Local favourite Zander Lombard made a brilliant start to the Race to Q-School #14 on Monday, but fellow Sunshine Tour campaigner Ockert Strydom was hot on his heels at Woodhill Country Club.
On a day where 47 players broke par, the Woodhill golfer rocketed to the top of the pile with an eighth-under-par 64. He leads by one stroke lead over Strydom from Kempton Park, who is hunting a record 12th title on the country’s premier golf development Tour.
Pretoria amateur Dylan Kok also showed some great form in the first round to grab a share of third at five under with Englishman Neil Cheetham, JC Ritchie and rookie Kyle Barker.
Lombard won a fistful of IGT Challenge Tour titles before he joined the paid ranks at the end of 2014 and the 22-year-old was pleased to discover the Race to Q-School series was coming to Woodhill ahead of the Sunshine Tour’s Eye of Africa PGA Championship.
‘We had four weeks off since the BMW SA Open, so the chance to get some game time before next week was great,’ he said. ‘Of course, it’s great that I just have to roll out of bed with a hard bounce and I’m on the first tee. I do have the advantage in that I know the course really well, but the standard of the Race to Q-School series is always really high.
‘At this stage of the game, with only five events left in the series, it gets really competitive out there as the guys vie for the five spots into the final stage of Q-School. So I knew teeing it up this morning that I would have to bring my A-game.’
Lombard stumbled out of the blocks, but recovered quickly and fired nine birdies at his home course.
His opening tee shot rolled up behind a tree and his only option was to chip out and limit the damage to a bogey, but a string of four birdies from the third saw him turn in three under and five more birdies – including a run of three at 15, 16 and 17 – pushed Lombard to the front of the field.
‘I was really solid tee to green,’ he said. ‘The irons worked well and the putter behaved, but I still let a few slip. Still, if they gave me a 64 this morning, I would have taken it and gone back to bed.
‘It’s been really great to come back to the IGT Challenge Tour. I knew the course would test us, because they always push up the degree of difficulty to challenge the guys heading to Q-School. The tees were pushed back and there was a lot of tucked pins, and it was just really nice to dig in and get that rust off with a good competitive round.’
Picture of Lombard courtesy of CJ du Plooy
First Round Scores
All competitors SA unless otherwise specified and amateurs indicated as AMA.
64 – Zander Lombard
65 – Ockert Strydom
67 – Neil Cheetham (ENG), Kyle Barker, JC Ritchie, Dylan Kok AMA
68 – Ruan Botha AMA, Clinton Cheia, Jaco Prinsloo, Danie Van Tonder, Tyrone Ryan, Jonathan Waschefort, Estiaan Conradie, Madalitso Muthiya (ZAM), NJ Arnoldi
69 – Albert Visser AMA, David Ashley (ENG), Shalan Govender, Toto Thimba Jnr, Matthew Spacey, Sam Botham (ENG), Stephan De Beer, Dean O’Riley, Pieter Kruger, Francois Coetzee
70 – Dylan Mostert AMA, Ruhan Van Dijk AMA, Dwayne Coetzee, MJ Viljoen, Michael Kok AMA, Wayne Stroebel, Stefan Labuschagne AMA, Divan Marais, WM Coetzee AMA, Christopher Van der Merwe AMA, Ruan Conradie, Thabang Simon
71 – Pieter Moolman, Stephan Erasmus AMA, Teaghan Gauche, Teagan Moore, Justin Turner, Altaaf Bux, Albert Venter AMA, Marco De Beer AMA, Gerard Du Plooy, Armand Van Dyk AMA
72 – Richard O’Donovan (IRE), John Parkinson, Marcus Smal AMA, Coert Groenewald, Russel Franz, Sipho Bujela, Paul De Beer, Pieter Muller AMA, Fanie Wolmarans AMA, Owen Grobler, Leon Visser AMA, Makhetha Mazibuko, Jacopo Vecchi Fossa (ITA), Phillip Kruse AMA, Conway Kunneke
73 – Quintin Crause, Matthew Hands AMA, Duane Keun, Andrew Odoh (NGA)
74 – Wesley Baptiste, Stuart Smith (BOT), Paul Boshoff, Allister De Kock, Marc De Jager AMA, Richard Kruger AMA, Irvin Mazibuko, Andi Dill, Martin Dewhurst (ENG), Philip Geerts AMA (ITA), Edoardo Torrieri (ITA), Matt Wollmann (ZIM), Omar Sandys, Leorin Pillay, Dylan Morton AMA
75 – Matt Bright, Gideon Pienaar, Gary Daoust (BEL), Andrew Van Der Knaap AMA, Matthew Vogel, CJ Levey, Jason Ackerman AMA, Shane Irwin AMA (IRE), Sam Metcalfe AMA, Ryan Wingrove AMA, Jack Kutumane, Thabi Ngcobo, Bryce Myburgh, Alex Van Heerden AMA, Shaun Barrett AMA
76 – Duan Nagel AMA, Nicol Kromhout AMA, Jason Froneman, Eric Nel AMA, Ruan Korb AMA, Tertius Van Den Berg, Sean Rice AMA
77 – Musiwalo Nethunzwi, Terry Smith
78 – LJ Lowies AMA, Lydon Charnley AMA, Nash De Klerk AMA, CJ du Plessis, Jabulane Mabilane, David Lamprecht, John Bele
79 – Michael Dreyer, Clifford Ndou, Frans Strydom, Marais Visagie, Igor Milicic (SRB)
80 – Darren Gerrard, Neal Herman, Divan Van Der Merwe AMA
81 – Herman Steyn AMA, Hanko Bothma, Reinard Vermeulen AMA, Leon Vorster AMA
82 – Christopher Constantinou AMA, Gareth Anderson AMA, Roelof Van Tonder AMA, Stef Visage, Kyle Beattie AMA, Joshua Leo AMA
83 – Cameron Gunning
87 – Heinrich Stoop AMA