18th November 2014 | Big Easy IGT Golf

Zimbabweans dominate at Battle of the Giants

DSC_0268(Photo – Ryan Cairns; credit CJ du Plooy)

JOHANNESBURG (18 November 2014) – A cappuccino inspired Zimbabweans Ryan Cairns and Greg Bentley to eclipse the field in the first round of the IGT Tour’s Battle of the Giants at Glendower Golf Club on Tuesday.

“Greg and I were playing for a cappuccino at Killarney yesterday, but we got rained out, so we just continued the match today,” said Cairns, who took the spoils with a flawless six-under-par 66.

Playing partner Bentley eliminated two early bogeys with seven birdies to finish one off the pace.

The Zimbabwean pair sat pretty until late in the round when Sunshine Tour regular Ross Wellington eagled the 17th and birdies the 18th to join Bentley in second on 67.

Cairns was delighted with his performance, which signals a solid comeback for the 30-year-old who spent five months on the bench due to torn ligaments in his right hand.

“I was trying to grab my travel bag, but I stuck out my hand too late and the next thing, I just felt the pain,” the Harare professional explained.

“It took a long time to heal, but once I started playing, I used the time to work on my short game with Derrick James. We got rid of a lot of bad habits.”

Although Cairns qualifies for a medical exemption for 2015, he wanted to get back in the saddle as soon as possible.

“I needed some tournament practice ahead of the Cape Town Open and the Battle of the Giants is the perfect opportunity to get the rust off,” he said. “It’s great to playing Glendower and getting a feel for the course ahead of the SA Open in January.

“The fairways are very tight and narrow and the rough is coming in nicely. The greens run as pure as ever, though. If you are striking the ball well and the putter is hot, you can definitely score.”

The 2012 Vodacom Origins winner hit a smooth four-iron into the second and boxed his second putt for birdie to get his round underway. He missed the fairway at the fifth, but punched out and knocked in a three-footer for his second birdie. At the eighth, he hit a superb flop-shot from behind the green to 10 feet and boxed the putt for birdie number three.

“I turned three under and hit a wedge to 10 feet at the 10th for another birdie,” Cairns said.

“Then it went a little quiet until the 15th, where I nearly chipped from the front edge for eagled. The putt lipped out, but I got the birdie. I almost eagled the next hole, too, but the ball stopped six inches from the cup.

“The putter was definitely hot. I burned the edge of the hole at 17 and left it in the mouth at 18, so it could have been a 64. It’s fantastic to come out of such a long lay-off and shoot a score like this. And it will be even better if I can keep it going for three rounds.”

Bentley dropped a shot at the first when he failed to up-and-down from the greenside bunker and had to punch out backwards after his tee shot landed at the base of a tree at the fourth.

“Luckily those were my only bad holes,” said the 27-year-old Killarney player. “I did chip in for birdies at the fifth and seventh and nearly holed out at the 17th, but the rest was pretty textbook.”

Meanwhile seasoned professional Jaco Ahlers and IGT Tour winner Bryn Flanagan and rookie Calvin Caldeira tied for fourth on 68, while Portugal’s Antonio Rosado, a five-time IGT Tour winner this season, leads the chase at 69 alongside amateur Hennie du Plessis and Romano Saincic.

FIRST ROUND SCORES

66 – Ryan Cairns ZIM

67 – Greg Bentley ZIM, Ross Wellington

68 – Calvin Caldeira, Jaco Ahlers, Bryn Flanagan

69 – Romano Saincic, Hennie Du Plessis (AMA), Antonio RosadoPOR

70 – Wynand Dingle, Neil Cheetham ENG, Jacques Kruyswijk, Tyron McComb, Murray Smit, Ryan Tipping, Coert Groenewald

71 – Brett Liddle, Alex Haindl, Ockert Strydom, Tyrone Ryan, James Kamte, Simon Kruger (AMA), Stuart Smith BOT, Divan Van Den Heever

72 – Juan Langeveld, Jason Diab (AMA), Dayne Moore ZAM, Werner Van Niekerk, Rosswell Sinclair (AMA), Callum Mowat, Herman Minnie, Eddie Taylor

73 – Jonathan Waschefort, Glen de Waal NAM, Bonita Bredenhann NAM, Otto van Greunen, Khaya Jika, Jerry Steyn, Roberto Lupini, JC Ritchie, Michael Dreyer, CJ du Plessis, Duane Keun, Hano van der Walt

74 – Ruan Huysamen NAM, Stephan De Beer, Pieter Kruger, Jaco Prinsloo

75 – Justin Levy NED, Jacques de Villiers, Stephan Erasmus (AMA), Shaun Smith, Gideon Pienaar, Hilton Hughes (AMA), Wesley Horngren, Jaco Mouton, Pieter Van der Linde (AMA), Jason Ackerman (AMA), Lean Boezaart, Johan de Beer, Jacquin Hess

76 – Michael Kok (AMA), Francesca Cuturi, Ryan Wingrove (AMA), James Garlinge (AMA), Tyrone Lorusso, Matt Milligan (AMA), Joubert Van Eeden (AMA), Allan Jones (AMA), Mark Fraser, John McClean NIR, Ryan Clarke, Andrew McLardy

77 – Russel Franz, Christiaan Pretorius, Andre De Decker (AMA)

78 – Carlos Arroyo (AMA), Michael Van Hoeck (AMA), Dylan Docherty (AMA)

79 – Shaun van Tonder, Wayne du Toit, Danie Pretorius, Sean Burger

80 – Craig Dreyer, David Lamprecht

81 – Bryce McCabe (AMA), Arno Bartholoma GER, Benjamin Cobbett (AMA)

82 – Daniel Joubert (AMA), Helgardt Muller

83 – Gerrit Van Niekerk (AMA), Lourens Du Plessis

84 – Byron Garvie, Dean Geyer

86 – Julian de Wet (AMA)

87 – Werner Lourens (AMA)

88 – Conrad Van Tonder (AMA)

89 – Kyle Bennett

93 – Gustav Erasmus

RTD – Russell Jacques ENG

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