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Van den Berg moves into share of the lead

van den berg

Tokkie van den Berg boosted his Race to Q-School campaign with a stunning eight-under-par 64 for a share of the second round lead in the 15th event in the IGT Challenge Tour qualifying school prep-series on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old Pretoria golfer fired nine birdies over the testing layout at State Mines and, despite a three-putt bogey from 25 feet at the par three 14th, set the early target at 11-under 133.

Van der Berg had to make space at the top for overnight leader Ben Follett-Smith, though. Errant tee shots put a premium on the Zimbabwean’s short-game, but he scrambled brilliantly and needed just 27 putts for a 70.

The pair will carry a one-ahot advantage into the final round over Bryce Myburgh, who shot 66, and Lesotho’s David Mofokeng, who returned a 68 for a share of third. Peetie van der Merwe, who signed for 71, is a further shot back.

On a day when the weather was kind to Van den Berg and his fellow morning starters, he took advantage in clinical fashion.

Although he left himself short on a few occasions, the Pretoria Country Club player hit 16 greens in regulation. He got off to a fast start with a birdie at the 10th and racked in further gains at 12, 14, 15 and 18, maintaining the momentum with five more birdies down the back nine for loops of 32.

‘I’m over the moon with this round,’ he said. ‘If you’d offered me seven under at the start of the day, I would have ripped your hand off. It’s always a bit disappointing when you play so well, but just one bogey leaves me really happy.

‘I got a little bit lucky out there at 14, where I hit my tee shot deep into the trees. I punched out and chipped it close and boxed the birdie putt. The putter was working well; it was just solid golf, so same again tomorrow please.’

Van den Berg currently sits in eighth position in the IGT Challenge Tour Race to Q-School Order of Merit. With three events left, a win this week would keep him in the top 10 and guarantee a start in the Final Stage of the Sunshine Tour Qualifying School in March.

The HPC TuksGolf Academy player is trying not to get carried away too early, but conceded that watching Follett-Smith fire a 64 in the opening round spurred him on.

‘I’m trying not to be too excited about the prospect of making the top 10, but I’ve been doing the maths in my head and I think I’m going to need three top five finishes to guarantee my top 10 spot,’ he said. ‘When I saw Ben shot 64, I decided to get a more aggressive. I knew I needed a low number in the first round, and you’re not going to do it by playing safe.

‘The greens were absolutely perfect this morning and there wasn’t a breath of wind until we reached the last couple of holes, so I kept attacking. A top three finish this week would definitely go a long way in getting me back on the Sunshine Tour.’

Van der Berg graduated from the country’s premier golf development Tour in 2014, but lost his Sunshine Tour card after his rookie season.

‘I was really devastated, and I packed my clubs away for almost 18 months,’ he said. ‘Then an opportunity arose for me to start playing again. I came back to the IGT Challenge Tour and started from scratch. But I feel good about my game and my head is in a much better space. If I get my card again, I know I can make a better go of it this time around.’

Picture of Van den Berg courtesy of Carl Fourie/Sunshine Ladies Tour

Second Round Scores
All competitors SA unless otherwise specified and amateurs are indicated as AMA:
133 – Tokkie van den Berg 69 64, Benjamin Follett-Smith (ZIM) 63 70
134 – Bryce Myburgh 68 66, David Mofokeng (LSO) 66 68
135 – Peetie van der Merwe 64 71
136 – Jade Buitendag 66 70, Jason Roets 67 69
137 – Kyle Barker 72 65
138 – Jason Rossiter AMA 70 68
139 – Marco de Beer 69 70, Bennie van der Merwe 71 68, Paul Boshoff 67 72
140 – Gilson Filho (BRA) 69 71, Quintin Crause 71 69, Teboho Sefatsa 71 69, Carlo Heunis AMA 66 74, Gary Daoust (BEL) 67 73, Basil Wright 70 70, Pieter Moolman 71 69, Matt Bright 69 71
141 – Mpho Mafishe 72 69, Dean O’Riley 68 73, Richard Joubert 68 73, Tristan Brice AMA 71 70, Anton Haig 73 68, Roberto Lupini 72 69
142 – Matthew Vogel 70 72, Eric Park (KOR) 70 72, Philip Geerts (ITA) 65 77
143 – Dylan Mostert AMA 70 73, Juan Langeveld 70 73
144 – James Pennington (SWA) 71 73, Andi Dill 72 72, Shaun van Tonder 68 76, Tristen Strydom 72 72, Phillip Kruse AMA 70 74, Scott Chambers AMA 74 70, John Bele 67 77, Hendrikus Stoop AMA 70 74
145 – Wayne Stroebel 74 71, Bradley Diggeden AMA 71 74, Jaco van der Merwe AMA 71 74, Matthew Rushton 73 72, WM Coetzee AMA 72 73
146 – Alrich Labuschagne 74 72, Steven Lecuyer (CAN) 75 71, Leon Vorster AMA 76 70, Jack Duthie 75 71, Michael Schutz 75 71, Zabastian de Jager 73 73
147 – Thabi Ngcobo 75 72, Dylan Docherty 74 73, Luke Brown AMA 71 76, Jadrick Fourie AMA 78 69, Michael Pfeifer AMA 80 67
148 – Andrew Plint AMA 73 75, Albert Visser 73 75, Werner van Wyk 74 74
149 – Bradley van Biljon AMA 73 76, Banele Motloung AMA 76 73, Deon Bredenkamp 77 72, Brandon Lydon AMA 70 79, Michael van Rooyen 78 71, Ryan Woolley AMA 78 71
Missed the cut:-
150 – Christopher van der Merwe AMA 78 72, Morne du Plessis 77 73, Tiaan Diederiks 74 76, Eric Nel 76 74
151 – Jens Hillerman AMA 78 73, Ruan Korb 75 76, Francois Blaauw AMA 74 77, Divan Marais 74 77, JP Rousseau AMA 74 77, Michael Dreyer 80 71
152 – Leon Visser 77 75, Angus Ellis-Cole AMA 76 76, Alwyn Smith AMA 74 78, Dewald Stander 74 78
153 – Daniel Joubert 78 75, Paul Colditz 75 78, Stephan de Beer 75 78, Aneel Kallan AMA 75 78
154 – Jason Ackerman AMA 81 73, Nic Watson 76 78
155 – Louis Botha 75 80
156 – Chase Paton AMA 79 77, Paul de Beer 79 77
157 – Allan Jirek AMA (CZ) 78 79, Sam Metcalfe AMA 80 77, Stephen Forsyth AMA 78 79
159 – Neville Mitchell AMA 79 80, Nqobani Ndabambi 76 83
161 – Andrej Skrbinsek AMA 84 77, Donald Makhafola AMA 81 80
168 – Adam Cooper 84 84
173 – Phillip De Waal 93 80
RTD – John McClean (NIR) RTD


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