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Golf | SA

Matthew Rushton © CJ du Plooy

Rushton races to front in Centurion



Former Notre Dame star Matthew Rushton fired a flawless seven-under 65 to fly past first round leader Estiaan Conradie and set a testing clubhouse target for the chasing pack in the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour #6 on Tuesday.

The Cape Town golfer Rushton fired three birdies on the front nine and racked up four more down the back stretch at Centurion Country Club to get to nine-under.

He leads by two from Conradie, who mixed two double bogeys and a further drop at 12 with six birdies on his way to a 71.

Matt Bright stayed on course for back-to-back titles on the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour with a one-under 71. The 24-year-old carded a 71 to join Dylan Kok, Jason Roets and amateur Christopher van der Merwe at six under.

Heinrich Bruiners teed off in the morning field and hit the front with three birdies on the bounce from the eighth.

The Gary Player School of 2018 member, who posted his third runner-up finish this season last week, relinquished his advantage with a double bogey at 12 and a bogey-bogey finish. A round of 71 will see Bruiners start the final round off the pace in joint seventh with Neil Herman.

Rushton started the second round four shots behind Conradie after carding 70 in the first round.

He made a birdie start at the opening par five, birdied the fourth and made four at the second par five to turn three-under.

“I hit two shots exactly as planned at the fourth and rolled in a six-footer for birdie,” said the 24-year-old from Vredehoek in Cape Town. “I had to get a bit more creative with the birdie at seven, though.

“I left my second short of the green and my pitch shot went 20 feet long, but I managed to box the tricky downhill putt for four.

“I birdied the next par five, 12 to get to six-under for the tournament. In the first round, I holed my second shot for eagle at 14, so I had good vibes on this hole and I nearly eagled it again. My wedge-shot pitched close, but it finished eight feet from the hole. I put a good stroke on the ball and got the birdie.”

Rushton finished with back-to-back birdies after executing a great par-save at 16 to keep his clean.

“That par-save at 16 was pretty key to my round,” said the Erinvale golfer. “At 17, I hit another good wedge into the green just right of the pin and holed the putt. I hit three-wood into 18 and finished on the front right and had a bit of a roller-coaster putt, but I got it two foot and boxed the birdie putt.

“It was the kind of day where my ball striking was good and the short game and putter all worked together really well. I am pleased to be in front and in contention, because I felt last week at Killarney the game was starting to feel more solid. Strategy for the final round will be to play the course, and stay in the moment; take it shot-by-shot.”

Rushton had an outstanding record over his four years at the University of Notre Dame Du Lac in Indiana.

In his final season, 16 of his 19 competitive rounds score towards the team total and he enjoyed three top-five finishes and two in the top-25. He graduated as their top finisher at both the USF Olympic Intercollegiate and the ACC Championship.

“I decided to come home, having spent eight years in the United States,” said Rushton. “Going the mini-tour route in the US is very expensive and we have two very good, competitive circuits right here on home soil.

“For four years I played at the top level against the best college golfers in America. The standard of competition on the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour is just as good as in the USA and, as a development circuit, it does exactly what it’s meant to do.

“I am so appreciative of the fact that I can gain experience and hone my game here at home. I played on invitations on the Sunshine Tour last year was very enlightening. There are a lot of guys with the game to compete, but we lack the mental fortitude. Right here is where you foster a belief in yourself and it’s fantastic that we don’t have to travel abroad for this experience.

“Keeping a positive mind set is important. I try to avoid the pitfalls, like complaining about the weather, the course set-up or the conditions, because that’s detrimental to the game. After all, this is the profession we chose and we need to play it as it lies.”

SECOND-ROUND SCORES

All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified; amateurs indicated as AMA

135 - Matthew Rushton 70 65

137 - Estiaan Conradie 66 71

138 - Jason Roets 68 70, Dylan Kok 70 68, Matt Bright 67 71, Christopher van der Merwe AMA 67 71

139 - Heinrich Bruiners 68 71, Neal Herman 68 71

140 - Ryan Tipping 70 70, Thriston Lawrence 68 72, Stefan Wears-Taylor 68 72

141 - Conway Kunneke 71 70, Makhetha Mazibuko 70 71, Jason Diab 70 71, Stals Swart AMA 69 72, Neil Cheetham (ENG) 69 72, Anton Haig 73 68, Ruan Korb 70 71

142 - Hayden Griffiths 71 71, Michiel Bothma 74 68

143 - Peetie van der Merwe 71 72, Matthew Spacey 68 75, Eric Nel 74 69, Gianni Pera AMA 71 72

144 - Thabiso Ngcobo 72 72, Romano Saincic 74 70, Hendrikus Stoop 72 72, Arno Pretorius 74 70, Jade Buitendag 72 72, Sean Bradley 71 73

145 - Teboho Sefatsa 74 71, Pieter Moolman 75 70, David Rebelo 69 76, Jonathan Waschefort 69 76, Quintin Crause 69 76, Kyle Barker 72 73, Louis Albertse 71 74, Dylan Mostert 69 76, Dwayne Basson 73 72, Dongkwan Kim (KOR) 73 72, Matthew Rossouw AMA 72 73

MISSED THE CUT

146 - David McIntyre 73 73, Stuart Smith (BOT) 70 76, Caylum Boon AMA 74 72, Keaton Slatter 75 71

147 - Derick Petersen 74 73, CJ du Plessis 73 74, Basil Wright 74 73, Dayne Moore (ZAM) 73 74, Marco de Beer 77 70, Phumlani Maluka 75 72, Leon Visser 77 70, Andrew Carlsson 74 73, Otto van Buynder AMA 78 69

148 - Roberto Lupini 74 74, Divan Gerber 71 77, Armand van Dyk AMA 75 73, Maritz Wessels 75 73

149 - Jason Rossiter 73 76, Wayne Stroebel 73 76, Drikus van der Walt 73 76

150 - Daniel Hammond 73 77, Duane Keun 75 75, Coert Groenewald 72 78, Jabulane Mabilane 74 76, Allister de Kock 78 72, Neville Mitchell AMA 75 75

151 - Jason Smith 77 74, Jeff Inglis (ENG) 79 72, Andrew Plint AMA 78 73, Bryce Myburgh 74 77, Shalan Govender 78 73, Adam Baker 76 75

152 - Luke Brown 74 78, Thabang Simon 78 74, Ricardo Towell 76 76

153 - Arthur Horne (SWZ) 74 79, Irvin Mazibuko 75 78, Ruan Groenewald 76 77, Theunis Bezuidenhout 73 80

154 - Michael Kok 81 73, Neezy Thubisi 76 78, Marthin Scheepers 79 75

155 - Yubin Jung 79 76, Stephan Erasmus 83 72, Dylan Docherty 76 79, Albert Visser 75 80

156 - Juran Dreyer 80 76, John McClean (NIR) 77 79, Jaco van der Merwe AMA 79 77, Gary Daoust (BEL) 79 77, Tumelo Molloyi 78 78, Keelan Africa 82 74, Tertius van den Berg 82 74

158 - Jason Viljoen 75 83, Alwyn Smith 82 76

159 - Michael-James Steyn 77 82, Nico du Buisson 77 82

160 - Michael Dreyer 76 84, Adriel Poonan 80 80

161 - Paulo Serrao (POR) 85 76, Chandler Shaw AMA 84 77

162 - Christiaan Pretorius 81 81

163 - Jesse Jacobs AMA 85 78

165 - Nicklas van Wyk AMA 77 88

168 - Warric Dyers 84 84

WDN - Chase Paton AMA 83 WDN

DSQ - CJ Levey



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