Garcia joins Williams, Dlamini at LET Q-School
Ekurhuleni’s Nicole Garcia celebrated her 23rdbirthday in high spirits on Wednesday, after successfully crossing the first hurdle in her campaign to secure a card for the 2014 Ladies European Tour.
The country’s number four ranked amateur claimed a top 10 finish at one of three pre-qualifying events to make the field for the ultimate test, Final Stage of the Lalla Aicha Tour School this weekend.
Having successfully steered her way through the curtain-raiser, Garcia will join fellow amateurs – SA number one Kim Williams and number two, Nobuhle Dlamini from Swaziland – in the field of 109 hopefuls at the Samanah Golf Club & Al Maaden Golf Resort in Marakesh on Saturday.
Garcia was one of seven top South African golfers among 90 players from over 15 countries who bid for a berth in Morocco at the B and C Pre-Qualifiers at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam, but the only one who celebrated a successful run.
Ekurhuleni Womens Golf’s Player of the Year teed it up alongside former Sanlam SA Amateur champion Iliska Verwey, Alana van Greuning and Tijana Kraljevic, campaigning for one of 15 spots on offer in the C-Qualifier at the Blue Course.
Henriette Frylinck, Maggie du Toit and Nicole Loesch played the Red Course, 23 spots up for grabs. Frylinck, who was lying tied 21st after 3 rounds, unfortunately ruined her chances with a final round of 89.
Garcia carded rounds of 74-78-76-75 and claimed a joint seventh place on 15-over-par 303.
“The Blue Course played very long and tight for us girls, and I think it was a good practice run for the final stage,” Garcia said. She was also full of praise for friend and caddie, Grant Veenstra, a Sunshine Tour professional.
“Grant was an incredible support. He kept me calm and kept my mind focussed on my game and I benefitted from his years on Tour. I’m hitting the ball great, too, but I just need some more putts to drop next week and I’ll have a good chance to get my card.”
The 57 pre-qualifiers will go up against players exempt from pre-qualifying from the Ladies European Tour and LET Access Series and the field will be completed by amateurs from the top 25 of the Women’s World Amateur Rankings at the close of entries, which includes Williams and Dlamini, ranked sixth and seventh respectively.
The Lalla Aicha Tour School Final Qualifying tees off from 14-17 December, followed by a cut to the top 60 players and ties who will compete in the final round on 18 December.
Only the top 30 players and ties will be offered category 8A membership to secure their playing privileges on the Ladies European Tour for the 2014 season and Garcia, Williams and Dlamini will hope to join Lee-Anne Pace, Ashleigh Simon, Connie Chen and Stacy Bregman in increasing South Africa’s numbers in Europe.