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21st February 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Turner triumphs in Standard Bank SA Women’s Masters

20 February 2020 – It took three trips down the 18th in a playoff before Scotland’s Jane Turner emerged victorious over South Africa’s Cara Gorlei in the Standard Bank South Africa Women’s Masters at San Lameer Country Club on Friday.

Starting the day with a three-shot lead, Turner struggled to a one-over 73 to finish on one-under alongside Gorlei, who carded a two-under 70.

In the playoff, Turner had the measure of the par-four 18th and narrowly missed a birdie attempt – but the tap-in was enough to give her the win.

“I had to hole a long putt to get into the playoff, which was a fantastic feeling,” said Turner.

“That was the hole we played in the playoff. Every single tee shot I hit in the playoff, there was only a three-yard difference to what I had left in for my approaches. So I had the approach dialled in by the end of the playoff.”

While Turner battled in the final round, Milnerton rookie Gorlei – who led the first round – was making a charge for the title.

The pair were tied after eight holes with Turner one-over and Gorlei two-under. On 11, Turner double-bogey to fall two behind before Gorlei moved three-ahead with a gain on the 12th. But two closing birdies for Turner, including a vital birdie on the last helped her reel her opponent in.

“Cara was three-under par at one point during her round, and I made a double bogey on the 11th – but after that I got stuck in. I knew I could still make the birdies, I just had to stay patient and calm.

“My score doesn’t reflect that I was very calm heading into the round today. I wasn’t overly nervous, and just stuck to my game plan.

“I am hugely honoured to win the Standard Bank SA Women’s Masters. A number of really great golfers have won this title in the past, and I’m so thrilled to add my name to the winner’s list.”

The Scotswoman, who celebrated her maiden Sunshine Ladies Tour win last season in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club, hinted that this could be the start of a strong run for her this season.

“I achieved my first win this year, but that doesn’t mean it’s my last one. My main goal was to win, but now that I’ve done it I can go on and win more. There are four more tournaments on the Sunshine Ladies Tour before I go back home to Europe, so it’s already been a great start to the season.”

And the next one could happen this weekend.

Buoyed by the victory, the confident 30-year-old was excited to hop on a plane on Friday evening, to take up her place in the limited field for the Canon Serengeti Par 3 Challenge – a new event on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.

“You know, it’s a great innovation by the Sunshine Tour and Sergengeti to be hosting a unique event like this,” said Turner.

“The thing about a par three tournament is that being a big hitter isn’t necessarily an advantage, but it places a big emphasis on shot-making. We as professionals and the fans love to see what kind of shots we can come up with. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, and there is a lot of prize money on the table. It’s definitely a new kind of excitement, because you might not get the usual suspects at the top of the leaderboard.”

Sharing third were Monique Smit and Kim Williams on one-over, with Bonita Bredenhahn and Bianca Lohbauer tied fifth on six over.

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Released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, WPGA and World Sports Promotions.

 

 

 


20th February 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Turner gunning for victory at San Lameer

20 February 2020 – Scotland’s Jane Turner was a measure of consistency – with the help of a hot putter – as she fired a second consecutive one-under 71 to forge a three-shot lead in the second round of the Standard Bank South Africa Women’s Masters at San Lameer Country Club on Thursday.

Turner leads on two-under, ahead of first round leader Cara Gorlei, who battled her way to a four-over 76 to slip to drop to one-over for the tournament.

Sunshine Ladies Tour winners Kim Williams and Monique Smit and Spains Maria Beautell are also still in the hunt.

Williams and former champion Beautell are tied on two-over in joint third after carding respective rounds of 74 and 71, while Smit is six off the pace on four-over after a second round 75.

“It was a little up-and-down compared to yesterday,” said Turner, who claimed her maiden win as a professional in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge last year just a 20-minute drive down the road at the Wild Coast Sun.

The 30-year-old Edinburgh golfer mixed five birdies and four bogeys, to ensure she nestled her name firmly at the summit of the leaderboard.

