9 November 2017

South Africa: Conradie in Seventh Heaven After Victory in Centurion

Pretoria rookie Ruan Conradie picked up his seventh IGT Challenge Tour title with a play-off victory over Toto Thimba Jnr and Conway Kunneke in the fifth Race to Q-School at Centurion Country Club on Wednesday.

On a thrilling final day, the lead changed hands regularly, but it was Conradie, Thimba Jnr and Kunneke who emerged as the joint leaders at 10-under 206 at the end of regulation play.

Conradie sealed his fifth win this season with a birdie at the first extra hole.

The Wingate Park golfer had started the final day in a tie for fifth with Kunneke and the pair was three shots off the 36-hole lead held by Philip Geerts.

Timba Jnr was a further stroke adrift but he racked up birdies at the first, sixth and eighth holes to reach the turn first at eight under. Kunneke matched his score with gains at six and eight and Conradie turned seven under after birdies at one and five, and a bogey at four.

'I also got to eight under with a birdie at 10, but Conway and I got to the 11th tee, we saw there was eight guys on eight under,' said Conradie. 'It was incredibly tight.'

Timba Jnr once again edged ahead with a birdie at 12, but he gave the shot back at 13.

The Gary Player Class of 2017 player birdied 16 and 18, though, and took the clubhouse lead with a five-under-par 67. Kunneke and Conradie made it a three-way tie at the top with rounds of 68.

'Conway birdied at 12 and 14 and I also birdied 12 and I birdied 15,' said Conradie. 'I was hoping for a birdie at 18, but I hit my tee shot in the right bunker, which killed any chance of a birdie.

'We went back to the 18th. It's the club's regular ninth and it's a drivable par four, so I knew if I could stay clear of the bunker, I'd have a chance. I also wanted to have a right-to-left putt, because the left-to-right putt is a proper slider. Toto and Conway both put it in the bunker, but my tee shot came off perfectly and finished about 30 metres below the hole in the fringe.

'Toto and Conway both got it on the green with their trap shots and had 20-footers for birdie. Toto was right of the pin and Conway was also below the hole. I lagged my first putt to about five foot. When they both missed, I just had to get the ball in the hole for the win.'

Conradie described his seventh win as the toughest one yet.

'The set-up this week was seriously tough,' said the 22-year-old Wanna Be A Champion golfer.

'We played off the tops and the pins were tucked in impossible places. Your irons and wedges had to be very accurate and if your swing wasn't on, it was very hard to score.

'After the first nine holes on day two, I knew I needed a good back nine to give myself a chance and I got within three shots, but the final round was pressure-packed. There were so many guys in it and it was even worse in the play-off.

'I'm really proud of how far I've come this year. I stayed really calm and in the moment and I executed the shots in the play-off exactly how I planned them.'

Younger brother Estiaan Conradie won last month and kept the top spot in the Race to Q-School Order of Merit with a tie for fourth, but the victory moved Conradie within R2,000 of his sibling.

'Since he made me pay for dinner last month, it's his turn and it won't be cheap,' Conradie quipped.

Just as Andi Dill slipped back after leading the first round, so too did Philip Geerts. The Italian shot 65 in the second round but a 75 on Wednesday saw him ending four shots adrift at the end.

FINAL SCORES

All competitors SA unless otherwise specified; amateurs indicated as AMA

206 - Ruan Conradie 71 67 68, Toto Thimba Jnr 73 66 67, Conway Kunneke 70 68 68

207 - Theunis Bezuidenhout AMA 72 69 66, Maritz Wessels 73 67 67, Estiaan Conradie 70 67 70

208 - Paul Boshoff 74 65 69

209 - Peetie van der Merwe AMA 77 65 67, Marthin Scheepers 71 70 68, Roberto Lupini 74 67 68, Clinton Grobler 69 70 70, Pieter Kruger 69 67 73

210 - Duane Keun 74 66 70, Philip Geerts (ITA) 70 65 75

211 - Patrick Thompson 71 72 68

213 - Makhetha Mazibuko 73 69 71, Ruan Groenewald AMA 69 73 71, Marco de Beer 70 71 72, Luke Trocado 72 69 72, Teboho Sefatsa 70 69 74

214 - Bryce Myburgh 73 67 74

215 - Lejan Lewthwaite 75 69 71, Teagan Moore 70 70 75, Jason Roets 77 72 66

216 - Divan Marais 71 74 71, David Mofokeng (LSO) 72 71 73, Albert Venter 75 71 70, Louis Albertse AMA 78 69 69

217 - Matt Bright 72 71 74, Eric Nel AMA 75 70 72, Andi Dill 67 75 75, Jonathan Waschefort 73 73 71

218 - John McClean (NIR) 73 74 71, Azelia Meichtry AMA 75 72 71, Basil Wright 76 72 70

219 - Bennie van der Merwe 74 72 73, Michael Schutz 72 74 73, Michael Steyn 70 73 76, Jack Duthie 75 73 71

220 - Keelan van Wyk AMA 71 73 76, Rudolph van de Venter AMA 72 73 75, Juan Langeveld 70 73 77, Ruan Korb 75 68 77, Tertius van den Berg 72 75 73, Jay Fourie 78 70 72, Johan van der Wath 75 74 71, Benjamin Follett-Smith (ZIM) 76 73 71

221 - Phillip Kruse AMA 73 72 76, Andrew Carlsson AMA 74 75 72, Duan Nagel AMA 75 75 71

222 - Hendrikus Stoop AMA 73 74 75, Paulo Serrao AMA (POR) 73 76 73, Thabi Ngcobo 78 72 72

224 - Michael Dreyer 75 71 78, Quintin Crause 73 73 78

225 - NJ van der Walt AMA 76 69 80, Gareth Anderson AMA 77 72 76, Hanro Kilian AMA 78 72 75, Shaun van Tonder 76 75 74

226 - Wayne du Toit 73 76 77

227 - Albert Visser 74 74 79

230 - Heinrich Penzhorn AMA 74 76 80

231 - Gary Jutzen AMA 77 74 80

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