Kang beats heat to lead Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur

On a day hot enough to melt the face of a driver, Western Province golfer Ji Sun Kang opened with a level-par 72 to lead the first round of the Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Stellenbosch Golf Club on Sunday.

With temperatures close to 40 degrees Celsius, Kang took a one-stroke lead over Stellenbosch local Crystal Beukes.

South African number one Magda Kruger from Gauteng North finished the day on two over alongside KwaZulu-Natal’s Brittney-Fay Berger, and Ivannu Samu and Woo-Ju Son of Gauteng after their rounds of 74.

Kang was in good form coming into this event, having won the Boland Junior Championships, finished second in the Western Province Junior Championships and second in the Nomads SA Rose Bowl Championship last week.

“I felt confident coming into this tournament and I’m happy with my opening 72,” Kang said. “I just need to keep doing the same over the next two days, and perhaps work a bit on staying calmer out on the course.”

The mental aspect of her game was called upon early in her round when she found herself two over through the first three holes.

But Kang was able to get back to level for the round after nine holes. A back nine of three birdies, one bogey and a double bogey was still enough to give her the lead.

“The course was playing really long, but I hit my driver well and hit a lot of greens,” said the 18-year-old.

At one shot behind her, 13-year-old Beukes was pleased with her 73 despite going to the turn with four bogeys in five holes, and this after a great start where she birdied her first two holes.

“I had a few bad holes there but I just had to get over it. The course was playing long for me because I’m not a big hitter. But I just told myself that this is my home course and I know I can do well here. So I’m happy with my start,” she said.

At two over par, Kruger had a strange day where she made 16 pars and two bogeys. “That’s a first for me,” she said. “I had a pretty average long game and it led to a very boring day out there.”

But Kruger was happy to still be in contention, especially after she’d expected at least a 69 to lead the first round.

“It does make me feel good that playing pretty average golf I’m still in this tournament. I’ve worked pretty hard coming into this event so let’s see what the next two rounds bring.”

Written by Michael Vlismas.

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