A strong wedge game to go with the red-hot putter was key for Turner. “I putted really well on the front nine; I actually only had 11 putts on the front and had 28 putts total, which was actually the same as in the first round.

”On seven and eight, I made birdie after strong wedge shots into the greens. I made a three-footer on seven and a four-footer on eight.

“My putting was strong, but my wedge play gave me lots of good chances.”

Despite better playing conditions on day two – after the first round was interrupted by heavy rain – scoring still proved difficult.

“Yesterday was pretty crazy as we had a one-hour delay because of rain. I played my first couple holes without the rain, and then it was just on-and-off the whole time. The course is very wet and it was much the same today, but at least we didn’t get any rain.

“After about eight holes, though, the wind really came up and as we came through the closing holes, there was a pretty strong wind affecting club choices quite significantly.”

Hunting her third professional win, Turner said she doesn’t intend to change anything in the final round.

“I don’t think I’m going to change anything in tomorrow’s round. I’m going to stick to my game plan and how I chose to play the course. Hopefully I’ll have the same score or better. I have no control over what anyone else does, so I’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.”

Having won at the Wild Coast in howling wind could a good omen for the Dalmahoy Country Club golfer.

“I love South Africa and having won at the Wild Coast last year brings back very positive memories. In fact, San Lameer was actually the first course I played in South Africa two years ago on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.

“It would be a massive step for me as a professional. It would be my third win, which would be a huge accomplishment and a great start to the year. One of my goals for this year was to win, so if I got it this early it would be fantastic.”

Emie Peronnin may have signed for 79, but the French golfer still had reason to smile…after all, it is not every day you hole out for an ace in such testing conditions. The 2018 Ladies European Tour Access Series Rookie of the Year hole out on the par three ninth.

 

Second Round Scores

(All competitors RSA unless otherwise stated and amateurs are indicated AMA)

142 – Jane Turner (SCO) 71 71

145 – Cara Gorlei 69 76

146 – Maria Beautell (ESP) 75 71, Kim Williams 72 74

148 – Monique Smit 73 75

149 – Sharmila Nicollet (IND) 76 73, Bianca Lohbauer AMA 74 75

150 – Zethu Myeki 74 76

151 – Hannah Arnold (USA) 77 74, Woo-Ju Son (KOR) 76 75, Jessica Dreesbeimdieke (NAM) 73 78

152 – Bonita Bredenhann (NAM) 78 74

153 – Rachel Drummond (ENG) 80 73, Clara Pietri (SUI) 77 76, Emie Peronnin (FRA) 74 79

154 – Pasqualle Coffa (NED) 80 74, Leticia Ras-Anderica (GER) 79 75, Lauren Taylor (ENG) 75 79

155 – Lindi Coetzee 83 72, Michaela Fletcher 77 78

156 – Brittney-Fay Berger 81 75, Christina Gloor (SUI) 79 77, Jordy LaBarbera (USA) 78 78, Julie Berton (FRA) 75 81

157 – Rosie Davies (ENG) 77 80, Kelsey Nicholas 76 81

159 – Francesca Cuturi 80 79, Yolanda Duma 78 81

160 – Shawnelle de Lange 78 82

161 – Tara Griebenow 77 84

164 – Kyle Roig (PUR) 79 85

166 – Melissa Eaton 83 83

167 – Chiara Contomathios 89 78, Siviwe Duma 86 81

172 – Sunelle von Molendorff 85 87

 

Ends

 

PHOTOS – Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie Cara Gorlei opened up a two-shot lead in the first round of the Standard Bank SA Women’s Masters at San Lameer Country Club; credit Shannon Naidoo.

NOTE: The images attached are free to use with editorial.

 

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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, WPGA and World Sports Promotions.

 

 


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.


18th February 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Fletcher looking for magic at San Lameer

18 February 2020 – Maritzburg rookie Michaela Fletcher is hoping the Standard Bank SA Women’s Masters will rain some of its good fortune on her rookie career when she tees off in tomorrow’s first round at San Lameer Country Club.

It happened for Carrie Park from South Korea in 2017. For Germany’s Laura Fuenfstueck in 2018.

