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17th April 2018 | Big Easy Tour

Barker blows to front in Big Easy IGT

By Lali Stander

Less than a fortnight since he bagged a third victory on the IGT Challenge Tour, Kyle Barker was in ascendancy again as the new Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour launched in Tshwane on Monday.

Buoyed by a run of good form, the 20-year-old Randpark golfer made the most of the sunny and windless conditions to fire an impressive seven-under-par 65 in the opening round to finish at the top of the pile at Silver Lakes Country Club.

Gert Myburgh and Matthew Rushton took route 66 to a tie for second, while former SA Open Freddie Taite Trophy winner Cameron Moralee carded a four-under-par 68 to tie for fourth in his pro debut with fellow rookie Arno Pretorius.

Six more first-timers, including Dylan Mostert, Ruan Groenewald, Ruhan van Dijk, Juran Dreyer, Marco de Beer and Dylan Kok grabbed a seat on the bus at three-under alongside three-time Sunshine Tour winner Michiel Bothma, aiming to play his way back on the main circuit via the new golf development series.

Barker was five under through the first five holes, courtesy of an eagle at the par five second and three birdies on the bounce.

“I got off to a flying start,” said the Golf-Worx Academy player. “They’ve had a lot of rain in the area and the course was playing quite a bit longer than usual, but that worked to my advantage.

“I hit a perfect drive down the second short of the tree in the middle of the fairway and hooked a low 3-wood into the green. I drained a 20-footer for eagle and boxed three putts under 12 foot to get to five under. I made another solid birdie at the par five (seven), but I drove it in the water at eight. Made a really good five after the penalty drop, though.”

After five straight pars from 10, he boxed another 12 footer for birdie at 15 and just missed out on an eagle at the closing hole.

“I missed a short putt at the first par five (14), and left my eagle putt at 18 in the throat, but I was hoping to get myself in the mix early on, so I’m pleased with the start,” said Barker.

“Every guy who teed it up at Silver Lakes this week is looking for the same thing. We have 15 events to play ourselves into the top 10, pass go, avoid Q-School and collect a Sunshine Tour card. That comes with huge pressure, but I love it. There’s still a lot of golf to come and a lot of really good golfers on my tail, but I’m where I wanted to be. Now I just have to keep it going.”