14th December 2014 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Garcia shines at LET Q-School
South Africa’s Nicole Garcia, Monique Smit, Melissa Eaton and Francesca Cuturi all crossed the first hurdle to make the field for the Final Stage of the 2015 Ladies European Tour qualifying school in Morocco next week.
Garcia was impressive as she claimed a 13-stroke victory in the 72-hole examination at the Red Course Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Morocco, while the Sunshine Ladies Tour trio and Namibia’s Bonita Bredenhann also passed with flying colours at the Lalla Aicha Tour School B-Stage Qualifier.
The qualifier had to be played on the Red Course only, as the Blue Course suffered too much damage during a recent rain spell.
Garcia took full advantage of all the experienced gained this season while playing on a partial LET card and the valuable lessons learned in her debut at the US Womens Open.
The 24-year-old Tuks Sport Science graduate carded rounds of 72, 71, 70 and 70 to triumph on nine-under-par 283.
“It was just as tough as the first time around, but this time I was far better prepared to handle the pressure and I didn’t let any of the bad shots get to me,” Garcia said.
“The experience this past year has really matured me as a golfer, and I hope I can carry this form through to the Final Stage and get that card sealed this year.”
Smit posted rounds of 77, 76, 75 and 77 to book her berth with a tie for sixth on 13 over 305.
“The Red Course is one tough layout,” said Smit. “It’s tree-lined and the fairways were cut very tight and, at some of the holes, the fairways lie at such an angle that they suddenly just go half the size. The greens were super-fast, which made scoring really tough.”
The George golfer won the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am and SuperSport Challenge and reeled in runner-up finishes in the Investec Cup for Ladies and Zambia Ladies Open to take second behind Lee-Anne Pace in the final Sunshine Ladies Tour standings.
She plied her trade on the Ladies Asian Tour this season and finished 16th on the final Order of Merit.
Symetra Tour winner Eaton relocated back to SA after years in the United States.
The KwaZulu-Natal player impressed in her first start back on home soil with a tie for 30th in the Cell C SA Women’s Open at San Lameer.
Eaton got her campaign off to a great start when she aced the par-three 11th with a five-iron on her way to an opening 79. She navigated the Robert Trent Jones designed Red Course in further rounds of 73, 79 and 76 to tie for 11th.
Rookie Francesca Cuturi made her pro debut on the Sunshine Ladies Tour and finished the season ranked eighth. She campaigned the rest of the season on the IGT Tour to prepare for Q-School and impressed with a tie for 41st in the Battle of the Giants at Glendower just before she departed for Morocco.
The Joburg pro carded rounds of 78 and 78, but dropped significantly after a frustrating 83 in the third round.
“I really messed up in the third round and put myself under a lot of pressure, because I was lying right on the cut-line,” Cuturi said. “I thrive on pressure, though, and all that experienced paid off. I played my best golf in the final round for a 72 and jumped 13 places to finish joint 26th to make it.”
Sunshine Ladies Tour campaigner Bredenhann also warmed up on the IGT Tour. She started with a big number, but followed an opening 83 with rounds of 76, 77 and 76 to tie for 29th.
The quintet will have a few days of shopping in Marakesh before they meet up with meet up with Swaziland’s Nobuhle Dlamini for the big showdown at the Samanah and Al Maaden courses in Marrakech from 17 – 21 December.
The top 30 and ties will be offered category 8a membership that will guarantee them starts in the majority of tournaments on the 2015 Ladies European Tour.
PHOTO – Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie Nicole Garcia won the Ladies European Tour’s Lalla Aicha Tour School B-Stage Qualifier in Morocco; credit LET