5th January 2017 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Eagle sends Smit soaring at Huddle Park
It was a case of South African delight and British cheer in equal measure as local favourite Monique Smit took control of the SuperSport Ladies Challenge, while Kim Williams and Englandâ€™s Kiran Matharu moved within striking distance in Thursdayâ€™s second round at Huddle Park.
A tidy four-under-par 68 moved Smit â€“ the winner of the inaugural event in 2014 â€“ into pole position at seven under 137. She will start the final round with a three shot lead over fellow Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Kim Williams and she has four shots on the Englishwomen.
The co-leaders both parred the opening hole, but Smit left Strauss behind with successive birdies at the second and third holes.
The Southern Cape golfer overturned a bogey at nine with a birdie at the next and dipped to seven under when she holed her approach at the par four 11th. After covering a second blemish at the short 13th with a birdie at 16, she was visibly delighted to put some daylight between herself and the chasing pack.
â€œI had no expectations coming into the event because so much has changed for me since last season and I didnâ€™t put in the practice I did in previous years,â€ said Smit. â€œThe changes were positive and itâ€™s reflecting in my game.
â€œOf course winning would set me up wonderfully for the two national championships (SA Womenâ€™s Masters and SA Womenâ€™s Open) in the next couple of weeks, but there is still work to do and I am not getting ahead of myself,â€ Smit said.
Williams is handily placed after a 70, while Matharu rocketed into third place with a best round of the day five-under-par 67.
â€œBoth of them are experienced and could go low if the wind doesnâ€™t blow on Friday,â€ Smit said. â€œThey will keep me on my toes, for sure.â€
Matharu was delighted to post the low round of the day and the Ladies European Tour campaigner hopes the 67 is a sign of things to come.
â€œItâ€™s the first time that Iâ€™ve come out to play the Sunshine Ladies Tour and to get into contention in the first event is just fantastic,â€ said the Leeds native. â€œI didnâ€™t play well in the first round, but we spend 22 hours in the air to come here and I think I was still tired.
â€œThis was a much better reflection of my game, although I left at least three birdies there. I played better than my scores show and hopefully it all comes together on Friday.â€
Meanwhile rookie Ivanna Samu cracked the top five in her debut and a second round 70 will see the 18-year-old former top ranked amateur start in joint fourth at two under.
Swazilandâ€™s Nobuhle Dlamini grabbed a share of sixth with South Africans Tijana KraljevicÂ and Lejan Lewthwaite, but a second round 75 put a damper on joint first round leader Bertine Straussâ€™ birthday celebrations.
The defending champion just managed to edge inside the top 10 and is tied at even-par 144 with Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies winner Nicole Garcia.
PHOTO â€“ Monique Smit; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.