2nd February 2016 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Dlamini soars at Ladies Tshwane Open
The big-hitting Swazi golfer erased a pair of double bogeys with five birdies and canned a tricky 15-foot downhill putt for an eagle at 18 to sign for a three-under-par 68 and pole position at Zwartkop Country Club.
South Africaâ€™s Ashleigh Simon went some way in justifying her pre-tournament favourite tag.
She carded a two under 69 to join fellow Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Monique Smit, Potchefstroom teaching pro Liezl Klotz and amateur Kaleigh Telfer in second.
Compatriot Stacy Bregman â€“ who shared the runner-up honours with Simon in last weekâ€™s Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Houghton Golf Club â€“ also eagled the par five closing hole for a 70 and sole fourth on the first round leaderboard.
Since Dlamini regained her card at the Final Stage Qualifier of the Ladies European Tour Q-School in December last year, she has offered glimpses of the golden form that carried her to third in the world amateur golf rankings two years ago.
She made a less than impressive double bogey at the first, but expunged the damage with birdies at the two par threes to get back to even-par.
â€œI hit my tee shot in the fairway bunker, but when I played the trap shot, I caught a branch and the ball span backwards,â€ Dlamini said.
â€œI thought I was lucky that the ball finished in the fairway, until I hit my third into another fairway bunker up the right fairway. Suffice to say I was just happy to get the hole done. When I walked to the second tee, I said to my caddie Colin (Sikobi) that we are starting over.
â€œI made a solid par at two and hit it to tap-in distance for birdie at three to get one shot back. It felt really good when I holed a 15-footer for birdie at seven to get back to level with nine to play.â€
A pair of birdies at 11 and 12 helped Dlamini to a share of the lead, but she edged clear of Simon with another gain at 14.
â€œI hit eight-iron into 12 and left myself with a 25-foot uphill putt that I struck perfectly for birdie,â€ Dlamini said.
â€œAt 14, I took three-wood off the tee and had 107 meters left to the pin. I hit a gap-wedge in to 12-foot and made the birdie putt. The par threes were really kind to me, so was really mad when dropped two shots at 17. My ball caught the slope and rolled in the water.â€
Fuming, Dlamini hit a messy drive down the 18th fairway, but managed to clear the bunkers.
â€œI was still really mad at myself, but Colin said get over it and focusâ€“ he is great at calming me down and keeping me focused â€“ so thatâ€™s just what I did,â€ she laughed.
â€œI cleaned up with a six-iron and a 15-foot uphill putt for eagle. Itâ€™s great to be in this position again after battling for form over the last two years. Iâ€™ve still struggling with the putter at Houghton, so I decided this week forget about all the technical stuff and just roll my putts.
â€œThat really worked for me. Hopefully I can put two more rounds like this together. It will be awesome to finally get the monkey off my back on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.â€
PHOTO â€“ Swazilandâ€™s Nobuhle Dlamini; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.