27th May 2014 | Big Easy IGT Golf

Van Niekerk threatens Russel at Wingate

DSC_0197(Photo – Werner van Niekerk; credit CJ du Plooy)

JOHANNESBURG, 27 May 2014 – Werner van Niekerk joined Russel Franz in pole position at the 36-hole mark of the IGT Tour’s third Race to the USA at Wingate Park Country Club on Tuesday.

Russel carried a two stroke lead into the second round, but a frustrating 71 opened the door for Van Niekerk, who roared into a share of the lead with a five under 67.

The Pretoria players are tied at six-under-par 138, three shots clear of the chasing pack.

Joint overnight leader, Conway Kunneke, returned a 71 to slip to third on 141 alongside Jaco Prinsloo (67), Rae Mackie (68), Lean Boezaart (69) and Gideon Pienaar, who carded a 70.

Brendan de Lange dropped to eighth after a 73 to finish one shot ahead of former SA number one amateur, Brandon Stone, who improved three shots on his opening 73 to join the bus at 143.

Van Niekerk has been threatening form this season with a runner-up finish at the IGT Series Centurion, third at the IGT Series Wingate and three more top 10s in his nine starts this season.

The 23-year-old BSc Construction Management graduate dropped three shots in the first nine holes, but limited the damage with birdies at the second and fifth. The rookie professional caught fire after the turn, though, and stormed home in 31 strokes courtesy of four birdies and an eagle at the par-five 13th.

“I got the putter going after the turn and once the putts started dropping, the confidence extended to my whole game,” said the HPC Academy golfer.

“This game is all about confidence. Sometimes my confidence slips and that is something my coach (Llewellyn van Leeuwen) and I are working on.

“I believe I am getting better at turning things around. Yesterday I hit some concrete in the water hazard at the par-three 16th and ended up making a triple bogey, but I came back with a birdie, eagle finish.

“Obviously I would really like to turn all these top five finishes on the IGT Tour into a win, but there is a lot to be said about consistency. It’s nice to be finishing in the top more regularly, too.”

Meanwhile Russel just couldn’t replicate his scintillating first round form with the putter.

“I only had a bogey on each nine, so I managed to limit my mistakes, but I only managed to drain three putts for birdie on the home stretch,” the 23-year-old Zwartkops amateur said.

The two front runners for the victorious Gauteng North team last year at the SA Inter-Provincial last year and Russel is looking forward to teaming up with Van Niekerk in the final round.

“Werner and I know each other well and we were team mates last year,” the GFG Academy golfer said.

“He is very competitive and it could be a great final round battle if I can get the putter warmed up.”

SECOND ROUND SCORES

138 – Werner Van Niekerk 71 67, Russel Franz (AMA) 67 71

141 – Gideon Pienaar 71 70, Rae Mackie 73 68, Lean Boezaart 72 69, Jaco Prinsloo 74 67, Conway Kunneke 67 74

142 – Brendan De Lange 69 73

143 – Anton Steenkamp (AMA) 70 73, Stephan Erasmus (AMA) 71 72, Jacques Kruyswijk 70 73, Brandon Stone 73 70, Ludovic Bax MUS (AMA) 73 70, Calvin Caldeira (AMA) 72 71

144 – Tom Watson (AMA) 74 70, Jonathan Waschefort 74 70, JC Ritchie 70 74, Kevin Stone 72 72, Jerry Steyn 75 69

145 – Ted Hendriks 73 72, Antonio Rosado POR 72 73

146 – Willie Steyn 74 72, Hano van der Walt 77 69, Hyun Park KOR 75 71, Brett Liddle 72 74

147 – Jason Froneman (AMA) 75 72, Romano Saincic 76 71, Mike Quinn 76 71, Coert Groenewald 73 74

148 – Keegan De Lange (AMA) 78 70, Herman Minnie 72 76, Andi Dill (AMA) 76 72, Mike Downes ENG 77 71

149 – Slade Fick (AMA) 74 75, Matthew Kiewitz (AMA) 77 72, Hilton Hughes (AMA) 76 73, Pierre Viviers 70 79, Albert Pistorius 77 72

150 – Duane Keun 76 74, Wayne du Toit 78 72

151 – JP Schmidt (AMA) 72 79, Johan Smit (AMA) 74 77, Dongkwan Kim KOR 77 74, Byron Garvie 77 74, Rob Menzies ENG 77 74

152 – Gustav Gouws (AMA) 75 77, Jongikyaya Jika 76 76, Pieter Kruger 78 74, Ruwan Combrink 78 74

153 – Lydon Charnely (AMA) 79 74

154 – Wesley Baptiste (AMA) 76 78, Hanbo Lee 77 77, Stephan De Beer (AMA) 76 78, Ruan Conradie (AMA) 78 76, Gareth Akers (AMA) 74 80, Wayne Stroebel 74 80

155 – Ryan Wingrove (AMA) 76 79, CJ Levey (AMA) 77 78, Alwyn Vorster 77 78, Niel Meyer (AMA) 77 78

Missed the cut:-

156 – Albert Visser (AMA) 76 80, Rhoan Gardiner 79 77

157 – Duncan Neill (AMA) 83 74, Peetie Van Der Merwe (AMA) 76 81, Paul De Beer 81 76, Andrew Lamont (AMA) 78 79, Shaun van Tonder 73 84, Ruan Botha 77 80, Francesca Cuturi 79 78, Robert Herselman 78 79, Dwayne Coetzee 81 76, Alex Botha (AMA) 83 74

158 – Lloyd Herbst (AMA) 80 78, Justin Thomas (AMA) 77 81

159 – David Lamprecht 78 81

160 – Werner Lourens (AMA) 76 84, Lucas Steyn 79 81, Jandre Fullard (AMA) 80 80

161 – Christiaan Pretorius 87 74, Arno Pretorius (AMA) 83 78

162 – Pieter Van der Linde (AMA) 82 80

163 – Michael Van Hoeck (AMA) 78 85, Hayden Millar (AMA) 78 85, Leon Scheepers (AMA) 81 82, Arno Bartholoma (AMA) 83 80

165 – Jadrick Fourie (AMA) 82 83

166 – Michael Jooste (AMA) 83 83

167 – James Garlinge (AMA) 80 87, Loic Csizmadia MUS (AMA) 83 84

173 – Daniel Joubert (AMA) 91 82

176 – Gustav Erasmus 87 89

179 – Russell Jaques (AMA) 94 85

184 – Ryan Kuhn (AMA) 96 88

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