Dlamini jets to Jabra Ladies Classic lead
Nobuhle Dlamini fired a flawless four-under-par 68 to get off to a flying start in the inaugural Jabra Ladies Classic in Wednesday’s opening round at Glendower Golf Club.
It was a real statement of intent from the reigning Investec Property Fund Order of Merit leader, whose local knowledge came into good use on day one as she laid down a marker for a fourth Sunshine Ladies Tour victory – and the start in the Ladies European Tour’s Jabra Ladies Open that comes with the trophy and winner’s share of the R200 000 prize fund.
The big-hitting Swazi national leads by three strokes from French golfer Anne-Lise Caudal and Lora Assad.
Randpark amateur Kajal Mistry – second in the points race – carded a level-par 72 to tie for fourth with Kim Williams and India’s Tvesa Malik.
Emilie Alonso from France and reigning SA Women’s Long Drive champion Lenanda van der Watt finished a further shot back.
Two years ago, Dlamini fired a final round 67 to force the Sunshine Ladies Tour Classic sponsored by Canon into extra time at Glendower. She traded pars with Carrie Park for the first three trips down the 18 before the South Korean won at the fourth play-off hole.
“I wanted a fast start to put some space between myself and the field because I I don’t want to go down that road again,” admitted the home crowd favourite.
Dlamini started with three straight pars from the 10th hole, but three birdies on the bounce from the par five 13th left the field in her wake. She set the uncontested first round target with a final birdie at the par five eighth.
“I was a little frustrated after I hit it close on the first two holes and missed both birdie putts, but I told myself to relax; I had a lot of holes left,” Dlamini said. “On 13, I hit driver down the middle, 4-iron into the green and two-putted for birdie. If I’d hit the first putt harder, it would have gotten to the hole.
“I had 143 metres at the par three and I hit a 9-iron that pitched and spun back to a foot. On 15, I got caught in the rough with my second, but I nearly holed my chip shot. Made the short putt for birdie and then pars to the turn.
“I made seven straight pars coming home before I birdied the par five (eight). I hit a big drive and 8-iron from 158 metres on the green and two-putted for birdie. I hit lots of fairways and greens and gave myself a lot of chances, but the putting wasn’t great. I didn’t have any three-putts, but I had nine two-putts. I wasn’t comfortable with the putter, but I stayed patient.
“If you hit fairways and greens at Glendower, you will roll one in eventually. It could have been better, but I’ll take 68. I controlled the ball pretty much how I wanted to and I got the cushion I wanted.”
Caudal, a two-time winner on the Ladies European Tour, offset an early bogey at 12 with birdies at 14 and 17 and negated a second dropped shot at the fifth with a birdie at eight to finish under par.
“It was just a solid round. Nothing spectacular; no stretches of brilliance, just a consistent round of golf,” said the Jabra ambassador. “I would love to go home with the trophy on Friday, but I need to get the putter to warm up. I struck the ball well, hit a lot of greens, but just couldn’t get the putts to drop.”
Assad, who is hunting a maiden win, was four-over after seven holes, but got her round back on track with a brace of birdies before the turn and racked up more gains at 14, 15 and 17 for her 71.
“I was a little bit hit and miss on the front, but holed quite a lot of nice putts from the eighth,” said the Texas State graduate. “I just tried to keep hitting fairways and greens to give myself chances and I knew if I got into a rhythm that some would fall and they did. Now I just need to keep it going for two more days.”
Mistry won the Jackie Mercer Trophy as the leading amateur in the Investec SA Women’s Open, heads up the amateur challenge for a sixth successive week.
The GolfRSA Elite Squad player lost the advantage of a birdie start at 10 to a bogey at the par four 12th but turned level par with steady golf over the next six holes. She birdied the first to dip under par again, but bogeyed six and seven before a birdie at eight landed her a share of third. The next best-placed amateurs are 14-year-old Kiera Floyd from Ebotse, Symone Henriques from Glenvista and Nadia van der Westhuizen from Serengeti, who all signed for 74.
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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
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