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Introducing SA Rising Star Kiera Floyd

South African junior golf rising star Kiera Floyd

Ekurhuleni golfer Kiera Floyd made junior golf history when she beat a predominantly male field at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club with a seven-under 65 at the East Course to become the first female champion on the Bridge Fund Managers Junior Series last year.

Just 13 at the time, the Ebotse junior was equally impressive at the start of the season when she made the cut in both her Sunshine Ladies Tour starts – the Canon Tshwane Ladies Open and the Joburg Ladies Open.

Gathering confidence, Kiera was instrumental in helping Ekurhuleni to a runner-up finish in the WGSA Women’s 72-Hole Championship.

The GolfRSA B-Squad player took that form to Indonesia, where she finished fourth in the 13-14 age group at the Himbara World Junior Golf Championships, presented by Ciputra, at the Damai Inda Golf Club.

In October, Kiera played a pivotal role in Ekurhuleni’s first-ever victory in the SA Women’s IPT at Devonvale. She won all three Singles and amassed 2.5 points for the team in the Foursomes to share Most Valuable Player honours with team-mate Nadia van der Westhuizen.

But it was on the national circuit that Kiera really blossomed.

She finished second in the Nomads SA Girls Rose Bowl, fifth in the SA Women’s Stroke Play Championship and broke through for her first senior success in the Gauteng North Women’s Open Championship in July. Four months later, she capped a remarkable Open Amateur season with a second trophy finish in the Mpumalanga Open, which boosted her into the top 10 on the Open Amateur Rankings.

We caught up with this remarkable rising star ahead of the season-finale KwaZulu-Natal Junior Championship to find out more about the girl behind the powerful swing and big match temperament.

BORN: 6 October 2004
RESIDENCE: Ebotse Golf Estate
SCHOOL & GRADE: Home Zone Edu-Centre in Benoni; Grade 8
WGSA Ranking Open Amateur: 8 (1 December 2018)
WGSA Ranking Junior: 5 (1 December 2018)

RECENT CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
1st – 2018 Mpumalanga Open
1st – 2018 Gauteng North Women’s Open Championship
2nd – Nomads SA Girls Rose Bowl Championship
2nd – Gauteng North Junior Girls Championship
T3 – SA Women’s Inter-Provincial (Stroke Play Qualifier)
T4 – Nomads SA Girls Championship
T5 – South African Women’s SA Women’s Stroke Play Championship
5th – WGSA Women’s 72-Hole Championship (Individual Competition)
1st – 2017 Bridge Fund Managers Junior Series (Royal Johannesburg & Kensington)
Two-time winner in 2018 Ekurhuleni Junior Golf Competitions

TELL US FIVE THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF THAT MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW
1. I have four sisters and one brother
2. I am an all-round sports fanatic
3. I love playing tennis and swimming
4. My favourite food is Sushi
5. I love watching movies

STILL ON THE BUCKET LIST
I want to win the junior double – the Nomads Girls Rose Bowl and Nomads Girls Championship – and the SA Women’s Stroke Play and SA Women’s Match Play titles. My ultimate goal is to win the Investec SA Women’s Open. I would also love to experience shark-cage diving one and to swim with dolphins.

Q – Are you the sort of golfer who sets yearly goals? If so, what goals did you set for yourself to achieve in 2018 and beyond?
KF – My goals for 2018 was to make the cuts in the Sunshine Ladies Tour events and to win my first Open Amateur title. For 2019, I’ve set myself the goal of earning national colours and representing South Africa abroad.

Q – How tough was the transition from the junior ranks to the senior circuit?
KF – It was tough. The atmosphere is more serious and the standards are very high. The most difficult thing about travelling is being away from home for a long period of time and getting used to travelling long distances to foreign countries. My school work used to suffer, but now that I am attending a ‘home school’ it’s a lot easier to fit my work in around my schedule and that takes a lot of pressure of my game. My game improved and I could see the standards that I needed to set for myself and I was able to change my routine to meet my goals.

Q – You played in quite a few Sunshine Ladies Tour events this season. Did you enjoy the experience and did it impact positively on your game?
KF – Yes, I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely a lot tougher competing against the pros, because they are out there doing it for a living. But everyone was friendly and so helpful, which I really appreciated. It definitely had a positive effect on my game. I raised my standards and it helped me to change my attitude and mental approach to the game. Watching the pro’s keep calm taught me a big lesson.

Q – If you had to pick up one animal to describe you, what would it be and why?
KF – A lion because they are strong, determined and control their own destiny

Q – Talk to us about the strengths of your game and what are the weaknesses or aspects of the game you still need to attend to.
KF – My strengths are my drives and long irons. My putting and my chipping around the greens is also strong, but my weakness is pitch shots from 80 metres out.

Q – Describe the best meal you’ve had while on the road and where you had it.
KF – At a Sushi bar in Cape Town

Q – Where and when did your love affair with golf start?
KF – My mother is a tennis coach at the club and while I was waiting for her, I started messing around with golf clubs. When I was seven, the coaches at Benoni Country Club introduced me to the game.
One of the coaches said I had talent and decided to help me. I joined Stix and Stones, a junior kids group, and they coached me. Essentially, they gave me the skill set and encouragement I needed to advance in the game.
I started to play SA Kids Golf tournaments and when I was eight, I qualified for my first international event – the Euro Kids Golf Championship in Scotland. I won my age category and that really encouraged me and gave me the belief in my ability and game.
The following year I played the Kids Golf Championship in the USA, where I finished third in my age group. That experience was something really special. I love competing against golfers with different abilities from all over the world.
When my coaches moved away at Benoni Country Club, I joined the Grant Veenstra Junior Golf Academy at Ebotse. Grant changed my game and moulded me into the player I have become.

Q – Which tournaments would you most like to win and why?
KF – I would like to begin next year by winning the amateur competition in a Sunshine Ladies Tour event. The Nomads SA Junior double and the SA women’s Amateur double is next on the list, and the SA Women’s Open is my ultimate goal.

Q – What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
KF – Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard

Q – What is your favourite season and why?
KF – Summer. I love the warm weather and a nice, if patchy, tan from playing golf.

Q – Is there anything you are addicted to or can’t live without?
KF – Sushi and golf

Q – Tell us about something you hate doing and why?
KF – I hate studying. It uses up time that I could have used doing the things I like.

Q – As a child, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
KF – I’ve wanted to be a professional golfer since I was seven.

Q – What’s your favourite club in your bag?
KF – I have three favourites: my driver, my 3-wood and my putter.

Q – Describe yourself in one word.
KF – Ambitious

Q – What movie can you watch again and again and why?
KF – Pitch perfect, Jumanji and Happy Gilmore. I love a good story and humour.

Q – Tell us about three things you consider yourself to be really good at.
KF – Concentration, determination and hard work.

Q – What three things would you want to have on a deserted island and why?
KF – Food, water and my golf clubs.

Q – If golf wasn’t an option, what profession would pursue and why?
KF – Tennis would be my second choice. I compete in the Benoni Country Club Championships every year and I won the women’s doubles this year.

Q – If they made a movie about your life, which actress would you pick to play you and why?
KF – Katnis Evergreen. People often tell me that I look like her and I love her fighting spirit.

Q – What are your biggest fears?
KF – Snakes in the rough, spiders anywhere and failure.

Q – What advice would you give youngsters just starting in the game?
KF – Set yourself goals. Be determined. Keep cool. Work hard. Never ever give up and play your own game. And remember that it’s the course you have to beat. Stick to this and success will come to you.