19th February 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Gorlei soars to summit at San Lameer
19 February 2020 – Cara Gorlei shrugged off any suggestions of pressure on the opening day of the Standard Bank South Africa Women’s Masters to surge into the first round lead at San Lameer Country Club.
With rain beating down intermittently on the coastal layout, the 24-year-old Milnerton rookie made the perfect start to her fourth event, reeling in a trio of birdies to set the tone for a flawless round and she set the early mark with a three-under-par 69.
Her target was matched by Scotland’s Jane Turner, who got it to four-under through 12 holes, but a bogey at the par five 13th and a double-bogey finish for a round of 71 left Gorlei with a two-stroke advantage and some welcome breathing room.
A former star of South African amateur golf, Gorlei spent four years on a golf scholarship at the University of Arkansas, where she represented the Arkansas Razorbacks women’s golf team. It was during this stretch that she also won the prestigious South African Women’s Amateur Championship.
After graduating with a major in kinesiology last June, the South African closed the book on a glittering amateur career and signed up for golf’s most gruelling test. She was the only South African to make the first cut at the First Stage of the LPGA Qualifying School, but a round of 79 in the final round put paid to her campaign.
“I competed in some of the Sunshine Ladies Tour events as an amateur, so I knew this would be good way to start my career before I head back to the States to compete on the Women’s All Pro Tour,” said Gorlei.
With many twists and turns still to come in this enthralling Sunshine Ladies Tour season, Gorlei was pleased to have laid down an early marker in her fourth start.
“Coming into the season, my expectations were unrealistically high, especially starting the Cape Town Ladies Open in my back yard. Nerves got the better of me, but as we have eased into the season, I’ve started to find my game a bit more. I’m starting to feel more comfortable and enjoying it a lot more.
“There is still of lot of golf to play, but a good finish this week could prove significant towards the end of the season. I’m pleased to be in an attacking position at last.”
Buoyed by a top 12 finish in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am on Sunday, Gorlei birdied the par four fifth and on both par threes – the 14th and 16th – while keeping her round ticking over with pars.
“With all the rain, I knew the course would be playing long. A lot of the holes were gettable, though, and I hit a lot of 4-irons and 3-woods to keep it in play. The strategy was just to hit fairways and greens and to pick up some birdies along the way.
“I was just playing good golf and making good putts. I hit a lot of fairways and I didn’t miss many greens, maybe one or two, but marginally and I managed make a lot of pars.”
Despite the unfortunate finish, Turner was in good spirits and happy to be just two shots back.
“I played really good golf and only made two mistakes that cost me three shots. I missed just three greens in regulation and I made four birdies, which I was really happy about,” Turner said.
“It was very, very wet out there and everyone was like ‘you should be used to this, coming from Scotland’. I’m sorry, but when a three-club wind blows or it’s pouring with rain, I stay indoors.
“The greens are very different to the courses we’ve played so far, but I handled it well. It always helps when you make the first few putts; that gave me a bit of confidence and I felt I could be a little more aggressive with the putter. I’m not too far off and hopefully the weather improves.”
Seasoned campaigner Kim Williams birdied the par four closing hole to finish three strokes adrift, while Monique Smit and Jessica Dreesbeimdieke from Namibia both finished on one-over-par 73.
Williams lauded the green staff at San Lameer for getting the course playable after a deluge forced the organisers to suspend the Pro-Am on Tuesday.
“It really has been bucketing down, but the staff have done an amazing job to get us on the course,” said the multiple Sunshine Ladies Tour winner. “I had to change the way I usually play the course. I couldn’t hit the big shots I would normally hit around here. I had to dial it back a little and I’m chuffed with the result. I’m just a few shots off with two rounds to go and that’s a good place to be.”
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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, WPGA and World Sports Promotions.
1st October 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Gorlei set to join new generation of SA women’s golf stars in pro ranks
1 October 2019 – As a number of Sunshine Ladies Tour professionals take advantage of the opportunity given by the Sunshine Tour to compete alongside the men in the Vodacom Origins of Golf series, it’s reaffirmed the belief that this new generation in South African women’s golf is ready to make their mark.
Cara Gorlei certainly thinks so, and is hoping to be one of them as she embarks on her professional career.
The former star of South African women’s amateur golf has just returned from a golf scholarship at the University of Arkansas, and is more motivated than ever to be part of a new generation of golfers hoping to fly the South African flag on the tours of the world.
“I think the women’s golf talent in South Africa has come through in stages. Recently we had Ashleigh Buhai and Lee-Anne Pace and that group of players. We’ve had a bit of a lull and age gap now. But hopefully we can start a new era of good players representing South Africa on Tour,” said Gorlei.
She has only just returned from competing in the South African Women’s Inter-Provincial, where she helped Western Province to a runner-up finish at the Riviera on Vaal Country Club, and will not be participating in this week’s Vodacom Origins of Golf in Stellenbosch.
But while practising at Stellenbosch Golf Club, she was keenly aware of the opportunity the Vodacom Origins of Golf series gives her generation of golfers.
The five-tournament Vodacom Origins of Golf series has thrown its considerable support by South African women’s golf by inviting Sunshine Tour Ladies professionals to participate in each of the 36-hole pro-ams on the series.
These golfers have the double incentive of competing with their pro-am team for the betterball prize money on offer, as well as in their own internal competition with exclusive prize money for them.
And most importantly, it gives them competitive playing time before the Sunshine Ladies Tour resumes in January.
“It’s great and I would have loved to play in this series. I’ve just played my last amateur tournament, so my plans are now to practice as much as I can and then start my pro career on the Sunshine Ladies Tour in January.”
Gorlei recently made an attempt at an LPGA Tour card. She made it through the first cut in the First Stage of the Qualifying School, but then shot 79 in the final round to miss progressing to the Second Stage.
“I was the only South African to make the first cut. My game is in good shape and I know if I try again I’ll make it. In my time in America I learnt a lot about playing other tours. I learnt to trust the belief other people have in me. Once I was over there and started doing well, I kind of surprised myself. It boosted my confidence a lot. I learnt that if you just put in the hard work, I’ll definitely make it.
“My coach at the University of Arkansas, Shauna Taylor, played a lot on Tour and she has been telling me to just believe in myself and I will win out there. On the college golf scene you play against the top amateurs in the world on some of the top courses in the world. You have the best coaches and facilities, and you just learn so much. I feel if I didn’t do that I wouldn’t be so confident to go onto the Tour right now.”
Written by Michael Vlismas; edits Sunshine Ladies Tour.