Dainfern golfer Matthew Spacey equalled his season’s best round at Eagle Canyon Golf Estate to open up a one-shot lead in the 13th Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour event.
The 27-year-old went into the day five shots behind joint leaders Juran Dreyer and Stuart Smith after opening with a two-under 70, but he birdied three of the first five holes to hit the front.
Spacey collected a fourth birdie at the seventh but gave it back at eight to turn five-under. A brace of birdies at 13 and 14 saw him sign for a five-under-par 67 and the overall lead on eight-under 137.
‘The wind blew really hard today, which explains the scores,’ Spacey said. ‘I made a solid par to start with. I hit driver, 5-iron at the par five and two-putted for birdie to get the round going. On the fourth hole, I hit a wedge to the middle of the green and holed a 35-footer to go two-under.’
Spacey hit a 4-iron just short of the green at the par five fifth and got up-and-down for birdie.
‘I hit lob-wedge into seven and holed a five-footer,’ he said. ‘I was a little irritated when I three-putted the eighth, though, after playing the first seven holes really well in the strong wind.
‘I played really solid. I hit every green on the front nine and only missed one green on the back nine in some tough conditions. The putting was okay, but I needed a few more to drop. I’m hitting it very nicely and hopefully I putt just a little better on Wednesday. It should be a good test.’
The former IGT Challenge Tour winner graduated the country’s premier golf development circuit in 2017, but lost his Sunshine Tour card at the end of his rookie season.
‘It was a tough year, but the whole experience was really good,’ said Spacey. ‘The learning curve was enormous. I realised I needed to get a lot tougher mentally to survive and that’s why I invested a lot in my mental game this year.
‘In retrospect it was a really good thing that I lost my card. The Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour is my way back to the Sunshine Tour. I’ve worked really hard with my coaches at the HPC Tuks Golf Academy and in particular with sport psychologist Theo Bezuidenhout on toughening up the mental side of my game.
‘The last few weeks I’ve produced some good scores for three rounds and I feel a lot more positive and confident about my game. I have this week and three more tournaments to make sure I finish in the top 10 in the Road to Sunshine Tour to get my card back, so if I can produce a good round and win tomorrow, I’ll be inside the top 10. That’s where I want to be.’
To lift the trophy, Spacey will have to stave off the challenges of his nearest pursuers.
Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour winners Dreyer, Smith and Cameron Moralee are just one shot adrift on 138. Dreyer, who won last week at The Lake Club Benoni, and Smith from Botswana posted rounds of 73, while Moralee carded 72.
Second Round Scores
All competitors SA unless stated; amateurs AMA
137 – Matthew Spacey (70 67)
138 – Stuart Smith (BOT) (65 73), Juran Dreyer (65 73), Cameron Moralee (66 72)
139 – Tristen Strydom (69 70)
140 – Kyle Barker (66 74), Hayden Griffiths (68 72)
141 – Leon Vorster (73 68), Michiel Bothma (71 70), Paul Boshoff (71 70), Matthew Rossouw AMA (70 71)
142 – Gianni Pera AMA (70 72), Daniel Hammond (71 71), Andrew Carlsson (70 72), Coert Groenewald (71 71), Harry Konig (ENG) (72 70), Stefan Wears-Taylor (72 70), Dylan Kok (72 70), Richard Joubert (71 71)
Photo: Cameron Moralee, by CJ du Plooy