Samu targets ‘home’ victory in Joburg Ladies Open
South Africa’s Ivanna Samu hopes to use her extensive knowledge of Modderfontein Golf Club as a springboard for success when the Joburg Ladies Open gets underway on Wednesday.
A top five finish in last week’s Canon Ladies Tshwane Open after a month-long injury lay-off was just the shot in the arm the second-season professional needed as she targets a Sunshine Ladies Tour breakthrough in the R500 000 City of Joburg showpiece.
“I aggravated an old wrist injury in early December and I only started practicing after the BMW SA Open,” said the statuesque 19-year-old Ruimsig Country Club golfer.
“I was really anxious and had shocking back nines in the first and second rounds for 76 and 74, but I took control in the final round. Shooting three-under in the last round brought all the confidence back.”
She had a proper spring in her step when she arrived at Modderfontein for Tuesday’s Pro-Am.
“The moment I saw that the Joburg Ladies Open was coming to Modderfontein this year, I was raring to go,” said Samu. “I know this course like the back of my hand, and it’s great to be back.
“I played nearly all my junior golf here; in fact, ask any kid who came through the junior ranks at Gauteng and they will tell you that this is their other ‘home course’. The memories came flooding back when I walked into the clubhouse and I am flush with positive vibes.”
Samu held the number one ranking as an amateur for almost two years and, predictably, was the leading amateur at the end of the 2016 Sunshine Ladies Tour season. She made her pro debut last year, but the reality of the paid ranks was a big wake-up call.
“The transition to the paid ranks was mentally really tough,” said Samu, who signed a deal with Callaway on Monday to become the first female pro to represent the brand in South Africa.
“When you dominate on the amateur circuit, you get comfortable. When I was preparing for my Sunshine Ladies Tour debut on the IGT Challenge Tour, I began to realise how big the gap really is. That first season was a huge eye-opener, from playing at home to going to the First Stage of the LPGA Tour Qualifying School.”
Samu believes testing the water in the United States gave her the perspective to succeed.
“When I played the Sunshine Ladies Tour as an amateur, I played with a lot of freedom and did really well,” she said. “In my first pro season, I should have played the courses; instead I played for my sponsors, my parents, family and friends. I wanted to run before I could walk.
“America taught me that I still have a long road ahead of me and that playing for money comes with a whole set of headaches. What I learned was that the journey to the LPGA Tour is a series of steps and only the exceptional few skip ahead.
“Ultimately I know where I want to end up. To get on the LPGA Tour, I have to earn my stripes. I got some stripes on the IGT Challenge Tour and the Pink Stig Series last year, and I’m earning more stripes on the Sunshine Ladies Tour this season. But just maybe, I can land a trophy along the way.”
A total of 81 players will start the 54-hole Joburg Ladies Open, including 29 local and 31 international professionals plus 21 amateurs, led by the country’s number one ranked junior Woo-Ju Son.
The Latest News
MELKBOSSTRAND - Last year's top amateur, Isabella van Rooyen - who turned professional weeks before the Standard Bank Pro-Am Series at Glendower last month - solidified her status as a force to be reckoned with when she claimed her first professional victory at...
MELKBOSSTRAND - Professional women's golf received a major lift when the Standard Bank Pro-Am Series was played for the first time last year and as the series grows stronger, it's also beginning to attract international talent to play in the eight-month-long season....
MELKBOSSTRAND - The Standard Bank Pro-Am Series goes to the Atlantic Beach Links near Cape Town early in June and while there is excitement about the series' first tournament outside Gauteng, some pros have rung warning alarms about the dangers that lie ahead. In a...