Follett-Smith leads from start to finish in Brakpan | TeamSA - TeamSA
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Follett-Smith leads from start to finish in Brakpan

Follett-Smith

Ben Follett-Smith sealed a dominant wire-to-wire victory in the 15th event of the Race to Q-School Series, sealing his maiden IGT Challenge Tour title in Brakpan on Wednesday.

A final round six-under-par 66 at State Mines Country Club saw the Zimbabwean triumph with a four-shot margin on 17-under-par 199.

Tokkie van der Berg lost his grip on the overnight lead early on, but a flawless back nine and a final round 69 landed the Tuks HPC Golf Academy player a share of second with Peetie van der Merwe and Bryce Myburgh.

Myburgh carded 68, while Van der Merwe signed off with a 67 to finish at 14-under.

Follett-Smith, Myburgh and Van der Merwe all burst from the blocks with birdie-birdie starts.

Myburgh drew level with a birdie at the third and Van der Merwe eagled at the par five, but Follett-Smith edged clear of both players with further gains at four, eight and nine.

‘I holed a 30-footer for birdie at the eighth and I hit my approach to eight feet at nine and holed the birdie putt to start the back nine with a tidy shot lead,’ said Follett-Smith.

‘Coming home was pretty stress-free but I must admit, I lost a little focus after the birdie at 10 and let one slip at the 12th when I caught a flier out of the rough. But I pulled it back.’

Follett-Smith took advantage of the par five to claim a shot back at 15 and hit a great 7-iron into the par three 16th to set up another birdie.

‘The wind blew pretty stiff over the last nine holes, and it was very inconsistent, which made it tricky to judge your clubs,’ he said. ‘I aimed five yards left of the flag, but the wind held the ball up and it finished three feet from the hole.

‘I definitely drove it better than in the second round, because I missed my first fairway of the day at the 17th. Managed to scramble a par, though, then hit my drive down 18 into the trees. I decided there was no reason to get fancy, because I had a lot of shots in hand.

‘I punched out to the fairway, got it on the green with my third and two-putted for bogey. It really didn’t matter to me if I won by four shots or one; it’s all about the win.’

Follett-Smith was long considered one of Zimbabwe’s hottest young prospects ever since winning the national amateur championship.

Back home after a four-year stint at Mississippi State University, the Harare golfer joined the pro ranks in October and promptly won the NAC HIV & Cancer Pro-Am. Less than a month later he claimed a runner-up finish in the Cote d’Ivoire Open on the West Africa Golf Tour and lost to Sunshine Tour winner Peter Karmis in a play-off in the 3e Actuaries Open in Mongomo, Equatorial Guinea in December.

Like most of the field, Follett-Smith is heading to the Sunshine Tour’s Qualifying School in March and was pleased with his progress in the last four months.

‘My results this season have improved and that gets me excited,’ he said. ‘It felt really nice to get over the line and win by a comfortable margin. I’m reaching greater consistency, and that’s been the goal all along. Even struggling off the tee, I scrambled well enough to win and that is encouraging.’

Former IGT Challenge Tour winners Kyle Barker and Jason Roets carded respective rounds of 67 and 68 to tie for fifth on 12 under, while Anton Haig produced a blemish-free eight-under 64 to pocket the R500 prize for the low round of the day.

Picture of Follett-Smith courtesy of CJ du Plooy

Final Result
199 – Benjamin Follett-Smith (ZIM) 63 70 66
202 – Peetie van der Merwe 64 71 67, Bryce Myburgh 68 66 68, Tokkie van den Berg 69 64 69
204 – Kyle Barker 72 65 67, Jason Roets 67 69 68
205 – Anton Haig 73 68 64
206 – David Mofokeng (LSO) 66 68 72
207 – Jade Buitendag 66 70 71
209 – Philip Geerts (ITA) 65 77 67, Quintin Crause 71 69 69, Bennie van der Merwe 71 68 70
210 – Matthew Vogel 70 72 68, Teboho Sefatsa 71 69 70, Paul Boshoff 67 72 71, Jason Rossiter AMA 70 68 72
211 – Roberto Lupini 72 69 70
212 – Tristen Strydom 72 72 68, Basil Wright 70 70 72
213 – Pieter Moolman 71 69 73, Marco de Beer 69 70 74
214 – Scott Chambers AMA 74 70 70, Dean O’Riley 68 73 73, Matt Bright 69 71 74, Carlo Heunis AMA 66 74 74
215 – James Pennington (SWA) 71 73 71, Shaun van Tonder 68 76 71, Matthew Rushton 73 72 70, Jack Duthie 75 71 69
216 – Dylan Mostert AMA 70 73 73, Hendrikus Stoop AMA 70 74 72, Tristan Brice AMA 71 70 75
217 – Andi Dill 72 72 73, John Bele 67 77 73, Richard Joubert 68 73 76, WM Coetzee AMA 72 73 72, Steven Lecuyer (CAN) 75 71 71, Gary Daoust (BEL) 67 73 77
218 – Alrich Labuschagne 74 72 72, Gilson Filho (BRA) 69 71 78
219 – Phillip Kruse AMA 70 74 75, Bradley Diggeden AMA 71 74 74, Mpho Mafishe 72 69 78, Michael Schutz 75 71 73, Dylan Docherty 74 73 72
220 – Juan Langeveld 70 73 77, Eric Park (KOR) 70 72 78, Zabastian de Jager 73 73 74, Luke Brown AMA 71 76 73, Michael Pfeifer AMA 80 67 73, Albert Visser 73 75 72, Werner van Wyk 74 74 72
221 – Leon Vorster AMA 76 70 75, Thabi Ngcobo 75 72 74
223 – Brandon Lydon AMA 70 79 74, Ryan Woolley AMA 78 71 74
224 – Wayne Stroebel 74 71 79, Jaco van der Merwe AMA 71 74 79, Jadrick Fourie AMA 78 69 77
225 – Andrew Plint AMA 73 75 77, Michael van Rooyen 78 71 76
226 – Bradley van Biljon AMA 73 76 77, Banele Motloung AMA 76 73 77
227 – Deon Bredenkamp 77 72 78


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