Birdie surge sees Conradie in contention in Finland

Aug 5, 2021 | Featured, South Africans abroad

Ruan Conradie has grabbed his chance to play in Europe with both hands, and it showed with his opening round of seven-under-par 65 on Thursday in the Challenge Tour’s Vierumäki Finnish Challenge at Vierumäki Resort in Finland.

The man who turns 26 in three days has won once on the Sunshine Tour, and he recorded bis best finish on the Challenge Tour in his first outing on it outside South Africa with a share of 14th in the Italian Challenge at the end of July.

He made eight birdies and a bogey in the first round in Finland, and four of those birdies came around the turn as he moved into a share of sixth place behind the leader Marcus Helligkilde of Denmark, who carded a remarkable 11-under-par 61. The Dane had a three-stroke lead over four players, and then came Conradie and four other players on seven-under.

Conradie started his round with a birdie on the 10th, but he made his bogey on the par-four 11th. He recovered that lost shot immediately with a birdie on 12, and then came his birdie blitz as he rapidly climbed the leaderboard into contention. He made four on succession on 16, 17, 18 and one, and then picked up two more on six and seven.

“My iron play was spot on today and it just gave me so much confidence throughout the round that it felt like stress-free golf from start to finish,” he said.

Of the three other South Africans in the field, Martin Rohwer fared best with his three-under 69 with four birdies and a bogey putting him in a share of 43rd. Merrick Bremner and Hennie du Plessis both had tough starts and were three-over after the first round.

Conradie currently finds himself in 80th position on the Challenge Tour rankings after four tournaments, and he knows that a good European campaign can help him in his goal to earn a European Tour card.

He is warming well to the task: “Being away from my loved ones for a while is something I still struggle with sometimes,” he said, “but at least I can work around it and plan my trips accordingly. It’s great that they are so supportive so it makes it easier when I’m abroad.

“I’ll be here until after the second event of Denmark around the 20th of August and then I’ll come back to South Africa for a bit.”

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