Kang makes Western Province Amateur history

Ji Sun Kang from Western Province carved her name into the province’s golfing history when she recently claimed a top 55 finish in the Western Province Amateur Stroke Play Championship.

A late withdrawal paved the way for the 17-year-old Kang to test her skills against some of the country’s top male amateurs in one of the oldest and most prestigious events on the provincial circuit.

The Atlantic Beach golfer already proved her prowess at the Milnerton Golf Links when she reached the final of the 2013 Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Championship last year.

This time, however, the country’s number four ranked golfer had to contend the challenging layout and a feisty South-Easterly off the men’s tees.

Kang carded rounds of 79, 73, 79 and 78 to tie for 53rd. It was the first time a female golfer had competed and made the 36-hole cut in this championship and Kang was extremely pleased with her performance.

“It was exciting to play with the men, but I was concerned about the length of the course,” said Kang.

“I was driving very nicely and I was consistent off the tee box, but we were playing into a four to five club wind and that made shots into the greens difficult.

“Normally for the women’s championships I use fewer clubs, but for this tournament had to use all my clubs to control my shots and I had to play many different types of shots.”

Kang said the shot making ability of her playing partners was astounding.

“I was impressed with how the men play and manage their game,” she said. “They need a variety of golf skills to compete at this level. Sometimes my playing partners would use irons while I had to use driver off the tees, but I managed to keep up with them.”

The experience ranks among the highlights of her career, said Kang.

“I am really thankful that the Western Province Golf Union gave me this opportunity to test my skills and to expand my level of experience,” Kang said. “All my playing partners were very kind to me.

“I had lots of fun and I felt very comfortable playing with the men. I realised that I must practice different shots with all my clubs, because there will come a time when I will need them.”

Kang said that she deliberately didn’t think about setting a record during the event.

“I told myself to enjoy the tournament before every round and use it to test myself,” she said.

“I felt that I was part of the tournament and I was under pressure to shoot a good score, just like in any other tournament. When I realised that I had made the cut, I was very excited, but I also knew the next two rounds would be even more difficult.

“I was aware that I was the only girl competing in the championship and I wanted to play better than the men. They also wanted to beat me, and I think that lifted everyone’s game. It made us compete even harder. It was truly a great experience and I am really happy I was given this chance.”

Western Province director of golf, Eric Lefson, said Kang was impressive throughout the championship.

“Ji Sun has actually competed in some of our other men’s events before, but this was the first time she had to compete solely off the men’s tees,” Lefson said.

“She did an outstanding job and if the same opportunity arises in the future, we would welcome any of our top girls to enter. We encourage this as a means to improve their game and that is ultimately good for Western Province golf.”

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