Van der Bergh in pole position for second Big Easy IGT win in Soweto
SOWETO – Vaal de Grace golfer Desne van der Bergh fired a second round four-under 68 to open up a two-shot lead at the Big Easy IGT Challenge #18 at Soweto Country Club on Tuesday.
In second is overnight leader Karl Ochse of Stellenbosch Golf Club on eight-under after a second round 71, with Malcom Mitchell of Kloof Country Club a further stroke adrift in third after a 70 on day two.
Ekurhuleni rookie Angus Ellis-Cole fired 67 to move to fourth on five-under, one shot clear of Swiss golfer Neal Woernhard of Switzerland and two ahead of former Sunshine Tour winner Ruan de Smidt of Krugersdorp Golf Club on three-under.
The 29-year-old Van der Bergh first joined the winners’ circle with a triumph at Centurion Country Club in the eighth event on the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour in July.
The top six ranked players at the end of the season finale at the end of November will earn their cards for the Sunshine Tour next season, while the top three players on the Road to Sunshine Tour Transformation Order of Merit will earn their cards at the conclusion of the Soweto event.
Van Der Bergh came into the week in sixth position on the Road to Sunshine Tour and with just the Tour finale remaining after this event, a win would go a long way in getting Van den Bergh back on the main circuit. But being on the verge will also mean increased pressure, if the cauldron of vying for bragging honours in Soweto was not enough.
“You try to forget about the Order of Merit position, but it’s always there. I’m just going to go out and play the final round and see how well I can do,” said Van der Bergh. “I think it will be good for my confidence going into the tour champs because I want to finish top six. I think with a victory I’m one step closer to that. I think it would mean a lot of opportunities to play.”
Starting on the 10th, Van der Bergh’s round included four birdies in his first six holes.
“I started off well, hit it right off the tee on 10 and recovered well with a punch shot and I got it up and down for birdie and I think that set the tone for the day,” said Van der Bergh.
“I made three quick birdies, but on 17 I hit a nine-iron on the par three which led to a double. And it was my only five on the card.
“I’m driving the ball well and that’s key around this course. The greens are a bit slow because they’re new so you can be aggressive, but it’s tough to get it to the hole on the long putts.”
As for Soweto Country Club, which is a new stop on the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour, Van der Bergh said it was an excellent addition.
“It’s a very good course. There’s some nice bunkering. The greens are slow but they’re firm, so they’re good,” he said.
Meanwhile, Allister de Kock strengthened his position at the top of the Transformation Order of Merit.
The Gary Player Class of 2019 member rallied after an opening 78 with a 67 that shot him to joint 15th on one-over 145. With a lead of just under R 2,000 over second-placed Dwayne Basson, the Uitenhage could cement the number one spot with a solid final round performance.
Second round scores
134 - Desne van den Bergh 66 68
136 - Karl Ochse 65 71
137 - Malcolm Mitchell 67 70
139 - Angus Ellis-Cole 72 67
140 - Neal Woernhard (SUI) 68 72
141 - Ruan de Smidt 72 69
142 - Theunis Bezuidenhout 71 71, Hendrikus Stoop 73 69, Jason Froneman 70 72, Clayton Mansfield 70 72, Richard Joubert 72 70
143 - Morne Buys 72 71
144 - Yubin Jung 72 72, Jason Rossiter 74 70
145 - Allister de Kock 78 67, Gideon van der Vyver 73 72, Jack Duthie 73 72, Thabang Simon 74 71, John McClean (NIR) 73 72, CJ Levey 73 72
146 - Zabastian de Jager 73 73, Sipho Bujela 75 71, Darin de Smidt 74 72, Dylan Naidoo 77 69, Jason Smith 73 73, Alpheus Kelapile 74 72
147 - Reinhardt Blaauw 75 72, Mike Maile 73 74, Marthin Scheepers 75 72, Ruan Korb 71 76, Hennie O'Kennedy 75 72, Matt Saulez 74 73, Aubrey Beckley 72 75, Carlo Heunis 73 74
African News Agency (ANA)