Estiaan eclipses brother Ruan to claim Copperleaf title | TeamSA - TeamSA
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Estiaan eclipses brother Ruan to claim Copperleaf title

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A courageous fight back over the last nine holes at The Els Club Copperleaf landed Pretoria rookie Estiaan Conradie in the winner’s circle in the first tournament of the 2017 Race to Q-School on Wednesday.

The 19-year-old Wingate Park golfer gave himself a brilliant early birthday present when he eclipsed his rivals with six birdies on the back straight for a final round 69 to triumph by four strokes on 13-under-par 203.

Matt Bright took second with a 68, while older sibling Ruan Conradie closed with a 71 to finish in third on eight under.

His fifth IGT Challenge Tour victory – and second as a professional – helped Conradie the gap on Order of Merit leader Ruan to just over R12,000 and levelling the trophy haul at five apiece comes with some benefits.

‘The rule is that the winner drives the family Camry, so Ruan will be driving shot-gun for a while,’ chuckled Conradie. ‘My parents usually take us out for dinner to celebrate our birthdays and I think Ruan should cover the bill tomorrow night, too.’

Estiaan started the last day with a two-shot lead, but he found himself trailing his brother after the first four holes.

‘I dropped three shots in a row from the second and Ruan birdied the fourth to overtake Matt and myself for the lead,’ he said. ‘I just started with the wrong strategy. The first two holes are birdie holes and you should be aggressive but I played the first couple of holes too defensively.

‘I left myself too far from the hole and three-putted the second and the third, and I snap-hooked my second shot at the third and it flew straight into the hazard. At the short hole (five), I hit it to 12 foot and holed the putt to get one shot back.’

Brother Ruan also birdied eight to stay ahead, but dropped successive shots at six and seven to fall back to seven under. Both brothers birdied eight and parred the ninth, but Estiaan fired three birdied in a row from 10 to increase the gap on the chasing pack. Back-to-back bogeys at 13 and 14 put the brakes on his run, though.

‘I drained a seven-foot downhill putt at 10, boxed a six foot left to right slider at 11 and holed a three-footer at 12,’ explained the Wanna Be A Champion Academy golfer. ‘I actually overshot the flag at 12, but the ball hit the back slope and kept rolling until it died three feet from the hole.

‘I thought I hit a good drive at 13, but I caught a bad bounce into the fairway bunker. I didn’t get out first try and missed an eight-footer to save par. At 14, the pin was tucked on the left and I short-sided myself when my tee shot finishes left of the green.’
Taking an aggressive approach into the last holes, Conradie racked up another trio of birdies from the 15th and signed off with a par at the closing hole.

‘It definitely wasn’t pretty,’ he said. ‘It was a roller-coaster of a round, because although the wind wasn’t as strong as the first two rounds, it was swirling constantly and club selection was really tough. I had to rely a lot on the putter to save me, but I got it done. I’m really pleased to win the first event to lead the Race to Q-School. My goal is to top the rankings at the end the series, so this is a perfect start.’

Picture of Estiaan Conradie with The Els Club Copperleaf Director of Golf Jaun Geyser courtesy of CJ du Plooy)

Final Result
All competitors SA unless otherwise specified and amateurs are indicated as AMA:
203 – Estiaan Conradie 68 66 69
207 – Matt Bright 71 68 68
208 – Ruan Conradie 69 68 71
210 – Armand van Dyk AMA 72 72 66
211 – Roberto Lupini 70 66 75
212 – Leon Visser AMA 72 71 69, Marthin Scheepers 69 72 71, Pieter Moolman 67 70 75
213 – Paul Boshoff 71 72 70, Maritz Wessels 68 73 72
214 – Ruan Groenewald AMA 74 72 68, Conway Kunneke 73 73 68, Ruan Korb 69 75 70, Joubert van Eeden 74 69 71
215 – Zabastian de Jager 72 72 71, Juran Dreyer AMA 70 73 72, Tertius van den Berg 71 72 72, Hayden Griffiths AMA 71 72 72, Jade Buitendag 69 72 74
216 – Clinton Grobler 77 71 68
218 – Otto van Buynder AMA 75 72 71, Jabulane Mabilane 71 76 71, Albert Venter 74 74 70
219 – Albert Visser 74 72 73, Quintin Crause 70 74 75, Jay Fourie 71 72 76
220 – Thabi Ngcobo 70 76 74
221 – Michael Steyn 75 70 76, Phillip Kruse AMA 73 75 73, Theunis Bezuidenhout AMA 72 80 69
222 – Jan-Louis Nel AMA 72 76 74, Adam Botha AMA 77 73 72, Ruhan van Dijk AMA 74 77 71, Justin Turner 77 75 70
223 – Mpho Mafishe 77 71 75, Christian Basson AMA 72 76 75, Bryce Myburgh 75 75 73, Jack Duthie 80 73 70
224 – Richard Joubert AMA 77 73 74, Jancarel Rossouw AMA 75 75 74
225 – Deon Bredenkamp 73 77 75
227 – Mae Cornforth 77 74 76
228 – Ryan Wingrove AMA 78 72 78, Terence Mogapi 79 74 75, Shaun van Tonder 77 78 73
229 – Duan Nagel AMA 71 78 80
230 – Liam Clinton AMA 77 72 81, Marcus Smal AMA 77 75 78
231 – Jason Ackerman AMA 80 74 77
232 – Gareth Anderson AMA 77 74 81
233 – Andrew Plint AMA 80 75 78
234 – Francois van Rensburg AMA 75 77 82
235 – Christopher De Beer AMA 78 76 81
WDN – Juan Langeveld 73 71 WDN, Zillan Du Pisani AMA 78 77 WDN


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