22nd February 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Pros rule the Par-3 Challenge a proper test
22 February 2020 – Coming to Serengeti Estates after four tournaments on the trot, the top talents from the Sunshine Ladies Tour were looking forward to a change of pace and some good prize money on offer.
There was an abundance of friendly banter, rivalry and challenges between the 12 teams throughout Saturday’s first round of the new Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge, however, the 24 professionals and their amateur partners quickly discovered that the Whistling Thorn course is no walk in the park.
“Oh my goodness, it was tough out there,” said two-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion Nicole Garcia, who went around the par-54, 2,618 par-3 course in level par to finish at the summit of the professional leaderboard.
Garcia and fellow professional Gabrielle Macdonald from Scotland combined with amateurs Abri Kriegler and top ranked deaf golfer Daren Hanekom from the SA Disabled Golf Association to set the early target on six-under-par 102.
“This course is a proper test of shot-making and short-game skills and with the pounding wind and the sweeping rain, it was twice as hard. Birdies felt like eagles out there,” Garcia said.
Play had to be suspended twice due to dangerous conditions. During the second suspension, the round was halted. The first round resumes on Sunday morning at 6am with Team Williams/Smit in a strong position to dethrone the leaders.
Sunshine Ladies Tour champions Kim Williams and Monique Smit partnered another bright star SA Disabled Golf Association, Curtley Roberts and Canon South Africa Corporate and Marketing Communications Executive Dana Eitzen.
“We got it to six-under and had just hit our tee shots into 17 when the sirens sounded the second time,” said Smit from Oubaai. “Dana made a nett hole-in-one on the 15th and that drew us level with the leaders. There was a lot of teasing and joking in the clubhouse after, but if we can pick up one or two birdies on the last two holes, the challenge is on.”
Williams said everyone has been hugely impressed with the course.
“Most of the pros here played the championship course in the Serengeti Team Championship last year, but the par-3 course is new. It’s easily the toughest course we’ve faced this season. It’s really helping us to sharpen our short games.
“It has all the elements of what a really good par-3 course should have – elevated greens with lots of slopes, loads of bunker protection and it is really tough to up-and-down from gorse-like grass around the greens.”
British pair Jane Turner and Lauren Taylor, who played with amateur Tyron Groenveld and Ryan McClatchie clocked in on four-under.
“Everyone contributed to our score, which was really great. We had a huge amount of fun and laughter out there,” said Turner, who hopped a flight to Johannesburg just a few hours after her play-off victory in the SA Women’s Masters on Friday.
“This event is the perfect break in the schedule, because it falls after four straight weeks on the road and just before we start the last three, which are all big ones. I want to applaud Canon and Serengeti on partnering on such an awesome concept. It not only gives us an opportunity to just relax and have fun with our ammies, but we can push the reset button. And, coming from two weeks on the coast, it’s brilliant to have this to adjust for the altitude and the distances ahead of next week’s Joburg Ladies Open at Soweto Country Club.”
Serengeti member Lejan Lewthwaite – already a two-time winner this season – and her partner, former SA Women’s Open champion Tandi McCallum are also on four-under, but with three-holes to play in the morning.
Stacy Bregman and Bonita Bredenhann from Namibia had the added pressure of playing alongside Serengeti Estates owner David Nagle, who put up an additional R100 000 to be split between the leading professional pairing.
The group will resume the first round on two-under with four to play.
“Talk about pressure,” joked Bregman. “Actually David and Tim (Kloeck) have been brilliant. The course is a lot tougher to play than it looks and we all had a bit of a shock at the start. It was a pity about the suspensions, because we had just started to find our stride.
“Dana and Dave have put a really great event on the schedule, not only because it’s a change in pace and there’s some serious money on the table. Your short-game determines your results. All the best players in the world have the strongest short-games and this course is perfectly set up to help us improve.”
TOURNAMENT HASHTAG – #Par3Challenge
TWITTER – @SLadiesTour
FACEBOOK – @sunshineladiestour
INSTAGRAM – @sunshineladiestour
OTHER – #itstartshere #InvestecGolf #sunshineladiestour #CanonRSA #WhistlingThorn
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.