Fletcher claims hat-trick at Pam Golding Properties WP Champs

It is hardly surprising that Michaela Fletcher has earned the nick name “Match Play Queen” from her peers, considering the amicable 18-year-old Maritzburg golfer claimed her third consecutive Match Play title at the Pam Golding Properties WGWP Championship on Tuesday.

Fletcher launched her outstanding run with a 3 & 2 win over Mae Cornforth at the Eastern Province Championship in February. Earlier this month, she collected her second title at the KwaZulu-Natal Championship, where she defeated Carmia van Wyk 4 & 2 and on Tuesday, Fletcher sealed her hat-trick at Somerset West Golf Club, beating Cornforth 3 & 2 again.

Fletcher defeated Marguerite Pienaar and Desiree Geldenhuys from Southern Cape 3 & 2 and 6 & 5 in the first and second rounds respectively, and local favourite Ji Sun Kang in the semi-final.

“I expected a tough match against Ji Sun and had to overcome three early bogeys, but I turned it around with five birdies and took the match at the last hole,” Fletcher said.

“Mentally and physically, it was a really tough match, and then I had to psyche myself up again, because I knew from experience that playing Mae would be another tough battle.”

Cornforth set a course for the final by beating Sammy Barber from the Western Province 2 & 1 in round one, defeating Gauteng North’s Magda Kruger 4 & 3 in the second round and getting past WP Stroke Play champion Ivanna Samu from Gauteng in the semi-final 2 & 1.

The North West champion handed Fletcher early control with a bogey at the par-four third.

Both players birdied the fourth, but Fletcher reeled in back-to-back birdies at the sixth and seventh to go 3-up. Both players played to par through the turn, but Fletcher widened the gap with a birdie at the 11th.

“Mae answered with a birdie at the 13th and shortened the gap,” Fletcher said.

“I just focussed on making pars over the next couple of holes. Mae couldn’t find another birdie, though, and I won with two holes to play.

“I guess on paper it might look like an easy win, but it was a tough match. Match play is such a tricky format; you can’t afford to let your guard down for a minute, because things change very quickly.

“It all came down to my putter, really.”

Fletcher was notably pleased to notch her third match play title this early in the season, but has the Sanlam SA Stroke Play Championship in April in her sights now.

“I’m very pleased that I could keep my record going and it’s really fantastic to hold an unbeaten record in the match play championships,” she said.

“I’ve definitely gained a lot of experience this season, both in our amateur events and playing against the pros. I feel like I can win the SA Stroke Play, but I need to take that belief to Stellenbosch Golf Club and make it happen.

“I want to take it to the next level. I’ve won the Sanlam Cancer Challenge and I would love to own another Sanlam title.”

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