And, last year, the SA Women’s Masters it kick-started the career of recent two-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Lejan Lewthwaite.

“There is something magical about the Masters and the rookies,” said Fletcher. “Hopefully the trend continues and hopefully I’m the rookie Lady Luck smiles on this week.”

After the first three events on the 2020 Sunshine Ladies Tour, Fletcher admits it has been a difficult start to her life as a professional.  However, a good finish in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-am last week – seventh place in the individual and sixth place in the betterball – has buoyed her confidence.

“I had a deflating opening 76, but a really good finish with subsequent rounds of 72 72,” said the 24-year-old. “I was really proud of the mental grit I showed on the second and third day after it was a bit of a struggle at the start.

“I’m looking forward to this week – just taking the lessons I learnt last week. It was a little bit of a mental breakthrough – which proved I do belong here and that I made the right choice to come here and play professional golf. You kind of question yourself when times are tough.”

Fletcher had a top amateur career having represented the SA Girls side as a teenager before going to America to play college golf, and she was honest about how difficult it has been making the step-up to the paid ranks.

“It’s been a really tough transition. I played in the Sunshine Ladies Tour as an amateur before I went to college in America. I played really well and had several really good finishes. I had a really good amateur career, especially in America. I kind of expected myself to be doing a whole lot better than I am. I prepared really well and I haven’t really seen the results that I wanted,” she said.

“I think that’s part of the learning experience. I’ve spoken to a lot of older girls and they had it tough when they started out as pros. I think it’s about taking it all in, and realising you might not succeed right from the get-go and just understanding it’s a long process ahead.”

While her results in her first two events on the Sunshine Ladies were not what she was seeking (19th at the Cape Town Ladies Open and 22nd at the SuperSport Ladies Challenge), Fletcher said she was working on her patience – and the results would follow in time.

“I’m only three tournaments into my professional career, and it’s not the end of the world. It definitely hasn’t been what I wanted out of my pro career so far, but I’m learning and trying to get better every day.

“I’m trying to learn every day, and just get a little bit better – even if it takes some time.”

Despite what she calls a frustrating start to her Sunshine Ladies Tour campaign as a pro, Fletcher is lying well among the rookies on tour.

Woo-Ju Son from South Korea, who topped both the Open and Junior Amateur standings in South Africa, is currently highest on the Investec Order of Merit in eighth position.

Only  Son and Tara Griebenow (10th) are ahead in the rookie standings with Fletcher in 11th.  Lindi Coetzee (13th) and former South African Women’s Amateur champion Cara Gorlei (14th) are close behind, making for an intriguing battle this season among the rookies on tour.

Already, Fletcher has changed her approach and it has reflected in her improving results.

“I tried getting off to a fast start, and I found that doesn’t suit me. I’m now trying to ease into rounds and play par golf,” she said.

“If you’re hitting greens in regulation and playing par golf it builds confidence. You’re probably going to have a couple looks at birdies early on anyway. So I’m just taking it in my stride – because you can’t win a tournament in the first round but you can lose it. At the end of the day I’m playing against the course, and my capabilities and not the other players.”

Park came out on top at Rondebosch Golf Club, but Lewthwaite and Fuenfstueck both captured their maiden Sunshine Ladies Tour titles at San Lameer.

As for the test provided by the coastal layout that is typically windswept, it should not be a problem for Fletcher who grew up playing golf in windy weather.

“Coastal golf is obviously totally different with windy conditions and the slower greens. I grew up playing golf in East London so I feel like I have a base knowledge in the wind,” she said.

“It’s about opening up your mind to playing different types of shots and not necessarily exact distances. The thing about coastal golf is that you have to be creative and not worry too much about the wind because it’s the same for everybody.”

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

 

 


22nd February 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Williams takes route 66 to join Bringner at the top

22 February 2019 – Kim Williams scorched her way around a breathless San Lameer Country Club with a superb six-under 66 to join Sweden’s Sofie Bringner in the lead on three-under overall after two rounds of the South African Women’s Masters on Friday.

