Zander Lombard romped to a memorable eighth IGT Challenge Tour victory in a wire-to-wire performance at the Race to Q-School #14 on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old Tshwane golfer produced a four-birdie flurry at the end of the final round for a six-under-par 66 at Woodhill Country Club to finish at 19 under 197 – a magnificent five shots clear of Zambian star Madalitso Muthiya.
‘I played so well today,’ said Lombard. ‘I hit all the right shots and made a lot of good decisions, which was really satisfying. It feels great to win again, especially ahead of the Eye of Africa PGA Championship. One of the most pleasing aspects of this week was getting myself into position and getting the job done. Hopefully I can take this form into next week and enjoy another positive result.’
Lombard opened with an eight under 64 at his home course for a one shot lead over Ockert Strydom.
He carded 67 in the second round and could have been forgiven for looking over his shoulder at a hungry chasing pack when started the final round with a two shot edge over Strydom and fellow Sunshine Tour campaigner Danie van Tonder.
On the final day, he stretched his advantage with an eagle-birdie combination at five and sixth and still had a firm hold on the reigns after a bogey at 12.
‘I had a fantastic day with the driver and the irons, but the putter let me down some,’ Lombard said. ‘I had seven lip-outs from 15 to 20 feet, but then the putts suddenly started to drop and I made four birdies down the straight.
‘I was really impressed with the cut, which fell at two over. It’s amazing to see how the standard on the IGT Challenge Tour has improved since I first started playing the tour as an amateur back in 2012.
‘I remember when the Sunshine Tour pros used to come and play, we would really pick up our games and try to catch them. It’s nice to give back now and I know guys like Danie and Ockie feel the same.
‘We need the game time, but we also put ourselves out there to give the amateurs a target to go for and it’s fantastic to see how they step up. This was just the kind of competitive experience I wanted and I’ll take some nice positive energy into the Eye of Africa next week.’
Muthiya, Van Tonder and Strydom will also take some confidence to the Eye of Africa Signature Course, while 19-year-old rookie Estiaan Conradie heads to the South African Stroke Play Championship next week knowing that he held his own against the Sunshine Tour players.
Muthiya fired a flawless 65 to finish third on 14 under, Van Tonder was two shots back after a 70 and Strydom, an 11-time winner on the country’s premier golf development circuit, tied for fourth at 11 under with Conradie, who won three times last season.
By Lali Stander
All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified and amateurs indicated as AMA.
197 – Zander Lombard 64 67 66
202 – Madalitso Muthiya (ZAM) 68 69 65
204 – Danie Van Tonder 68 66 70
205 – Estiaan Conradie 68 68 69, Ockert Strydom 65 69 71
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