Geerts holds off SA trio to win maiden IGT Challenge Tour title | TeamSA - TeamSA
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Geerts holds off SA trio to win maiden IGT Challenge Tour title

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Italian Philip Geerts claimed a maiden IGT Challenge Tour victory in the 15th Race to Q-School on a thrilling final day, during which Roberto Lupini, Kyle Lucas and amateur Ruhan van Dijk all made charges towards the title.

He with a two-under-par 70 to triumph on eight-under-par 202 and finished three shots clear of the chasing trio at Killarney Country Club on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old Geerts was one shot behind Lucas at the start of the final round and slipped even further back with bogeys and three and five.

Gains at nine and 11 got him back on the winning trail and he re-joined the title-hungry pack with a birdie at 13. He quickly erased a bogey at 14 when he took advantage of the par five 15th and the birdie proved pivotal as Lupini and Van Dijk bogeyed the next hole.

Lupini recovered with a birdie at 17 to get back to six-under, which left Geerts with a one-shot lead playing the last.

‘I knew I needed to make a birdie at the last to avoid a play-off, so played two textbook shots,’ he said. ‘I had 104 metres to the pin after a good tee shot and I put it so close, I could walk in the putt.’ As it turned out. Lupini and Van Dijk both dropped at 18 and the pair slipped back to join Lucas in a tie for second on five under.

Geerts made a strong start to the 18-event Race to Q-School series with a tie for second at Ruimsig in October. He took his hot form to the Mena Tour, where he tied for 10th in the Sahara Kuwait Championship later the same month.

Coming back to South Africa after the festive break, the Paco di Roma golfer had been trending towards a breakthrough on the country’s premier golf development circuit with a recent spate of top 10 finishes.

‘I’ve definitely felt it had to happen,’ said Geerts. ‘I’ve been knocking for a while now, but if you put yourself in contention week on week, you improve your chances. You just have to stay patient, because the pay-off has to come.

‘My ball-striking wasn’t the best in the last round and I struggled a little at the start of the round, but once I get my rhythm going, I knew it would be good. I hit some fantastic short irons and wedges in to give myself opportunities to score. I’ve been working really hard on my putting, especially Robbie Stewart, too.

‘The putt at 15 was a good one, but it was really the one at 11 that gave my round momentum. I was in the trees and I hit a 7-iron from 60 feet out to the front edge and holed the putt. A good putt must go in and that birdie really brought me back into the fight.’

The victory moved Geerts to third on the Race to Q-School Order of Merit.

With two events left, he is within striking distance of the Conradie brothers. Estiaan leads the standings with R35 355 and brother Ruan is just over a R1 000 behind.

Geerts needs around R8 000 to overtake the brothers for the top spot. Top three finishes at the Els Club Copperleaf next week and Randpark at the end of February could get him there, but for now he is just satisfied that he guaranteed himself a top 10 finish.

‘It will be hard for anyone to push me out of the top 10,’ he said. ‘To win the Race to Q-School would be a bonus, but I’ve almost guaranteed myself a start in the Final Stage of the Sunshine Tour Q-School in March and that’s been the goal throughout the Race to Q-School Series.’

Picture of Geerts courtesy of CJ du Plooy

Final Results
All competitors SA unless otherwise specified and amateurs indicated as AMA
202 – Philip Geerts (ITA) 67 67 68
205 – Ruhan van Dijk AMA 65 70 70, Roberto Lupini 65 69 71, Kyle Lucas 66 67 72
206 – Hendrikus Stoop 67 70 69
207 – Steven Lecuyer (CAN) 71 69 67, Jade Buitendag 68 70 69, Juan Langeveld 69 68 70
209 – Jack Duthie 70 68 71
210 – Neal Herman 68 75 67, Bryce Myburgh 66 72 72, Matt Bright 69 68 73
211 – Ruan Korb 73 70 68, James Pennington (SWA) 72 67 72, Michael Schutz 74 73 64
213 – Arno Pretorius AMA 71 71 71, Jason Roets 70 71 72
214 – Bennie van der Merwe 71 73 70, Basil Wright 75 70 69, Wayne Stroebel 73 69 72, Clinton Grobler 71 71 72, Eric Nel 68 71 75, Peetie van der Merwe 73 74 67
215 – Tiaan Diederiks 74 71 70, Tokkie van den Berg 70 71 74
216 – David Rebelo AMA 75 72 69, Werner van Wyk 75 72 69
217 – Paul de Beer 72 72 73, Divan Marais 72 71 74, WM Coetzee AMA 75 70 72, Gianni Pera AMA 70 75 72, Carlo Heunis AMA 73 68 76
218 – Leon Vorster AMA 71 73 74, Quintin Crause 71 72 75, Mark James (ENG) 71 72 75, Shaun van Tonder 77 68 73, Norman Beggs 72 70 76, Paul Boshoff 73 75 70, Zabastian de Jager 79 70 69
219 – Leon Visser 70 73 76, Michael Pfeifer AMA 77 69 73
220 – Angus Ellis-Cole AMA 68 75 77, Evance Vukeya 71 73 76, Jens Hillerman AMA 76 70 74, Andi Dill 73 74 73, Juran Dreyer AMA 75 72 73, David Mofokeng (LSO) 74 73 73, Eric Park (KOR) 74 74 72, Louis Botha 73 76 71
221 – Conway Kunneke 75 68 78, Michael Dreyer 72 73 76, Paul Rodrigues AMA 72 74 75, John Bele 71 75 75
222 – Jaco van der Merwe AMA 74 70 78, Albert Visser 74 72 76, NJ van der Walt AMA 73 74 75, Thabi Ngcobo 75 73 74
223 – Matthew Rossouw AMA 76 73 74
225 – Daniel Joubert 78 71 76, Bryce McCabe 75 74 76
N/R – Matthew Hands AMA 77 72 N/R


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