In contrast to the first round where heavy winds swirled about for the entire day, hot and calm conditions greeted the players on day two.

The Centurion Country Club golfer made best use of the easier conditions to find 17 greens in regulation, and made eight birdies and just two bogeys as a result.

“It was a nice round, the last week I felt like my game was heading in the right direction. And for everything to work out today was nice,” said three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Williams.

“My putter is starting to warm-up. I’ve been struggling with that since the beginning of the season. I made a few clutch putts, nice par-saves and then towards the end the birdie putts started dropping. My putting was definitely key today.

“Yesterday was really tough with the wind swirling quite a lot, so club selection was quite tough. I was happy with my score after yesterday. Yesterday I didn’t make a birdie, today I think I had eight birdies. The key is when you’re making drops, is to be able to come back.”

Williams led for most of the final round at the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge last week in George, before she was ultimately overtaken by Nobuhle Dlamini who ended with a two-stroke victory.

There will definitely be a hint of unfinished business for Williams, hoping to put that disappointment behind her.

“The last two holes today were pretty key. I saw four-under was the lead, so I knew if I had a strong finish I would have a better chance tomorrow,” Williams said. “I’m excited. I was in contention last week as well. I just hope I can keep it together and have a round like I had today.”

Overnight leader Bringner had led for most of the day, at one stage by three with an opening nine that included five birdies, and just two bogeys.

One of the key holes for The Hills Golf Club member was the par five eighth. There she was just short of the putting surface in two, but a poor chip from 30 metres left her with a monster putt over a steep ridge.

The hot-putter worked once more as the ball raced up the slope before taking a final left turn into the hole. “It was a good day on the course, and the first nine was very good. The putter was really hot today,” Bringner said.

“The putt on eight was about 20 metres, and very difficult with lots of slope and I just gave it a good roll and it went in.”

Just three shots behind the leaders were amateur Kajal Mistry (75 69), who tied for fifth with Williams at Fancourt, and last Sunday’s champion Nobuhle Dlamini (74 70).

Randpark’s Mistry produced an impressive three-under round which featured an eagle two at the par four sixth, which sent one interested spectator mad – her father Nilesh Mistry.

“I hit every fairway today and if I missed a green I was just in the first cut. So it was a stress free-round except for two three-putts I had,” said the 18-year-old GolfRSA Elite squad member. “I eagled number six. I hit three-wood off the tee and had 95 to the flag, so I hit a little knockdown gap wedge. It took two hops and dropped. My dad made a lot of noise with his screaming and clapping.”

Kiran Matharu from England, another former Sunshine Ladies Tour champion, is a further shot adrift after rounds of 73 and 72.

Scotland’s Hannah McCook and GolfRSA Elite Squad player Symone Henriques started the second round one off the overnight pace. McCook posted 74 to finish on two-over and Henriques returned a 75 to tie for seventh on three-over 147.

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21st February 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

McCook and Henriques give chase at San Lameer

21 February 2019 – On a windswept San Lameer Country Club on Thursday, just one player broke par in the opening round of the Sunshine Ladies Tour South African Women’s Masters, with Sweden’s Sofie Bringner leading the way on one-under-par 71.

Hot on her heels were Scotland’s Hannah McCook and GolfRSA Elite Squad amateur Symone Henriques, who shared second with rounds of level par 72.

Scottish golfer Hannah McCook grabbed a share of second with a level-par 72 on a windy first day of the Sunshine Ladies Tour South African Women’s Masters at San Lameer Country Club; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

Hailing from Gleneagles Golf Club in the heart of Scotland, McCook said her experience in the wind did not give her much of an advantage on the KwaZulu-Natal layout.

“Everyone was joking that because I’m from Scotland, I should be used to the wind, but this is a much warmer wind and it’s tricky,” said McCook. “Into the wind was hard, but you just have to try and control your ball flight.”

Starting on the 10th, McCook began with three pars before a birdie-bogey exchange at 13 and 14 took her back to even.

