Pretoria amateur Ruan Conradie raced into the first-round lead in the IGT Tour’s Race to QSchool #5 on Monday, thanks to a blistering front nine at Ebotse Links.
The 21-year-old from Wingate Park hit the front with a five-under-par 67 on a windswept afternoon in Benoni to pull two strokes clear of fellow amateur Andrew Carlsson, and finish three shots ahead of professionals Jonathan Waschfort and Englishman Greg Blainey.
Last week Conradie’s Gauteng North Golf Union Inter-Provincial teammate Philip Kruse captured the Race to Q-School #4 at Kyalami Country Club for his second success on the country’s premier golf development circuit in 2016.
Brother Estiaan has three wins to his name and Conradie hopes to convert the solid start into a second visit to the winner’s circle on the IGT Tour this season.
‘There was just a slight breeze when I teed off at 10:00, but from previous visits to Ebotse, I know the wind likes to blow here in the afternoon, so it was important to take advantage of the early conditions,’ Conradie said.
‘I am striking the ball really well and I was able to shape shots to put myself in a lot of good positions before the turn.’
Conradie followed a birdie start with a run of four birdies from the sixth hole to complete the front loop in 31 strokes. The Wanna Be A Champion Academy player picked up another birdie at the par-four 14th to get to six under, but gave one back at the penultimate hole.
‘The wind really picked up on the back nine,’ Conradie said.
‘It was between a two and two-and-a-half club wind, so I just tried to keep myself in play and limit the mistakes. Unfortunately I hit my approach at 17 into the hazard on the left. I hit a solid second, but the ball pitched on the fringe of the green and bounced left into trouble.
‘Sometimes the bounce is with you, sometimes is isn’t. You can’t harp on things like that. You just have to get on with the job.’
Conradie claimed his maiden IGT Tour title at the Centurion Classic in February just a month after his younger brother Estiaan won the first event of the season at their home course.
‘Estiaan won two more and I haven’t stopped hearing about it,’ said Conradie. ‘He couldn’t play this week, so hopefully I can take full advantage of the two-shot lead to close out my second win and close that gap on him.
‘The Race to Q-School is definitely more pressurised, the courses are set up tougher and the players are stepping it up, but I am loving the pressure.’
By Lali Stander
First Round Scores
All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified and amateurs indicated as AMA.
67 – Ruan Conradie AMA
69 – Andrew Carlsson AMA
70 – Gregg Blainey (ENG), Jonathan Waschefort
71 – Martin Rohwer, Tristen Strydom