Former SA top amateur Van Rooyen claims maiden professional victory at Atlantic Beach
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 Atlantic Beach Links on Wednesday.
The second tournament of the Standard Bank Pro-Am Series teed off outside of Gauteng for the first time since the eight-tournament series was first played, and in just her second start in the series, the 19-year old Royal Cape Golf Club player showed her pedigree. Following a round of four-under-par 68 to tie the top spot with her good friend and playing mate, Larissa du Preez in regulation, things had to come down to sudden death to decide the winner.
“I enjoyed it a lot,” said an elated Van Rooyen who had her father on the bag for her maiden win as a professional golfer. “I love playing with Larissa and if there’s anyone that I could a playoff with, it’s her, so I was happy it turned out this way. I kind of felt like I could win but I come here to win, obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t play if I didn’t think I could win. I’m hitting the ball nicely and it’s good to finally get it done.
“I think it’s good to win this early in my career but what I think is even better is the fact that Standard Bank is giving us opportunities to play these events just because the Sunshine Tour events end at the beginning of the year, so to have more tournaments to play and compete at a high level, is really helping.”
A rather shaky start yielded a bogey for Van Rooyen on Wednesday but the country’s former number one amateur recovered with the expertise of a veteran. She made four straight pars before finally making a birdie to bring it back to level-par. She followed that up with three straight pars before making four birdies in the next six holes. Then, she dropped on 16 but closed off with a birdie to tie du Preez who still had two holes to play.
“I played some solid approach shots,” she said, explaining what she felt were the strongest aspects of her game on Wednesday, “I didn’t hit a lot of greens on the first nine, which doesn’t usually happen, but it’s fine. But I was hitting most of the fairways; I think I hit 12 fairways today but I think my approach shots were a little bit better than usual and I started to hit a few more greens on the back nine and I was able to make a few putts.”
Du Preez finished with a brace of pars to secure a playoff with Van Rooyen who was already in the clubhouse on four-under.
On the first play-off hole Van Rooyen rolled her birdie-putt cooly into the hole while Du Preez left hers short, effectively handing Van Rooyen her maiden professional win.
The trio of Namibia’s Bonita Bredenhann, Shawnelle de Lange and Zethu Myeki shared the third spot on two-under-par whilst Brittney-Fay Berger, Francesca Cuturi and Kim Williams signed for one-under 71 to finish joint sixth in the first Standard Bank Pro-Am Series tournament to be hosted in Cape Town.
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