19th March 2014 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Fletcher’s hat-trick boosted by Tour
It is hardly surprising that Sunshine Ladies Tour standout Michaela Fletcher has earned the nick name “Match Play Queen” from her peers after she claimed her third consecutive Match Play title at the Pam Golding Properties WGWP Championship on Tuesday.
Fletcher launched her outstanding run with a 3 & 2 win over Mae Cornforth at the Eastern Province Championship in February and collected her second title at the KwaZulu-Natal Championship, where she defeated Carmia van Wyk 4 & 2
Between provincial events, the amicable 18-year-old Maritzburg golfer has been cleaning up in the amateur section on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, as well.
After a tie for third at the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Houghton, she claimed a share of fifth at the Sun International Challenge and finished ninth at the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Glendower. Fletcher took the top amateur prize again at the SuperSport Challenge with a tie for 12th, before she flew to the Cape to seal her hat-trick at the WP Championship by beating Cornforth again with a 3 & 2 margin at Somerset olf Club.
The former Nomads SA Girls champion defeated Southern Cape’s Marguerite Pienaar and Desiree Geldenhuys 3 & 2 and 6 & 5 in the first and second rounds respectively and earned a hard-fought 1-up victory over local favourite Ji Sun Kang in the semi-final.
“I expected a tough match against Ji Sun and I wasn’t disappointed,” Fletcher said. “I had to overcome three early bogeys, but I turned it around with five birdies to take the match at the 18th.
“Mentally and physically, it was a really tough match, but the experience on the Sunshine Ladies Tour has toughen me up, though, and definitely sharpened my focus. I psyched myself up again, because I knew from experience that playing Mae would be another tough battle.”
Cornforth handed Fletcher early control with a bogey at the par-four third. The KZN golfer reeled in back-to-back birdies at the sixth and seventh to go 3-up.
Both players played to par through the turn, but Fletcher widened the gap with a birdie at the 11th.
“Mae answered with a birdie at the 13th and shortened the gap,” Fletcher said. “I just focussed on making pars over the next couple of holes and won with two holes to play. I guess on paper it might look like an easy win, but it was a tough match. Match play is such a tricky format; you can’t afford to let your guard down for a minute, because things change very quickly. It all came down to my putter, really.”
Fletcher was notably pleased to notch her third match play title this early in the season and has set the Sanlam SA Stroke Play Championship in April in her sights.
“I’m very pleased that I could keep my record going and it’s really fantastic to hold an unbeaten record in the match play championships,” she said. “I’ve definitely gained a lot of experience this season, both in our amateur events and playing against the pros. I feel like I can win the SA Stroke Play, but I need to take that belief to Stellenbosch Golf Club and make it happen.
“I want to take it to the next level. I’ve won the Sanlam Cancer Challenge and I would love to own another Sanlam title.”
PHOTO: 2014 Pam Golding Properties WGWP Match Play winner, Michaela Fletcher from KwaZulu-Natal; credit Catherine Kotze / SASPA