Campaigners set the pace at Ruimsig Country Club

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PORT ALFRED, SOUTH AFRICA - OCTOBER 13: Tyrone Ryan during day 2 of the Sun Fish River Challenge at Fish River Sun Country Club on October 13, 2016 in Port Alfred, South Africa. EDITOR'S NOTE: For free editorial use. Not available for sale. No commercial usage. (Photo by Petri Oeschger/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images)
  • Post published:January 25, 2017

Tyrone Ryan and Anthony Michael set the first round target in the Race to Q-School #13 at five-under-par 67 on Monday. The Sunshine Tour duo share a slender one shot lead, with rookies Estiaan Conradie and Matthew Spacey crowding their rear-view mirror in the IGT Challenge Tour event at Ruimsig Country Club.

Conradie, a three-time winner last season, fired a flawless 68.

The 19-year-old from Wingate Park made a less than spectacular start in his pro debut at Randpark last week when he opened with rounds of 73 and 77. However, he fired seven birdies on the trot for a six-under-par 66 and a top 30 finish in the final round at the Bushwillow Course and brought that hot form to Roodepoort.

‘I am working on a few things with my coach but it didn’t quite come together in the first two rounds at Randpark,’ said Conradie, who picked up his gains at four, five, 11 and 14. ‘Everything gelled in the final round and it was the same today. I didn’t force anything and I just worked at keeping a clean card.

‘I felt very comfortable and hardly missed any shots, so it was a very good day all round. The final round last week definitely helped build my confidence, so I felt good going out there. I think my driver, my irons and my putter all combined well.

‘The course is in great conditions, especially the greens. They are very true and are rolling at the nice, fast speed. If the putter warms up, I can definitely go low this week.’

Spacey was equally pleased with his opening gambit.

‘I’ve putting in a lot of extra time in the gym to get fitter and I’ve worked hard on the various facets of my game since we broke for the holidays last December,’ said the Dainfern golfer. ‘I always struggle to post a nice low score in the first round, so this is a very positive result. It’s great to put a low number there and have something to build on over the next two days.

‘I was really happy with my short game today. Every time I put myself in a tough spot, I hit a really great chip to up-and-down for birdie or par. I also holed a lot of putts, which was the difference between the latter part of last season and today. The Sunshine Tour Q-School is two months away, so you want to start seeing this kind of form about now, so yeah, I’m really pleased with this start.’

Sunshine Tour player Jaco Prinsloo is also poised to strike.

Coming off successive victories on the country’s premier golf development, the Pretoria professional has hit a rich vein of form just two weeks before the Sunshine Tour’s Eye of Africa PGA Championship.  Prinsloo is handily placed just two off the pace alongside Bryce Myburgh, Andi Dill, South Korea’s Dongkwan Kim, Englishman Brad Harris and Italian amateur Philip Geerts.

By Lali Stander

First Round Scores

All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified and amateurs indicated as AMA.

67 – Tyrone Ryan, Anthony Michael

68 – Estiaan Conradie, Matthew Spacey

69 – Bryce Myburgh, Andi Dill, Dongkwan Kim (KOR), Philip Geerts AMA (ITA), Jaco Prinsloo, Brad Harris (ENG)

70 – Jacopo Vecchi Fossa (ITA), Ruan Korb AMA, Phillip Kruse AMA, Ockert Strydom, Mark James (ENG)a