23rd February 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

SA Women’s Masters heading for showdown

Breezy conditions made for difficult scoring at San Lameer Country Club, but Germany’s Laura Fuenfstueck put together a well-constructed 69 to top the second round leaderboard in the SA Women’s Masters on Friday.

The 23-year-old Fuenfstueck opened up a two shot cushion on five-under 139 over Scottish amateur Gemma Batty and she finished three strokes clear of South African duo Lejan Lewthwaite and Melissa Eaton.

The Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie was not alone in struggling in the wind.

Only 12 players in the field of 78 managed to break par and just seven finished in red numbers, but Fuenfstueck knows she is in a strong position heading into the last day.

“The day started nicely again, but the wind came up and it makes a big difference to this course,” she said. “I hit all the fairways and I positioned myself really well into the greens. But you’re hitting it uphill and downhill on uneven lies and the course is so tight.

“You have to keep it in play to score and it’s tough to do in the wind. I did make some great decisions with my club selection and I putted really well. The wind makes it really difficult, though, to get near the pins. I had a poor finish, but the closing holes are really tough. Even pars feel like a birdies.”

Fuenfstueck travelled to South Africa to gain competitive experience on the Sunshine Ladies Tour before she starts her season on the Ladies European Tour (LET) and LET Access Series.

“I started at the Canon Ladies Tshwane Open and tied for 23rd, and last week I finished 10th in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am. Now I’m in the lead and we’ll see where I finish. I’m just really happy with how much my game has improved and how much I’ve learned.”

Batty carded a two-under 70 and was over the moon to find herself in second place after 36 holes.

“I never expected to be at the front of the field; it’s all new experiences for me,” said the 23-year-oold Scottish Golf Women’s National Squad player.

“I’m just going to play shot-for-shot and enjoy the experience, because it’s a fantastic opportunity. I don’t drive it tremendously far, but I’m pretty straight, so I’m really enjoying this course.”

Batty could become the first amateur to win on the Sunshine Ladies Tour since Ashleigh Buhai (nee Simon) won the South African Women’s Open at Durban Country Club in 2007, but not if Lewthwaite has anything to say about the outcome.

The Benoni golfer won the Amateur title in 2016 with a second place finish and clocked a top 10 finish last year. “I would like to win, yes,” said Lewthwaite. “The first four weeks was a struggle but I’ve turned a corner and I had a great time out there the last two days. If I can birdie the par fives and keep the bogeys off my card in the final round, I can do it.”

Eaton was happy to fly below the radar as she quietly worked her way up the leaderboard with five birdies and two bogeys, but don’t be surprised if the crowd favourite walks in the winning putt at 18 for a second Sunshine Ladies Tour title.

“It was nice to come home and spent time with the family and friends and not to have all the media attention as I had in the past,” she said. “I played really solid today and if I can keep it going, and the wind shows up again, I could be right up there coming down the 18th on Saturday afternoon.”

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Written by and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.

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