LET joy for Williams and Dlamini
Africa’s numbers on the Ladies European Tour got a significant boost as South Africa’s two top ranked amateurs, Kim Williams and Nobuhle Dlamini from Swaziland, as well as Bonita Bredenhann from Namibia clinched their full cards for 2014 in the final round of the Lalla Aicha Tour School Final Qualifying in Morocco.
World number six Dlamini reeled in four birdies at the challenging Samanah course at Golf Al Maaden in Marrakesh, but a bogey at the final hole cost the Swazi golfer a joint second place.
Nevertheless, the reigning Sanlam SA Stroke Play champion signed off with an impressive 69 for a 90-hole total of four-under-par 356 that vaulted her from an overnight share of 17th to joint fourth on the final leaderboard.
Meanwhile seventh ranked Williams overcame a few hiccups early in her round to close out a dream season during which the 27-year-old Pretoria golfer won the Sanlam SA Amateur Match Play and reclaimed the top spot in the Womens Golf South Africa Senior Rankings.
The country’s number one ranked amateur bogeyed the second hole, but immediately wiped out the deficit with a birdie at the third. She birdied the eighth to erase one of two bogeys at the fifth and sixth, and eliminated a fourth bogey at the 10th with a birdie at the 11th.
Settled, Williams parred the last six holes for a 73 that ensured her a share of 10th on two under 358.
“It was incredibly tough, but this is so, so satisfying,” said a delighted Williams, who admitted being close to tears when she walked off the 18th green, card in hand.
“Q-School is a real rollercoaster of emotions and it’s hard to put into words just what a mental challenge this week has been. I was gutted after missing last year and I wasn’t even sure I would come back. But I had a really good season, so I decided to give it one more try.”
Williams was tied for ninth going into the final round and knew it would be a mental, rather than physical battle she faced.
“I really wasn’t mentally prepared for the stress of Q-School last year, but this time around I knew I had a chance and I was ready. I needed to play solid, clever golf; no heroics. It was percentage golf all the way and I am really proud that I could pull it back after the early bogeys.
“I’m absolutely delighted; I don’t even have the words to express my joy and relief.”
But while Williams and Dlamini will be celebrating their success, Williams spared a thought for fellow amateur Nicole Garcia, who missed the top 30 cut-off by just two shots.
“Nix had to pre-qualify to get into the Final Qualifying and played four solid rounds to make the final round,” Williams said. “I really feel for her, because it’s tough when you come so close. But she will have some limited starts, so I’m sure she will try to take advantage of those next year.”
Fourth ranked Garcia delivered a solid performance with two birdies and bogeys for a 72 in the final round, but her total of four-over-par 364 saw her tie for 34th.
“I couldn’t have hit the ball any better; I hit 17 greens in regulation and 13 fairways, but it was a tough putting day out there,” the Ekurhuleni golfer said. “I missed my birdie putt at the last and I missed the return for par to finish two shots outside the top 30.
“I will get a few starts under category 9b, so if I can get some decent results, I could get my card. All is definitely not lost and I’m really grateful for all the support from everyone back home.”
Bredenhann, who turned pro at last year’s Q-School, carded a closing 73 to tie for 27th and claim one of the five final cards available on two-over-par 362.
The African quartet will join regular LET campaigners Lee-Anne Pace, Ashleigh Simon, Connie Chen, Stacy Lee Bregman, Tandi von Ruben, Morgana Robbertze and Laurette Maritz in Europe next year, while Williams, Dlamini and Garcia will also make their professional debut in South Africa on the Sunshine Ladies Tour in February.