Dlamini joins the battle at Sanlam Women’s SA Amateur

Report from Lali Stander

RUSTENBURG, North West (11 April 2010) – On a day when the next-best round at Rustenburg Golf Club was a frustrating one-over-par 73, Swaziland’s Nobuhle Dlamini fired a four-under-par 68 for a share of the second round lead at the Sanlam Women’s SA Amateur Stroke Play Championship.

“I don’t know what course Nobuhle was playing,” exclaimed overnight leader Iliska Verwey.

Verwey battled a balky putter to a two-over-par 74 to join the 2009 Match Play champion in pole position at three-under-par 141.

Bertine Strauss returned a 73 to finish within two shots of the leaders, while defending champion Kim Williams and Southern Cape’s Monique Smit carded 74s to tie for fourth on even-par 144.

Henriëtte Frylinck slipped into sixth on one over 145 with another 74.

Dlamini started the round with a shaky par-birdie-bogey combination, but soon got her putter under control.

“I just decided to relax with the putter,” said Dlamini, who completed the first loop in 36 and knocked in birdies at the 11th, 14th, 16th and 18th over a faultless back nine.

“I was way too tense over the first couple of holes. I missed a couple of opportunities on the front nine, but I really got the putter going coming home.”

She is relishing the chance to challenge in the final round. “It’s really nice to be challenging again,” said the 19-year-old University of Pretoria student.

“It’s been a while since I stood in the winner’s circle, so I’m going all out. The final round is going to be really exciting. All the top golfers still in the mix; it’s still a very open contest.”

Verwey endured 12 months of frustration before her game fell into place early this year but today’s round was a sharp reminder of quickly things can change.

“I played really well yesterday,” said Verwey, who won the Eastern Cape Match Play, the Western Province Match Play and Stroke Play and the double at the Kwa-Zulu Natal Championships and lived up to her pre-tournament billing with an opening 67 to finish three shots clear of her challengers.

“I birdied the second hole to get to six under, but lost my advantage with bogeys at eight and nine,” the 22-year-old from Craddock explained. “I struggled for rhythm all the way today. The course was a little wet when we set off, so the shots into the greens were a little longer. The pins were also really tucked away today, so you couldn’t really attack the holes.

“But mostly I struggled to get the putter going. I missed a lot of putts. I even had a three-putt, that hasn’t happened in a long while.”

Playing at her home course, Strauss also struggled with the short stick. “It was just one of those days where the putter behaved at one hole and didn’t at the next,” she said. “Tomorrow it could all change.”

But Williams, who won both the Match Play and Stroke Play last year, said she needs to putter to come to the party if she hopes to challenge in the final round.

“Tournaments are won or lost on the greens,” said the 24-year-old from Pretoria. “I’ve been struggling for two days to get my putter warned up. It’s just been really frustrating, because I’m hitting the ball well and my short game is on song.

“I might have to stick it in the microwave before we start the final round.”

In the B-Division (10-18 handicaps), Woo Ju Son continued her winning march.

Successive 85s sees the 10-year-old six strokes clear of her nearest challenger, 13-year-old Shawnelle de Lange from Fochville. And Son has set herself some pretty steep goals ahead of the final round.

“I want to cut my handicap to nine so I can play in the championship division next year,” the 10-handicapper said. “I have to win by at least nine or 10 shots. That will be a good performance for me.”

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