Dlamini claims wire-to-wire victory at Sanlam Women’s SA Stroke Play
Lali Stander reports
UMHLALI (18 April 2012) – Swaziland’s Nobuhle Dlamini survived a late round wobble to end a three year wait with a brilliant wire-to-wire victory in the Sanlam Women’s Amateur SA Stroke Play Championship at Umhlali Country Club on Tuesday.
The Tuks Golf Academy student started with an eight shot lead and fired a final round two-over-par 73 to put the seal on a magnificent performance and a runaway victory.
Dlamini finished a full 10 shots clear of Mpumalanga’s Izel Pieters, who parred the last eight holes for a 73 to sneak into second ahead of Free State amateur Lumien Orton and 17-year-old rising star, Lara Weinstein. Orton, back on the circuit after a year-long lay-off, carded a 76 while Weinstein saved her best golf for the final round and signed off on a 72.
“I am just completely overwhelmed at this moment,” said a smiling Dlamini, after popping in the winning putt under thunderous applause from her peers surrounding the 18th green. “This means so much to me. To lift this trophy after trying and coming close for three years, tells me I can really compete. I won the Sanlam SA Match Play in 2009, but this victory tells me I can play, really play.”
And play, she certainly can. In the windy conditions over the first two rounds, Dlamini was the only player in the A-Division field of 105 golfers to break par. After an opening 70 and second round 69, she started the final round with an almost unassailable lead. “I was really nervous, starting with an eight shot lead,” she said. “I didn’t know if I should play to protect my lead or if I should just get aggressive and shoot for a low score.
“The birdie at the first hole did a lot to calm my nerves, but I struggled a little with the putter. I dropped a few shots over the front nine, but when we turned, I realised I had a 13 shot lead. I told myself to just shoot for par and not to be a hero.”
Dlamini birdied the 10th and par-four 14th, but added to bogeys at the third and seventh with a double at the 15th and a final bogey at 17.
“I had been struggling with my driver all day and I pushed my tee shot way right out of bounds at the 15th,” she explained. “If you make that kind of a mistake at this course, you have to take your medicine and for me it was a big six.
“I pushed the driver right again at 17th, , managed to get on to the green, but the putter let me down.”
But Dlamini felt that she really showed her maturity at the final hole. “I was looking down at the pin position on 18 and I knew I could go for it. A year ago I would have gone for it, no doubt. But the adrenaline was really pumping. So I dialled it back and took a lesser club and just aimed for the right of the green.”
She ended up with a 30-foot putt for birdie, which she lagged up to the pin, but to the great disappointment of the crowd, it stopped just half a foot short of the hole.”I guess it would have been great if the ball rolled two more times and dropped. But par still did the job.”
Since joining the Tuks Golf Academy at the University of Pretoria last year, Dlamini has come on in leaps and bounds.
She showed her determination when she successfully defended her title as the University of Pretoria’s Women’s Club Champion by shooting a 36-hole total gross score of 125 (-19) at Centurion Country Club this February and underlined her growing stature with victories this year at the Eastern Cape Match Play and Stroke Play, the North West Stroke Play and KwaZulu-Natal Match Play.
Now, with her first big goal crossed off, the next item on her agenda is the Sanlam Women’s SA Amateur Match Play coming up in July at Benoni Country Club. “There are a few other tournaments that I would also like to win, but I would love to win the double. It’s been one of my goals since the beginning of the season and that’s what I’ve been working towards.
“To own the double title will be a dream come true.”
Meanwhile 12-year-old Chiara Contomathios from Edenvale produced the goods in a thrilling final round to win the B-Division.
The 10-handicap golfer held off a spirited challenge from experienced Namibian amateur, Wilna Bredenhann.
Contomathios fired rounds of 89-83-80 for a total score of 39-over-par 252 and a one stroke victory over last year’s runner-up. “I’m absolutely over the moon,” gushed the teenager. “This means I move to the A-Division and that means I can compete in the A-Division at the Match Play and in the Glacier Junior Series. Winning just rocks.”
But not quite as thrilled as the man who put his job on hold for the week to do bag duty. “My nerves were shot over the last three holes, because Wilna is a tough competitor,” said dad Manny Contamathios. “But Chiara held it together and I am so very proud of her. It was worth all the blood, sweat and tears of the last two years to see her lift the trophy.”
A-DIVISION TOP 30
212 Nobuhle Dlamini 70-69-73
222 Izel Pieters 75-74-73
224 Lumien Orton 77-71-76; Lara Weinstein 75-77-72
225 Megan Bisset 76-71-78
226 Oliviale Roux 80-75-71
228 Magda Kruger 79-77-72; Bianca Theron 75-75-78; Francesca Cuturi 74-81-73
229 Kim Williams 78-76-75; Eugenie Clack 76-75-78; Michaela Fletcher 73-78-78
230 Claire Minter 79-76-75; Talia Nel 77-78-75; Simone Burger 74-81-75
231 Bonita Bredenhann 80-72-79; Lora Assad 78-72-81; Amy Henning 76-79-76; Cara Bella Gorlei 76-76-79
233 Leanke Vlok 85-76-72; Monja Richards 80-77-76; Alana van Greuning 78-80-75
234 Nicole Erasmus 77-73-84
235 Lauren Bekker 77-80-78; Elzanne Kent 76-77-82; Michelle Leight 74-82-79
236 Carrie Park 86-73-77; Nicole Loesch 76-80-80
237 Bianca Lohbauer 82-77-78; Lauren Sobotker 79-79-79
B-DIVISION TOP 10 (handicaps in brackets)
252 Chiara Contomathios (10) 89-83-80
253 Wilna Bredenhann (10) 86-85-82
259 Jhanelle Strydom (13) 87-87-85
261 Kim de Klerk (11) 87-89-85
263 Natalie Singer (12) 88-88-87
266 Joan Solms (15) 90-89-87; Wendy Frost (12) 86-89-91; Brittney-Fay Berger (12) 85-89-92
277 Wendy Fouche (11) 93-88-96
278 Lydia Muhl (14) 90-95-93