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14th July 2022 | Big Easy Tour

Pepler in slender lead ahead of final round in Soweto

Gerhard Pepler fired in a second-round two-under-par 70 on Wednesday to take a one-stroke lead into the final round of the Altron Big Easy Tour event held at Soweto Country Club in Pimville.

“Top of the leaderboard before the final round feels better than playing to make the cut every week,” said Pepler who has now relocated from Limpopo to Serengeti Golf and Wildlife Estates. “but I will not change my game tomorrow; I started this week playing aggressively and attacking most flags and it seems to have worked, so there will be no change in strategy.”

A faulty start saw him drop on the first hole but Pepler recovered with a par on the second before birdieing the third. He made another par on the fourth before making his second birdie on the front stretch – this time on the fifth. After four straight pars, Pepler found another birdie on the 10th and another on the 12th. His only drop on the homeward stretch came on the 15th hole but Pepler had already done enough to seal a round of 70 to assume the top position ahead of the final round.

“This course is tough because you must hit the greens in regulation,” added Pepler of how he intends to approach the final round. “You can hit driver everywhere but you must stay in the fairway, that helps. You also need to make your putts, of course, but you always need to keep it in play.

“Closer to the end of the round, I might want to play a little bit defensive but that’s not going to be my thinking at the beginning. I’ve been attacking the whole week and when I tried to play defensive, I seemed to make a lot of mistakes, so it’s going to be an all-out attack in the beginning and we’ll see how the round goes and if I must change to defence.”

He leads Ryan Tipping by a single stroke, with the veteran Tipping still harbouring the memories of his loss to Franklin Manchest here in April last year.

“The front nine is a lot tougher than the back and I was pleased with nine straight pars there,” said Tipping, “My goal was to get through there level-par or minus one and have a go at the back nine. I think did what I went out to do.”

Members of the Papwa Sewgolum Class of 2022/23 Musiwalo Nethunzwi – a member here – and Makhetha Mazibuko will feel they have a shot at glory in Soweto. They are tied fourth on four-under and just two shots back after 36 holes.

“This is my home course and I always have a few holes where I know I will make a birdie or two,” said Nethunzwi ahead of the final round. “I don’t mind chasing because it challenges my mental strength.”

This is the seventh of 10 Altron Big Easy Tour tournaments scheduled for this season, with six different winners already crowned champions, including two amateurs from the GolfRSA National Elite Squad.

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.