Dream victory for Du Plessis at SA Stroke play
One off the pace at the start of the day, 35-year-old Yvette du Plessis from Mowbray Golf Club built on earlier rounds of 75 and 76, braving the blustery conditions a final time for a nearly flawless 74.
Embroiled in a three-way battle with overnight co-leader Kim Williams and Bertine Strauss, Du Plessis dropped just one shot en route to a winning score of three-over-par 225.
“I always used to put too much pressure on myself but I’m coming right; I’m much more relaxed out there these days and it’s been a great year,” said Du Plessis, who won the Western Province Stroke play at Rondebosch in March.
“This is a dream victory. I’ve played well in the past but had problems in closing the deal. Today, I remained in control and calm. I have worked so hard over the last year and it was certainly one of my goals to one day lift this trophy.
“This has certainly exceeded all my expectations. I dreamed of this, but never expected to win the Stroke play so soon. I guess now the Matchplay title doesn’t seem an impossible goal at all.”
It was also an emotional victory for the new champion, who dedicated her triumph to her father Fanie du Plessis.
“When my dad retired he put up the sponsorship for me to do this full-time,” she explained. “He never doubted me and he was recently diagnosed with brain cancer. This is as much for him as it is for me.
Du Plessis’s win earns her a trip to America in November as part of the two-payer South Africa side to take part in The Spirit, a biennial international team event to be played at Whispering Pines in Texas.
Centurion’s Williams had some chances to win, as did the country’s number one ranked amateur, Strauss.
Williams took a triple-bogey eight at the par-5 fifth hole but righted ship before the turn to pull level with Du Plessis. The SA number two player came unstuck on the home stretch, three-putting the 15th and 16th on her way to a 77 to finish second, on 227 and two off the pace.
Strauss also threatened for most of the day, especially after she took a seven at the par-5 11th but fought back with birdies at 13 and 14. But she left it all just too late.
The 17-year-old from Rustenburg Golf Club signed off on a 77 for third place on 228 – her best showing in tournament, but as usual, she shrugged off the outcome and rather focussed her attention on the Match Play Championship, which tees off at the same venue over the next three days.
“One down, one to go,” she shrugged. “And tomorrow is another day.”