A birdie at the par five 17th saw the 25-year-old turn in one-under. Her second nine was more of a struggle with a bogey at the par three fourth and a double drop at the sixth, but the former Scottish Golf National Squad player managed gains at the two par fives – holes one and eight – to post an impressive score in difficult conditions.

“I was quite solid out of the gates,” said McCook. “I was one-under through six and two-under through 10. I did well to get it back to level par after a little bit of a mishap on six.

“The wind got stronger as the round went on, it was definitely a bit calmer at the start. It dropped a little during the middle of my round but picked up again at the end. Playing the sixth hole into the wind was extremely tricky.”

GolfRSA Elite Squad amateur Symone Henriques from Glenvista was one of only three players to break par on a windy first day of the Sunshine Ladies Tour South African Women’s Masters at San Lameer Country Club; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

Henriques offset bogeys at the first and 12th holes with a brace of gains at five and 18.

“It was quite exhausting out there, because you really had to be patient and plan every shot,” said the Glenvista golfer. “I managed to overturn my bogeys and made some great par-saves to keep the round going. The birdie at five gave me some nice momentum and it was great to birdie 18, because that is always a very intimidating hole in the wind.”

The Hills Golf Club member Bringner said the wind placed a greater emphasis on driving it straight.

“You have to think a lot more about what kind of shots you want to play,” Bringer said. “The most important thing for sure is keeping your ball in the fairway, if you can do that you can score.”

In fact, Bringer holed a couple monster putts in her five-birdie, four-bogey round. “It was a solid round of golf and I made a few good putts. I made some longer ones, like five or six-metre ones on the 11th and fourth.”

East London Golf Club player Yolanda Duma set the early clubhouse target with a one-over 73, which was matched in the afternoon by former Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Kiran Matharu of Sandmoor Golf Club in England and Swede Anna Magnusson.

Magnusson said she was particularly pleased with her round.

“I’m happy with the round. I made five birdies, because I hit a lot of good shots, but also there were some bad ones thrown in there too,” said the Ullna Golf Club representative. “It was really hard playing in the wind, but sometimes I really enjoy playing in those conditions. But yeah, it was tough out there.”

Lurking ominously on two-over and by no means out of it is Investec Property Fund Order of Merit leader Nobuhle Dlamini. The three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner from Swaziland shares seventh place with Spain’s Maria Beautell.

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


20th February 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Dark horse Berger banking on fast start at San Lameer 

19 February 2019 – There will be a dark horse lurking in the form of Brittney-Fay Berger when the South African Women’s Masters tees off at San Lameer Country Club on Thursday.

The 18-year-old Kloof Country Club member will be making just her fourth start as a golf professional, but has already notched up three top-25 finishes in as many events.

With the Sunshine Ladies Tour proving to be the perfect breeding ground for tomorrow’s talent, Berger is among a new generation of young talent ready to cut their teeth on the local scene.

In 2017, former South African number one ranked amateur Carrie Park picked up her maiden Sunshine Ladies Tour title in the SA Women’s Masters. She is now plying her trade on the lucrative Korean LPGA Tour.

Germany’s Laura Fuenfstueck, meanwhile, tasted victory last year in the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality, which paved her path to playing on to the Ladies European Tour this year.

“It’s been a bit different playing for money. I’ve been getting used to it though, and it’s really nice to have so many tournaments in a row like this. It gets a bit tiring, but if you manage your travelling it’s not too bad,” said Berger.

“It’s quite nice that I’m back home, I got back last night from the Dimension Data Challenge. I feel much better going into this week. I’m really enjoying it and playing in all these events.”

Showing little signs of nerves in her first event in the paid ranks, Berger finished 24th at the Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open in Irene at the end of January. A week later at the Serengeti Team Championship, she paired up with fellow rookie Casandra Hall as the duo finished tenth.

“It was amazing, and I was so happy to make the cut in my first start. That was my goal going at the start of the Sunshine Ladies Tour. I had a disappointing last round, but I was just happy to make the cut and earn some money. Once I made the cut, I just went for it on the last day – it didn’t work out but I was still really happy with my result. It makes it a bit easier for me – getting used to the players and how things are run.”

On Sunday last week in George a 16th place finish followed.

