African Challenge to SA Ladies at Sanlam SA Amateur
Sanlam’s 2009 SA Women’s Amateur Championships welcomes for the first time women golfers from six African states who will no doubt present a strong challenge to their South African hosts. Heading this group are Zambia’s Melissa Nawa, Swaziland’s Nobuhle Dlamini (both aged 17) and 16 year-old Namibian Bonita Bredenhann.
The 92nd SA Women’s Amateur Championship kicks off at the pristine Royal Cape golf course on 19 April, sponsored by Sanlam for the fifth consecutive year. The impressive field of 143 players, including 28 of South Africa’s top 30 players, compete over 54 holes to determine the South African Stroke Play Champion. The 32 qualifiers will then contend for the Match Play Championship over the following three days, culminating in a 36-hole final on 24 April. Current holder of the “double’ is British International Breanne Loucks.
On current form, top SA ladies Rustenburg’s Bertine Strauss and Kim Williams (Centurion), both on +1, are expected to battle it out for top honours. Bertine was victorious in the Eastern Cape and Western Province Match Play Championships this year, and leading up to the SA Amateur, Kim claimed the KZN double, the North West Stroke Play Championship and was top amateur at the SA Open in recent weeks.
Number three ranked Connie Chen currently at the top of her game and matriculant Monique Smit competing in limited events this year, could certainly upset the current favourites. Other strong contenders on scratch handicaps are WP Stroke Player Champion Mowbray’s Yvette du Plessis, Vryburg’s Nicole Becker, recent winner of the Eastern Cape Stroke Play Championship, Tiffany Avern-Taplin (Southbroom), Mareli Joubert (Woodhill), Henriette Frylinck (Waterkloof) and Tanica van As (Humewood), who has recently returned from college in the USA.
For the first time in this championship, the top golfers from Nigeria, Tanzania (Dar es Salaam), Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Swaziland will be competing. Nigeria’s number one lady golfer Uloma Mruko plays off scratch, as do Nobuhle Dlamini and Bonita Bredenhann. Zimbabwean Claire Minter is a 1 handicap, while Melissa Nawa, off 3, is expected to impress. Melissa was victorious in the 2008 Egyptian Open when she defeated Bonita Bredenhann and Monique Smit in a play-off and is also the Ugandan Ladies Open champion. She was crowned 2008 Zambia Sports Women of the Year, having won the Zambian Open in 2006 and 2007.
Should the Stroke Play Champion be a South African national, she will be one of two players to represent her home country at The Spirit, a biennial tournament at played at Whispering Pines, Texas from 1 – 8 November 2009.