Lara heads SA girls on Gate Leader Board going into the final round

Top SA junior, Lara Weinstein is tied sixth on the leader board at +8 going into the final round of the Gate Junior Masters being played at Ponte Vedra in Florida, USA. The leader is Austrian Marina Stutz on +3. And in the boys’ competition the leading South African is Haydn Porteus, tied 14th on +4. Lara (kneeling) is seen here with Izel Pieters and Lora Assad at the Leadbetter Academy.

Erica Lefson reports:

“Well here we are at Ponte Vedra – known as millionaires’ mile – where houses and our hotel are on the beach front. Houses start at $4.5 million, so thinking everyone is wealthy we poor South Africans are feeling the pinch when paying R45 for a coffee.

“It is a fantastic area, beautiful hotel and interesting and testing course. There is a lot of water coming into play on the odd par three and demands accuracy to the greens on some of the par fours.

“The course has an abundance of palm trees…typical of Florida. The rough is that soft rough – the ball almost looks plugged and difficult to chip out of. The greens slope more than any I have ever experienced, so putts are very fast down the hills.

“Good shots are punished – today when I walked around saw that they had put many of the pins on top the hills or side of slopes. The girls… Lora, Lara and Izel are all striking the ball well but are getting caught around the greens when required to chip.”

Izel Pieters reports on her two rounds – she is tied 17th on +14 (77, 81). “Yesterday, I struggled with chipping but hit my irons well and the driver went straight – I did not miss a fairway! On the first nine I went three over – with one double – and on back nine I struggled to get on the greens – ball kept spinning off and this would end up being a drop. I ended with 77 dropping shots on the last two holes.

“Today I had four doubles – three because of chipping on grass that bites the club badly. And if it does not bite the chip ends up as a flier. The greens are very slopy and fast and the pin positions are the hardest I have ever played. Tomorrow I will concentrate on staying steady and getting the ball to stay on the green.”

Lora Assad reports, “Yesterday I could not hit my driver on the fairway, but I kept my head and was one over for the first nine. I started to struggle on the second nine and finished four over. I putted really well and the university of Texas state coach Michael Akers watched my whole round.

“Today on another note I started really badly with one triple and a bogey, only messing up two holes but resulted in a high score. However I was on fire on the back nine and three under until 16. I then then a made a bogey on the 17th and on the 18th I made a 7! I have been very quiet for the rest of the day but have learned a good lesson.” Lora is tied ninth on +10 (77, 77).

Lara Weinstein is tied sixth on +8 (78, 74) and she comments, “Yesterday I struggled with the greens – had a double on the second hole – turned five over and kept it there until the 18 where I dropped another shot to shoot 78.

“Today I started with a three putt on first hole to drop a shot and then went level for the next 11. But I did miss a few birdie opportunities where I had hit the ball close on the 13th and 18th (my first nine). Dropped on the fourth hole to be two over then birdied seventh and dropped on eight.

“The conditions were much tougher today as the wind was blowing and the pins are really mean on some of the holes – the greens are really slopey and often one is penalised for a good shot.”

Western Province’s Cara Gorlei is tied 16th on +13 (78, 79) and Steph Perkins will be pulling out all the stops today to improve her indifferent scores of 84, 88.

The boy’s leader board is headed by Poland’s Adrian Meronk on -8 (74, 72), SA’s Haydn Porteus is T14 on +4, Matt Bright is T25 on +9 (77, 76) and WP’s Jonathan Botha will also be trying his best today to improve on his 90, 95.

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