Eagle Canyon amateur David McIntyre is targeting an IGT Tour double after he came out on top at the Race to Q-School #4 on Monday.
Just five days after he captured the third tournament in the 18-event Race to Q-School series at State Mines, McIntyre was in sublime form in the first round at Kyalami Country Club.
The 20-year-old withstood the pressure of former Sunshine Tour campaigner Justin Turner at the tight, tree-lined layout and fired seven birdies for a magnificent six-under-par 66.
He finished one stroke clear of Turner and two ahead of two-time winner Damian Naicker, who joined the chase with an eagle at the 18th for a four under 68.
Pretoria’s Phillip Kruse – another amateur who visited the winner’s circle on the country’s premier development golf tour earlier this season – wiped out an early double bogey with a trio of birdies on the back nine to tie for fourth at three under 69 with Ekurhuleni amateur Angus Ellis-Cole.
Another nine players managed to break par in the opening round, but none of them did it with as much style as McIntyre.
The BDGA player got off to a fast start with a birdie at the opening hole and dipped deeper into red numbers with further gains at four, six and nine. He was in a buoyant mood after he negated a lone bogey at 11 with a birdie at 13 and a brace of birdies at 17 and 18 to take the lead.
‘I wasn’t hitting the ball all that well off the tee, but I holed a lot putts and my short game kept me out of any serious trouble,’ McIntyre said.
‘This isn’t the kind of course where you can afford to hit it offline. Anything off the fairway is in the trees and you are severely punished, because there is hardly ever a straight shot to the green.’
McIntyre has been working hard on his overall game and he feels the rewards are starting to show in the Race to Q-School series.
‘I’ve been working on all the parts of my game to put a score together and I’ve been very happy with my long game all year, but I haven’t benefit from it the way I would have liked,” he said.
‘Things started to look up at the Race to Q-School #2 at Waterkloof where I finished second and last week I had the best ball striking rounds of the year in the first and second rounds at State Mines.
‘I struggled again off the tee in the final round, but the putter and the short game came to the party. It was a real scramble to win the play-off, but hopefully I can build on that this week. Hopefully I find a bit more accuracy off the tee as the week progresses, but overall I’m satisfied to be contention.
‘That’s the name of the game in the build-up to Qualifying School. I feel that I am at that point where, if I get a good feel on the greens and I hole some putts, I can really compete. I brought some good momentum into the week and hopefully I can keep it positive over the next few days.’
By Lali Stander
All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified and amateurs indicated as AMA
66 – David McIntyre AMA
67 – Justin Turner
68 – Damian Naicker
69 – Angus Ellis-Cole AMA, Phillip Kruse AMA