2nd August 2016 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Park pushes in front at Ebotse Challenge
It must be something in the water on the East Rand, because it seems that Carrie Park always saves her best golf for Ekurhuleni. Just a few months ago, the pintsized rookie shared the 36-hole lead in the ERPM Challenge in Boksburg. Today, Park fired a flawless five under 67 to leapfrog first round pacesetter Duane Kean for the outright lead in round two of the IGT Tourâ€™s Ebotse Challenge in Benoni.
The Sunshine Ladies Tour campaigner moved to two-under-par 142 and she will start the final round with a one shot cushion over Keun, who returned a 74.
Local pro Brandon Pieters rallied with a 68 after opening with a frustrating 76 to join Pretoria amateur Philip Kruse (71) at even-par 144, while Ebotse junior Jayden Schaper and Benoni Lake pro Pieter Moolman matched each other with 73s to finish a further stroke adrift in joint fifth with yet another local, Dean Oâ€™Riley (71), and amateur Etienne Janse van Rensburg.
While her first round scorecard was marred by a triple and two bogeys, Park made the best of the sunny weather on day two. She turned two under after birdies at one and nine and dipped five under par with further gains at 13, 15 and 18.
â€œI would have to say that the biggest difference was the weather,â€ said Park.
â€œWe played in freezing temperatures in the first round and the wind was absolutely howling. It was at least a three-club wind and although I barely missed a fairway, it made club selection into the greens really tough.
â€œThis course is extremely tight and it has so many slopes, so accuracy and consistency is key to scoring here. Today I hit all the fairways and almost every green in regulation and I got a couple of putts to drop.â€
The South Korean player was one of the first female golfers to start campaigning on the countryâ€™s premier development circuit three years ago.
She did all her preparation for her pro debut on the unisex Tour and once the Sunshine Ladies Tour wrapped up in March, Park returned to the IGT Tour and she has been laying the groundwork for a maiden breakthrough ever since. In addition to a second place finish at the ERPM Challenge and third in the Houghton Challenge, the GFG Academy player has top five finishes in three other events since May and she has only finished outside the top 20 once.
Park is heading to the United States in two weeks with Nobuhle Dlamini and Francesca Cuturi to compete in the first stage of the LPGA Tour Qualifying School later this month. Another solid finish will go a long way in building her confidence for golfâ€™s most gruelling test.
â€œGoing to Q-School is a massive expense,â€ Park said â€œThe entry fee alone is R40,000 and I estimate spending about R100K with the travel, accommodation, practice rounds and so on. I definitely want to be at my best when I play Mission Hills.
â€œIâ€™ve always been pretty straight off the tee, but Iâ€™ve worked really hard the last five months to gain more distance and to improve my putting. Iâ€™m pleased with the results, but there is always room for improvement.â€
Park dominated the South African amateur scene and the former Sanlam SA Amateur Match Play and Stroke Play champion was ranked number one in the country when she turned pro last year.
â€œMy game has come on in leaps and bounds since last November,â€ Park said. â€œMy game has matured a lot and I gained a lot of experience from playing with the likes of Bertine (Strauss), Ashleigh (Simon) and Lee-Anne (Pace) on the Sunshine Ladies Tour in the summer. Iâ€™ve also learned a lot from competing against the guys on the IGT Tour because men approach the game differently. I like to watch how they approach the hole and how they get themselves out of trouble and apply that to my own game.â€
If Park succeeds on Wednesday, she will become the first female champion on the IGT Tour since the tour launched in 2010.
â€œWow, talk about pressure,â€ she laughed. â€œSeriously, Iâ€™m not focussed on that. I just want to hit every fairway and green, because in the long run, accuracy and consistency wins you tournaments.â€
SECOND ROUND SCORESÂ (Top 20)
All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified and amateurs are indicated as AMA:
142Â -Â Carrie ParkÂ 75 67
143Â -Â Duane KeunÂ 69 74
144Â -Â Brandon PietersÂ 76 68, Phillip Kruse AMAÂ 73 71
145Â -Â Pieter MoolmanÂ 72 73, Jayden Schaper AMAÂ 72 73, Etienne Janse van Rensburg AMAÂ 75 70, Dean O’RileyÂ 74 71
146Â -Â Gregg Blainey (ENG)Â 74 72, Wesley Baptiste AMAÂ 76 70, Nicole GarciaÂ 73 73, Simon KrugerÂ 74 72
147Â -Â Jonathan WaschefortÂ 77 70, Coert GroenewaldÂ 76 71
149Â -Â Martin RohwerÂ 75 74, Terence BoardmanÂ 76 73, Hilton Hughes AMAÂ 73 76
150Â -Â Armand van Dyk AMAÂ 76 74
151Â -Â Matt BrightÂ 81 70, Ivanna Samu AMAÂ 77 74, Tristen Strydom AMAÂ 77 74, Teagan MooreÂ 76 75