (AMA) 80 85

166 – Wesley Baptiste (AMA) 77 89

169 – Shane Scheepers 79 90

177 – Etzard Grimbeek (AMA) 89 88

192 – Gustav Erasmus 94 98

N/R – Wayne Stroebel 78 N/R

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