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First IGT Tour win for Arnoldi at Centurion

A healthy dose of patience and a hot putter helped NJ Arnoldi seal a wire-to-wire victory on the IGT Tour with a commanding performance on the back nine of the Race to Q-School #9 at Centurion Country Club on Wednesday.

Smarting after a playoff loss in last week’s Race to Q-School #8, the Silver Lakes pro fired rounds of 63, 66 and 70 to capture the ninth tournament in the 18-event series for his first win on the country’s premier golf development circuit this season.

‘This feels so great,’ said the Tshwane golfer, who triumphed by three shots on a 17-under-par total. ‘It’s been a long while since the last one. I definitely had a few scary moments at the start, but the putter was hot from start to finish and I knew if I could keep my nose in front, I could pull it through.’

Arnoldi had a lone bogey in his first two rounds, but swing trouble over the first seven holes in the final round saw him rack up four bogeys that ate away at his four-shot lead. But he held his frustration in check and his patience won the day.

‘The first seven holes were hugely frustrating, because I was striking the ball as well as the first two days, but I kept hitting it left or right,’ he said.

‘I knew if I could figure out what was wrong, I could turn it around, so I just kept grinding. Thanks to birdies at 10 and 13, I stayed in the mix. Then I birdied 17 and I realised that my swing sequence was out.

‘I hit a good tee shot down the 18th and made par to turn one over and some more solid drives at the first four holes on the back nine gave me some momentum. I knew the problem was sorted.’

Arnoldi cruised through a flawless back nine and picked up three birdies along the way at the fifth, seventh and ninth. ‘Even with a four-shot overnight lead, I expected to have a big job on my hands, because the course yielded a lot of low scores in the first two rounds,’ he said.

‘But they saved the toughest pins for the last round and they really stretched the course. No one was making a strong run and that gave me the chance to figure out the swing problem. I swear I could hear my coach in my head, saying “Patience, NJ, patience”.

‘Luckily the putter was hot from start to finish and even when I was in the wrong areas, I could cosy it up to two or three feet. I’m most happy about the fact that I didn’t drop a shot down the back nine.’

The start-to-finish victory has given Arnoldi a welcome boost of confidence ahead of his trip to the First Stage of Asian Tour’s Qualifying School early in the new year.

‘It feels incredibly good to show my sponsors that their support and faith in me is justified,’ he said. ‘I am so grateful to the SA Hall of Fame, Titleist and Rudy Project for their backing and just really happy to show them that I’m worth the investment. And I owe a huge debt of gratitude to coach John Dixon and my workout guru Garth Milne: you guys are the best.’

Benoni’s Dean O’Riley closed with a 69 to seal a runner-up finish at 202, while Wingate Park golfer Fanie Wolmarans carded a 72 to edge out Matthew Spacey and fellow amateur Ruan Korb by one shot for sole third at 205.

Picture of Arnoldi courtesy of CJ du Plooy

Final result
(All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified and amateurs indicated as AMA)
199 – NJ Arnoldi 63 66 70
202 – Dean O’Riley 68 65 69
205 – Fanie Wolmarans AMA 68 65 72
206 – Matthew Spacey 70 68 68, Ruan Korb AMA 68 69 69
207 – Jacques de Villiers 69 68 70
208 – Conway Kunneke 68 70 70
209 – Martin Rohwer 70 69 70, Coert Groenewald 65 72 72, Malcolm Mitchell AMA 70 65 74
210 – Gary Daoust (BEL) 71 69 70, Luke Trocado 70 70 70, Peetie van der Merwe AMA 70 68 72, Matt Saulez AMA 71 67 72, Andrew van der Knaap AMA 71 67 72
211 – John McClean (NIR) 70 72 69, Altaaf Bux 69 71 71, Pieter Moolman 70 69 72, David Ashley (ENG) 70 68 73, Clayton Mansfield AMA 67 68 76
213 – Brendan Britten (NAM) 72 70 71, Jonathan Waschefort 73 68 72, Bryce Myburgh 70 71 72, Stephan Erasmus AMA 74 69 70, Paul de Beer 70 74 69, Gregg Blainey (ENG) 68 69 76
214 – Kyle Barker 74 68 72, Wayne Stroebel 71 72 71, Stephan de Beer 76 70 68
215 – Richard O’Donovan (IRE) 73 73 69, Divan Marais 71 70 74, Luke Mayo AMA 71 71 73, David Nortje AMA 72 71 72, Gareth Anderson AMA 71 68 76
216 – Juan Swart 75 69 72, Marc de Jager AMA 69 70 77
217 – Michael Kok AMA 69 70 78, Stephen du Plessis AMA 69 70 78, Andrew Carlsson AMA 71 73 73, Werner van Wyk 72 73 72, Andi Dill 74 71 72, Estiaan Conradie AMA 71 71 75
219 – Alex van Heerden AMA 68 74 77, Philip Geerts AMA (ITA) 71 75 73, Duane Keun 76 71 72, Keelan van Wyk AMA 74 74 71
220 – Shaun Barrett AMA 71 73 76
221 – Teagan Moore 73 73 75, Tom Watson AMA 73 73 75, Leon Vorster AMA 73 74 74, Dylan Docherty 76 72 73
223 – Christian Basson AMA 71 75 77
225 – Dwayne Coetzee 74 75 76
226 – Michael van Rooyen 77 72 77
227 – Ruan Conradie AMA 76 70 81
228 – WM Coetzee AMA 72 77 79
229 – Thabi Ngcobo AMA 74 74 81
230 – Cameron Gunning 73 74 83
WDN – Thabang Simon 73 69 WDN, Damian Naicker 68 70 WDN
RTD – CJ Levey 74 72 RTD, Armand van Dyk AMA 78 71 RTD


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