17th October 2014 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Weather wins at SA Womenâ€™s Open
Mother Nature once again railroaded the start of the Cell C SA Women’s Open, leaving more than half the field to return to action this morning to complete the first round at San Lameer Country Club this morning.
A heavy thunderstorm hit the South Coast on Thursday afternoon, leaving the greens waterlogged and unplayable within an hour. As greenstaff battled to clear the puddles, a second storm hit that rendered the course unplayable and play was called off at 16h00.
This caused a serious case of de-ja-vu among the late starters, who had to pick up where they left off and were greeted by a robust south-westerly, pumping at nearly 35 km per hour.
The 2013 edition of South Africa’s flagship event was reduced to 18 holes after Southbroom took a wet beating last year.
However, given that this year’s championship has increased to a 72-hole event, officials remain optimistic that there will be at least 54 holes of play if the rain abates.
England’s Rebecca Hudson, the champion in 2006, and Germany’s Steffi Kirchmayr were high and dry in the clubhouse, having set the early target at three-under-par 69 when the siren sounded.
South Africa’s top golf export, Lee-Anne Pace, recent Ladies European Tour winner Connie Chen, KwaZulu-Natal’s Melissa Easton and 16-year-old amateur Bryanston amateur, Kaleigh Telfer, lead the South African challenge at two under.
All four players racked up two birdies each to get within a shot of the pacesetters. Pace and Chen completed nine holes, Eaton was through 15 holes and Telfer had just teed off at her seventh hole when play was suspended.
Chen, who broke through for her maiden win in Europe at the Tenerife Open de España in September, was thrilled to be in contention.
“I wanted to get in a good round on the first day, to give myself a chance this week,” the 21-year-old Gauteng professional. “It’s nice to have a solid start to work from. It was a real blow when the rain hit, because I was going along really nice. I waited very long for that first win, but it’s given my confidence a healthy boost and I want to ride that feeling us much as I can.”
Charley Hull from England and the American Beth Allen also climbed to at three under, but respectively had eight and nine holes still to play.
Meanwhile LET rookies Kim Williams and Nicole Garcia are hoping for a solid finish on home soil to boost their Order of Merit rankings to keep their cards for the 2015 season. The par will watch the developments today with interest after both opened with rounds of 75s to finish around the top 50 mark.
Photo – Connie Chen; credit Justin Klusener.