“I played at George Golf Club before, but I had never played the Outeniqua Course at Fancourt. So going into the last round, I was a bit blind. So I was happy with how it went and to be improving each week.”

The KwaZulu-Natal native could be a good bet for a first top-10 or better on the tricky and tight San Lameer layout.

“Being back home now is really nice as I know the courses,” said Berger. “I like San Lameer. It’s a very tricky course, especially when the wind comes up. I played there a couple times. I played in the ladies event there last year as an amateur and I didn’t make the cut. I’m hoping to improve on that.”

In fact, Berger has put her studies in medicine on hold to pursue her career in golf.

Few teenagers are faced with massive life decisions right after school, but it’s about living a life without regret she explained.

“I really wanted to study medicine, but it is a seven-year course so once I start there’s no real time for golf. Also I would really like to make golf my career. I decided to give myself a couple years – if I make it I’ll carry on and if I don’t I’m still not too old and I can go back and study. If I left the golf until later I might end up regretting not having tried it. It’s just trying to see if I’m good enough.

“I’m just thinking about the next five years or so. If I make quite a bit of money and I can afford to live off that, then I’ll carry on.”

There were also a host of new faces in George last week including Scotland’s Gabrielle MacDonald who made her debut on tour with an impressive sixth place finish, just five shots behind winner Nobuhle Dlamini.

MacDonald, a former member of the Scottish Golf Women’s National Squad, will hope to keep up the trend of young Scottish golfers who tend to excel on SA fairways, like GolfRSA African Amateur Champion Euan Walker.

Fellow Scottish Golf Women’s National Squad member Hannah McCook is another debutant heading to San Lameer.

The 25-year-old Gleneagles Country Club member, playing last year as an amateur, missed the cut in the SA Women’s Masters, but produced a solid top-15 finish at the Wild Coast a week later in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge. McCook could well feature this week knowing what to expect this time around on the windy south coast – much improved conditions from her native Scotland.

“Coming out this year as a professional is quite exciting. We play in the wind a lot at home, and playing here in the warmer temperatures made it a lot easier,” said the Nethy Bridge resident, who works part-time in housekeeping at a residential centre back home.

Another international hoping to make her presence felt will be Pasqualle Coffa from the Netherlands. The Eindhovensche Golf member was in contention for the first two rounds last week in George after rounds of 74 and 70, but was undone by a closing 77 to finish on five-over. Despite her disappointing third round, she finished only seven shots behind in 11th position on her own.

The former Dutch International Open champion could indeed be in contention in the next few weeks as she prepares for a season on the Ladies European Tour Access Series.

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


24th February 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

SA Women’s Masters joy for Fuenfstueck

Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie Laura Fuenfstueck produced a stunning fightback to win the SA Women’s Masters at San Lameer Country Club on Saturday.

The German golfer staved off South African Lejan Lewthwaite, Nobuhle Dlamini from Swaziland and 18-year-old Scottish amateur Shannon McWilliam to claim a maiden victory in just her fifth start in the pro ranks.

The 23-year-old Fuenfstueck took a big leap towards the breakthrough victory when she seized the outright lead with a second round 69.

She began the final day with a handy two-shot cushion over Gemma Batty – another member of the visiting Scottish Golf Women’s National Squad – while Port Shepstone golfer Melissa Eaton and Lewthwaite were three shots back and Dlamini lagged five off the pace.

Fuenfstueck began with two solid pars, but backpedalled fast with double bogeys at three and six, where her ball stayed up in one of the tall palm trees, and further bogeys at nine and 10 dropped her to one-over.

“I was so fortunate to have Rachel (Rossel – Switzerland) on the bag,” said Fuenfstueck.

“She missed the cut and she immediately offered to take the bag. I played decent golf and she kept me going. I wasn’t playing badly; I just didn’t hit it close enough. So I stayed patient in the wind and tried to hit some good shots.”

Dlamini, meanwhile, racked up three successive birdies from the eighth to move to two-under, but a double bogey at 15 put paid to the big-hitting Swazi golfer’s maiden title hopes. She parred her way home and signed for a 72 to set the clubhouse target at even-par 216.

Lewthwaite offset bogeys at six and nine with birdies at seven and 13, but bogeyed both short holes on the back nine. The Benoni golfer carded a 74 to join Dlamini in the clubhouse and McWilliam made it three on level par when she returned a 73.

Fuenfstueck was six-over after 11 holes, but showed great courage to fight her way back into contention with birdies at 12 and 14. A bogey at 15 and par at 16 put her in a three-way tie for second with two holes to play.

“I hit a great tee shot at 17 and a good second and I laid it up where I wanted to,” Fuenfstueck said.

“I had a good yardage in and I knew exactly where I wanted to hit it. The shot came out perfect. I had a 15-footer left for birdie and I saw the line clearly.

“I had a one shot lead, but still had 18 to go. I had a bogey finish in the second round in the back of my mind, so I just tried to hit two good shots into the green. My approach landed right at the back of the green, but my lag-putting was really good this week and didn’t let me down. It was a huge relief to tap-in for the win, and not have to stand over another three-foot putt.”

Fuenfstueck said a top 10 finish in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am changed her mind-set.

“When I came out here, all I wanted was to gain experience and to make the cut,” she said.

“I was really happy when I made my first cut in the Canon Ladies Tshwane Open and I improved every week. After Fancourt I thought that I shouldn’t focus on the cut anymore; I should raise my expectations. It looks like that was the right move.”

Fuenfstueck will join the field next week in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge, presented by Sun International, at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club and finish the season in Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club from 8-10 March.

“I hope I have another good week at the Wild Coast to take momentum to Westlake,” she said. “I only have conditional status on the Ladies European Tour, so I have to make the last event count for me in the rankings. But first things first; we’re going to party tonight.”

McWilliam, meanwhile, will be gunning for a hat-trick of trophies at the Wild Coast Sun.

The 18-year-old, who won the Border Championship by three strokes at East London Golf Club last week, lifted the Sally Little Trophy as the Leading Amateur in the SA Women’s Masters.

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


23rd February 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

SA Women’s Masters heading for showdown

Breezy conditions made for difficult scoring at San Lameer Country Club, but Germany’s Laura Fuenfstueck put together a well-constructed 69 to top the second round leaderboard in the SA Women’s Masters on Friday.

The 23-year-old Fuenfstueck opened up a two shot cushion on five-under 139 over Scottish amateur Gemma Batty and she finished three strokes clear of South African duo Lejan Lewthwaite and Melissa Eaton.

The Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie was not alone in struggling in the wind.

Only 12 players in the field of 78 managed to break par and just seven finished in red numbers, but Fuenfstueck knows she is in a strong position heading into the last day.

“The day started nicely again, but the wind came up and it makes a big difference to this course,” she said. “I hit all the fairways and I positioned myself really well into the greens. But you’re hitting it uphill and downhill on uneven lies and the course is so tight.

“You have to keep it in play to score and it’s tough to do in the wind. I did make some great decisions with my club selection and I putted really well. The wind makes it really difficult, though, to get near the pins. I had a poor finish, but the closing holes are really tough. Even pars feel like a birdies.”

Fuenfstueck travelled to South Africa to gain competitive experience on the Sunshine Ladies Tour before she starts her season on the Ladies European Tour (LET) and LET Access Series.

“I started at the Canon Ladies Tshwane Open and tied for 23rd, and last week I finished 10th in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am. Now I’m in the lead and we’ll see where I finish. I’m just really happy with how much my game has improved and how much I’ve learned.”

Batty carded a two-under 70 and was over the moon to find herself in second place after 36 holes.

“I never expected to be at the front of the field; it’s all new experiences for me,” said the 23-year-oold Scottish Golf Women’s National Squad player.

“I’m just going to play shot-for-shot and enjoy the experience, because it’s a fantastic opportunity. I don’t drive it tremendously far, but I’m pretty straight, so I’m really enjoying this course.”

Batty could become the first amateur to win on the Sunshine Ladies Tour since Ashleigh Buhai (nee Simon) won the South African Women’s Open at Durban Country Club in 2007, but not if Lewthwaite has anything to say about the outcome.

The Benoni golfer won the Amateur title in 2016 with a second place finish and clocked a top 10 finish last year. “I would like to win, yes,” said Lewthwaite. “The first four weeks was a struggle but I’ve turned a corner and I had a great time out there the last two days. If I can birdie the par fives and keep the bogeys off my card in the final round, I can do it.”

Eaton was happy to fly below the radar as she quietly worked her way up the leaderboard with five birdies and two bogeys, but don’t be surprised if the crowd favourite walks in the winning putt at 18 for a second Sunshine Ladies Tour title.

“It was nice to come home and spent time with the family and friends and not to have all the media attention as I had in the past,” she said. “I played really solid today and if I can keep it going, and the wind shows up again, I could be right up there coming down the 18th on Saturday afternoon.”

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


22nd February 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Williams wings her way to the front at San Lameer

Three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Kim Williams was in familiar territory after a four-under-par 68 earned her the first round lead in the SA Women’s Masters on the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal.

Williams eclipsed fine efforts from Norway’s Mariell Bruun, Laura Fuenstueck of Germany, Jamila Jaxaliyeva from Kazakhstan and compatriot Lora Assad as she raced to a two-shot lead at San Lameer Country Club on Thursday.

Williams teaches full-time at Centurion Country Club and a below par start to the 2018 season was expected after 12 months away from competitive golf, but the former number one ranked amateur signalled a return to form with a top five finish in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am last Sunday.

With the greens receptive after 40mm of rain overnight and the weather sunny and warm, Williams made the most of an early start to fire at the flags. She racked up four birdies in her outward loop and she wasn’t the only one cashing in.

Nineteen players in the field of 78 dipped below par through the first nine holes, however, a strong Westerly wind put the brakes on the birdie fest and a big dent in the red numbers.

“The wind came up quite suddenly and club selection was extremely tough, because it gusted and swirled,” said Williams

“It was tough to play the two-to-three club wind and keep a clean card. I parred the first six holes, had a soft drop at seven and then nearly holed out at the ninth. The hole was playing 145 metres downhill with the wind helping from behind.

“I hit a soft 7-iron and it pitched right in front of the flag and rolled up to tap-in distance. It was really nice to finish with a bonus birdie. I knew I could do well coming into the week after I found some really good form last week. Now it’s just a matter of keeping that form going.”

Ladies European Tour Access Series player Bruun made a solid start with a tie for 14th in the Joburg Ladies Open and sealed a joint 16th finish in the Cape Town Ladies Open. She contracted food poisoning during the Dimension Data Pro-Am, but rallied with a final round 74 at the Outeniqua course to close out a top 10 finish.

The Norwegian was feeling confident after stepping off the San Lameer course in joint second.

“I had three birdies and just one bogey and I never missed a fairway. Compared to some of the other courses, this one only measures 5 644 metres (6 171 yards),” said the 23-year-old from Larvik. “I really love this course, because it suits my game. It has a lot of trouble, but I hit it straight and I have a good short game. I rolled it nicely on the greens and hopefully I can warm up the putter some more on Friday.”

Second-season professional Ivanna Samu held a share of the lead after she eagled the par four 12th and birdied 13, but the 19-year-old dropped 14 and finished with a triple bogey seven for a 71.

“I hit my tee shot right and then took on a shot I shouldn’t have,” said Samu. “I should have punched out to the fairway, but I had a clean shot to the green and went for it. As I came through the shot, the wind came up strong and I watched as my ball drifted out of bounds. I live and learn and I’ll come back fighting again tomorrow.”

The chase for the leading amateur prize – the Jackie Mercer Trophy – got off to a fast start.

Scottish Golf Women’s National Squad members Shannon McWilliam and Gemma Batty carded rounds of 71, while 2017 champion Woo-Ju Son finished a further shot back alongside fellow GolfRSA Elite Squad member Zethu Myeki and Swiss amateur Azelia Meichtry.

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