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23rd April 2021 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Full marks for maiden winner Fletcher

23 April 2021 – Former Memphis Tiger star Michaela Fletcher won a lot of golf tournaments in a storied amateur career. Now she’s a winner on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.

And the 25-year-old Maritzburg golfer broke her professional duck in the most magnificent style at the iconic Gary Player Country Club on Friday.

A pin-seeking chip from 30 feet across the water at the par-five 18th dropped dead centre and the resulting birdie for a final round one-under 71 sealed Fletcher’s her maiden success in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge, presented by Sun International.

“First and foremost, the satisfaction of being able to play under the gun and win is amazing. Having played amateur golf most of my career, this is what I’ve dreamt of doing since I joined the pro ranks last year. I’m so thrilled with this result,” said the elated winner.

Fletcher began the final day on four-under and triumphed one shot better, but she was pushed to the end by Nobuhle Dlamini, who shared the overnight lead, and last week’s Jabra Ladies Classic champion, amateur Caitlyn Macnab, who started the day two shots off the pace.

“Warming up on the range this morning I wasn’t really hitting it well,” said Fletcher.

“I went out there and just trusted my game plan. I knew going into the final round that Cat and Nobby are longer hitters, so it was really important that I trusted myself and my own game.”

While she couldn’t match Dlamini and Macnab’s booming drives, Fletcher edged in front and held on to pole with superb approach shots and a hot putter. The trio turned with Fletcher in front on five-under, Macnab one behind and Dlamini a further shot adrift.

Fletcher was solid with five straight pars to start the inward loop, while her playing partners traded birdies for bogeys.

Then, with four holes to play, Dlamini made three bogeys on the bounce and fell way, but Macnab pulled within a shot of her lead when Fletcher bogeyed the par four 15th hole.

“I knew they would both go for the green in two at the last hole and they did,” Fletcher said. “I went from not striking the ball well to striping it down the middle. I thought about going for it, but I had left myself at an awkward distance. So I stuck to the game plan and laid up. I had to take a longer club, though. When I got to the ball, I was so relieved that it was short of the water and I was safe.”

Her caddy offered some paternal advice and Fletcher obliged.

“My dad turned to me and said: ‘Look to make it; you can make this’. I’ve been chipping really well all three days and I caught it just perfectly. I was just really happy to watch the ball disappear down the hole.”

Macnab’s two-putt birdie for a 70 handed her second on her own at four-under. Dlamini also made a four on the closing hole and a round of 74 earned her a share of third alongside Denmark’s Linette Holmslykke, who signed for 69.

The Sunshine Ladies Tour is three-for-three with their #LevelUp campaign for the 2021 season, as Macnab and Fletcher followed in the footsteps of French golfer Manon Gidali, who claimed her first pro win in the season-opening Cape Town Ladies Open.

Fletcher was overjoyed to cross join the maiden winner’s circle.

“Things got a little hairy towards the end; the cracks in the swing showed up under pressure and I doubted myself just a bit, but I’m proud of the way I just grinded through,” said the former Memphis Tigers standout. “At the end of the day, golf doesn’t always have to be pretty; you just have to get it in the hole. I’m happy with the way that I played under the circumstances.”

With three events to go, she hopes to raise her game to an even higher level.

“I’ve proven to myself that I really belong here. Lockdown really tested me. It was a really tough year leading up to this and I am so proud. I grinded through a really tough swing change in the lockdown, and today, I grinded my way to the win,” she said.

“When things got difficult, I never felt sorry for myself. I never gave up. I worked with what I had and won, and that is a huge confidence booster for me. My amateur days were good, but my pro days are going to be even better.”

The Sunshine Ladies Tour’s next stop is Soweto Country Club and the R500 000 Joburg Ladies Open.

The circuit then swings through the Garden Route for the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge at Fancourt, before it returns to the Mother City for the season-finale Investec South African Women’s Open, co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour at Westlake. The €200 000 national Open doubles up this year as one of the qualifying event for golf’s biggest Major, the U.S. Women’s Open.

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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour.


22nd April 2021 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Fletcher eyes maiden win at Sun City

22 April 2021 – Maritzburg’s Michaela Fletcher produced a stunning seven-under-par 65 on Thursday to lead a Sunshine Ladies Tour event for the first time in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge, presented by Sun International, at Sun City.

The 25-year-old former Memphis Tigers standout fired eight birdies at the Gary Player Country Club to set the early clubhouse target at four-under, before Nobuhle Dlamini joined her at the summit.

Having offset two bogeys and a double at the par-three 13th with five birdies, a gain on the par four 17th saw the 2018 champion sign for a round of 70, and a share of pole position.

Fletcher began the second round six shots adrift of overnight leader Caitlyn Macnab on three-under, but she began chipping away at the deficit with birdies on the third and fourth holes. Another brace of birdies on the eighth and ninth holes saw her turn four-under.

Superb iron-play on the par fours – 12, 13 and 14 – set her up for three further gains, but she lost a shot to the field her first bogey of the day at the short 16th.

“I made a right mess of that hole, but ’m happy that I amends with a birdie finish,” said Fletcher. “It was a really good round. I struck the ball really well both rounds, but the difference was that the putts dropped today.”

Fletcher was the first Tigers women’s golfer to advance to the NCAA Championships, doing so in 2015. She was also a two-time NCAA Regional qualifier during her four year stint at the University of Memphis.

She joined the pro ranks on the Sunshine Ladies Tour last year. “I had a fantastic time at college, but I was really ready to turn pro,” said Fletcher, who ranked 15th in the Investec Order of Merit after scoring top 20 finishes in her seven starts.

“I had planned to return to the United States to build experience on the feeder circuits, but when the country went into the hard lockdown after the Investec South African Women’s Open in March, I had to switch gears.

“It was a blow, for sure, but I used the time to work on a major swing change at the small driving range back home. Putting in the time and the hard work was worth it. It worked out for the best in the end. Once I was happy with my swing, I took a complete break from golf for six weeks so I could really relax and I then I started preparing for the 2021 season.

“Big ups to the Sunshine Ladies Tour for getting the season together in the midst of everything that is happening. It’s so awesome to back out playing competitively again.”

Fletcher will now face the biggest challenge of her young career as she looks to hold off the chasing pack, led by the big-hitting eSwatini golfer and Macnab, who registered a 73 to finish in third place on two-under.

“I learned at college to accept that I can’t control what the other players do,” Fletcher said. “Nobby and Cat are both big-hitters; they can pull out the driver on a lot of holes. I am shorter off the tee, but I hit a lot of fairways and greens, so I have to play to my strengths, stick to my game plan and stay in my own head-space. If I can do that well, I have a chance to win.”

Last year’s runner-up Tandi McCallum, LPGA champion Lee-Anne Pace and Dane Linette Holmslykke are also still in with a shout.

Parkview’s McCallum is level after 36 holes after carding 73 in round two, while Pace and Holmslykke posted respective rounds of 72 and 71 to tie for fifth on one-over.

SUNSHINE LADIES TOUR SOCIAL MEDIA
Hashtags: #LevelUp #SunshineLadiesTour

Facebook – @sunshineladiestour
Twitter – @SLadiesTour
Instagram – @sunshineladiestour
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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour.