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Bertine and Connie join Annika in Orlando

South African Juniors Bertine Strauss(16) and Connie Chen(15) learned all about the pressure of International Golf when they participated in the inaugural Annika Invitational Junior Championship in Orlando from 16 to 18 January, finishing 21 and 39 respectively in a field of 60 top international juniors. Bertine recorded the best round of the SA girls when on day 2, she signed for a one-under-par 71, the second best score of the day

Starting each day in icy conditions, including 90 minute frost delays at the start of days one and two, the girls began the tournament well, completing the first nine 2 over and 1 over. However a 4-over 9 on the par 5 14th after a bad bounce, led to an unplayable lie contributed to Bertine’s 81 on day one, while Connie recorded a 5-over par 77. Connie felt out of sorts on day two and this was reflected in her golf (84) but she came back on day 3 to return another 77, while Bertine fell back to 80. “The Independence (Watson) Course at the Ginn Reunion Resort was really long – rated 76 – and good chipping and putting skills were essential to get up and down when just short of the green, something we do not have at home,” commented WGSA President Erica Lefson who accompanied the players to the USA.

“The inspiration of the tournament, Annika Sorenstam, was always present and gave great support and encouragement to the players, saying that it is the bad rounds that build up character and make you strong. She is a great mentor and ambassador for the game and included a clinic for the players, gave input to her career and life with her caddy of 9 years, and also shared with the players her five tips on what it takes to be a sports celebrity and how to speak to the media. Her trainer also gave tips to the girls and discussed nutrition.”

Erica also commented on the number of college coaches who attended the event looking for talented players for scholarship offers. There was keen interest in both Bertine and Connie.

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