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15th June 2022 | Big Easy Tour

McKay clinches play-off win at Reading

It took a birdie on the first playoff hole for Gregory McKay to claim his maiden Altron Big Easy Tour title after he and Gerhard Pepler shared the top position on four-under after regulation at Reading Country Club on Wednesday.

“The second round was where it started for me,” McKay recalled. “I started off with a triple to start my day and I was two-over for the event but that sort of galvanised me and I went with the mentality that I might as well try to make birdies even though the wind really came up yesterday.

“Going into the third round, it was very much a case of staying in my own lane, but it was very cold this morning during the last round. But, I managed to just hang in there and I managed to make a couple of birdies around the back nine.”

The third round was always going to be an interesting affair with overnight leader Ricky Hendler, Robertson Golf Club member Jacquin Hess and Pepler all going for glory. Trailing Hendler by eight shots at the start of the third round, McKay had it all to do in Alberton on Wednesday and he didn’t disappoint.

While he didn’t have anything to lose in round three, McKay was meticulous in his methods and that yielded a level-par 36 on the front nine. He made one bogey (on the first hole) and a solitary birdie (on seven) in his first nine holes. Then, on the 10th, he made further gains, walking away with a birdie there. A double-bogey followed on 11 but those losses were soon recovered as McKay made back-to-back birdies from the 12th through to the 14th.

He held things together in the next three holes, making good up-an-downs on 16 and 17 to save par but dropped on 18. At four-under for the week, he was in the play-off with Pepler.

“I just really trusted myself and that’s been the biggest thing for me in the last nine to 12 months,” added McKay, “today I hit a great putt on 18 (in regulation) but there was nothing more I could do when it didn’t go in. On the playoff hole, I hit the same club but slightly closer; perfect yardage, and I said to myself ‘it’s a play-off, we might as well try to go for birdie. If we lose to a birdie, it’s alright. That was the mentality.”

McKay went on to praise the Altron Big Easy Tour title sponsors, Altron, for investing in the local game, adding that the Tour provides the perfect platform for young players to launch their professional golfing careers.

The Big Easy Tour was founded in 2011 with support from Ernie Els and counts current international star Christiaan Bezuidenhout among its former Order of Merit winners.