21st February 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Eaton tames windÂ in George
The Port Shepstone golfer carved out a quite unbelievable two-under-par 70 in the howling wind and driving rain to lead the first round of the R200,000 Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am by two strokes from two-time champion Stacy Bregman.
As a three-club South-Westerly wind howled into the playersâ€™ faces and claimed many shots at the Ernie Els-designed layout on the Southern Cape coast, Eaton put on a shot-making master class from start to soggy finish to surge through the field and into the lead.
â€œThis was definitely one of the best rounds I have had in a long time,â€ Eaton said.
â€œIt was all about shot making out there and thatâ€™s how I learned to play the game on the coast. I played a lot in weather like this at college in the United States and on the Symetra Tour.
â€œIt always seems that the tougher the weather, the better I play.â€
Eaton started with three straight pars into the wind and reeled in back-to-back birdies at the fourth and fifth to set the tone for the day. A third gain at the par-five seventh took her to the turn in three-under.
Conditions worsened on the wide open planes of the back nine, but Eaton continued to construct a superb round.
Although she surrendered strokes at the 10th and 14th holes, the KwaZulu-Natal golfer knocked in a three-foot putt for another birdie at the par-five 12th and finished her round with four straight pars.
â€œTwo under par was no easy achievement in the conditions, but I love playing in the wind,â€ Eaton said.
â€œConditions like this always brings out the best in my game. I love playing knock down shots and punching a hole in the wind with low shots. I felt really good out there; actually, I was having fun, to the great amusement of my frozen playing partners.â€
Ladies European Tour campaigner Bregman had plenty to be pleased about, too.
The Johannesburg professional had a birdie and bogey a-piece on the front nine and a brace of birdies on the back nine to offset two drops.
Bregman defeated Eaton by one stroke for the Sun International Ladies Challenge title a fortnight ago and is relishing the rematch at the Outeniqua course at Fancourt on Sunday.
â€œI think itâ€™s going to be great fun to go toe-to-toe with Melissa again,â€ BregmanÂ said.
â€œWe had a great match play contest going on over the back nine at the Lost City Golf Course and she was a great opponent. To shoot 70 in the conditions out there today was fantastic, but hopefully Mother Nature doesnâ€™t dish out more of the same on Sunday.â€
Kim Williams, a Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies winner last year, carded a one-over-par 71 to finish three off the pace, while Englandâ€™s Lucy Williams finished a further stroke adrift.
Three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion Ashleigh Simon, the runner-up last year, tied on 75 with Iliska Verwey and Namibian golfer, Bonita Bredenhann.
Defending champion Monique Smit left herself with a lot of work to do after an opening 80.
The Southern Cape favourite is tied for 18th alongside fellow professionals Chevonne Botha, Nobuhle Dlamini from Swaziland, Englandâ€™s Kirsty Fisher and leading amateur Bianca Theron from the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation.
PHOTO â€“ Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am leader, Melissa Eaton from KwaZulu-Natal; credit Luke Walker/Gallo Images/Sunshine Tour.