Young guns set for Investec SA Women’s Open experience
Nine of South Africa’s future golfing talents are poised to soak up the experience of competing on golf’s biggest stage when they tee it up in the Investec SA Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club on Thursday.
Led by GolfRSA Elite Squad members Caitlyn Macnab and Samantha Whateley, the group of amateurs will be competing for the honour of etching their name on the Jackie Mercer Trophy as the leading amateur in the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s flagship event, co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour.
Macnab cut her teeth on the local circuit this season and not surprisingly, starts the week as the overwhelming favourite with two top five finishes and a victory to her name.
South Africa’s leading amateur was fourth in the Cape Town Ladies Open, second in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge and became the first amateur to triumph on the local pro circuit since Ashleigh Buhai’s SA Women’s Open win in 2007 with her breakthrough in the Jabra Ladies Classic at Glendower.
A niggling knee injury forced Macnab to withdraw from the Joburg Ladies Open, but the double SA Women’s Amateur champion says she is ready for the fight in Cape Town.
“I didn’t feel comfortable yet in the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge at Fancourt last week, but I feel that I’m back to full strength this week,” said the 19-year-old Serengeti.
“I am so excited about the week ahead. It has been an amazing experience to play almost a full season this year. The amount you absorb from playing with the professionals is difficult to quantify, but it definitely impacts on your game.“I have been really fortunate that Nicole Garcia and Stacy Bregman, who both play on the Ladies European Tour, took me under their wings. And my coach Grant Veenstra has been amazing, preparing me for the mental pressure on the pro circuit.
“It has been a huge learning curve, building experience on the Sunshine Ladies Tour and learning from the pros and I hope I can put everything into practice this week to finish the season on a high note.”
Whateley also arrived at Westlake with some good form.
Since the start of the season, the 17-year-old Country Club Johannesburg has risen to third in the GolfRSA Open Amateur rankings and second in the Junior standing, having racked up top-10 finishes in all her starts, including second in the Nomads SA Girls Rose Bowl Championship at the end of April and third in the ProShop Gauteng Open this past weekend.
Whateley hopes to give Macnab a run for her money, but her first priority is to get past the spectacle of her debut on the pro circuit.
“When Womens Golf South Africa offered me the chance to play this week, I jumped at it, because I think the experience is going to so valuable, but it’s easy to let yourself be intimidated by the occasion and playing with the pros,” Whateley said.
“I am doing my best to focus on the golf and forget about everything else. I think once I get that opening tee shot out of the way on Thursday, I will be able to treat this as any other golf tournament and play the course shot for shot.”
Recent Nomads SA Girls Rose Bowl champion Isabella van Rooyen finished 18th in the Cape Town Ladies Open.
“I hope I can do better in my second start on the Sunshine Ladies Tour,” said the 16-year-old Clovelly golfer. “I realised playing Royal Cape that I put too much pressure on myself that I forgot to play my own game. I’ve had the test run, so this week, my first goal will be to make the cut. And after that, just to stick to playing my own game and we’ll see where that leaves me.”
The other amateurs lining up at Westlake includes the country’s number two-ranked Kaylah Williams, former SA Women’s Amateur champion Jordan Rothman, Shani Brynard, Odette Booysen, Katia Schaff and mid-amateur standout Nina Grey.
Follow the live scoring on www.sunshineladiestour.com
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
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