GOLF NEWS - Michael-James Steyn and Maritz Wessels topped a congested leaderboard at State Mines Country Club as they took Route 66 on the opening day of the Big Easy IGT Challenge Tour #5 on Monday.
Steyn set the clubhouse target at six under with loops of 33, but he was joined by former Big Easy Championship winner Wessels in the late afternoon.
The leaders are two shots clear of former Sunshine Tour campaigner Quintin Wilsnach and rookie trio Zabastian de Jager, Jack Duthie and Luan Boshoff.
Ebotse amateur Clinton Duncan birdied three of his last four holes join Nicholaus Frade, Andrew Carlsson and Desne van den Bergh on seven under.
State Mines amateur Francois Blaauw also played himself into contention with a two-under-par 70 and he shares 11th spot with fellow amateur Dino Capazario, Marco de Beer, Gareth Sargent, Mike Maile, Theunis Bezuidenhout and Gary Player School of 2019 member Allister de Kock.
Steyn spent the last two years coaching toddlers at pre-primary schools in the Fourways area, but the Stellenbosch native recently packed it in to devote more time to his career.
Like Steyn, Wessels is also looking at winging his way back onto the Sunshine Tour via the Big Easy IGT Challenge and IGT Challenge Tours.
“I lost my card at the end of 2015, and I haven’t had much luck at the Q-Schools,” said the 31-year-old Waverley resident. “The two development circuits both offer an incentive to the top finishers at the end of season. It’s a chance to bypass Q-School, so it’s a huge opportunity.”
Wessels picked up a trio of birdies in his first four holes and dipped four-under with a birdie 10. He gave a shot back to the field at 11, but recovered quickly with a gain at the par four 12th. An eagle and a birdie either side of a bogey at 17 saw him clock in with a 66.