Golf RSA Elite Squad set for SA Women’s Open

All but one of the 2017 Golf RSA Elite Squad will be in action at this week’s prestigious SA Women’s Open at San Lameer Country Club in pursuit of the prestigious Jackie Mercer Trophy.

Kajal Mistry, Kaleigh Telfer and Zethu Myeki – respectively ranked first, second and third in the Womens Golf South Africa senior standings – and on-the-rise juniors Symone Henriques and Caitlyn Macnab will be part of the 19-strong amateur lining up in the third Sunshine Ladies Tour event, sponsored by the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality, from 26 – 28 January.

The first Golf RSA Elite Squad camp left the players are brimming with confidence and excitement and hopeful of emulating two-time SA Women’s Open champion Ashleigh Buhai (nee Simon), who etched her name on the prestigious trophy four times from 2004 to 2007.

The camp was hosted at Tuks High Performance Centre from 12-15 January and Mistry and Telfer had the chance to put some of the drills from the camp into practice in last week’s SA Women’s Masters at Rondebosch Golf Club.

The pair tied for 19th with professionals Melissa Eaton, Mandy Adamson and Lejan Lewthwaite, among others, but lost the leading amateur chase to Western Province amateur Katia Schaff.

The Austrian-born golfer edged out Mistry, Telfer and Slovakian amateur Laila Hrindova on a count-out on 227 to lift the first Sally Little Trophy.

“The camp was very comprehensive and insightful and it definitely started paying off for me last week in Rondebosch,” said 16-year-old Mistry from Randpark. “There was definitely something for everyone to improve their game, whether mental, physical or technical.

“I picked up a number of things that will help me, but learning how to play those tricky 30 to 40 meter bunker shots was great. It’s always been a weakness in my game and I had so much more confidence to face that kind of trap shot at Rondebosch last week.”

Sport psychologist Maretha Claasen dealt with the mental side of the game, while Sandra Winter worked out tailor-made programmes to improve the players’ form and endurance during the camp.

National coach Val Holland and assistant coach Anna Frankel-Becker took the six players through the technical side of the game and Constanza (Tussoni) from Trackman gave them figures around their distances via Trackman.

“It’s was an eye-opener in some respects for all of us and I am glad that I teed it up in the SA Women’s Masters with everything still fresh in my mind,” said reigning Sanlam SA Women’s Stroke Play champion Telfer.

“It’s tough to break old habits, so playing in Cape Town helped to drill some of the new ideas into my game. Hopefully I can do even better at San Lameer this week.”

The players had their first look at the course in Tuesday’s practice round and Mistry was baffled to see just how much the wind changes the course in Wednesday’s early practice.

“It was pretty much wind-still on Tuesday, but this morning the wind roared at 35 to 40 km per hour,” she said. “I hit three-wood, gap-wedge into six on Tuesday, and I needed to go three-wood, three-wood to reach the green today. I hit a seven-iron into the ninth yesterday, but today I had to go with a four-iron. It’s amazing how this course shows its teeth when the wind blows.

“Yes, I’d love to put my name on the Jackie Mercer Trophy, but just playing the SA Women’s Open is unforgettable and I’m going to learn a lot at this course this week.”

The sixth member of the Golf RSA Elite Squad is Sarah Bouch, who could not make the trip to San Lameer due to a previous engagement.

“This year we decided not to select any matriculants,” Olivant said. “We have found that the matriculants battle to juggle the school workload and golf and we did not want to put unnecessary pressure on them. We believe we have selected a strong squad this year as we build for the 2018 World Amateur Team Championship.”

PHOTO – Golf RSA Elite Squad in action during their first camp at the Tuks HPC from 12-15 January 2017.
From left to right – Sarah Bouch, Kaleigh Telfer, Symone Henriques, Zethu Myeki, Caitlyn Macnab and Kajal Mistry.

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