Local amateurs bid for EP honours

Former top SA amateur Nobuhle Dlamini was the undisputed queen of the Eastern Province Championship, winning back-to-back doubles at Port Elizabeth Golf Club in 2012 and Humewood last year.

The Swazi golfer’s departure to the paid ranks this year has cleared the way for the next wave of talent to stake their claim in this prestigious tournament.

Imkeleen Meyer, Tara Griebenow, Justine Botten, Ethne Brouard and Sandra Pienaar will be targeting a double home victory at Port Elizabeth Golf Club when the championship tees off this weekend.

The quintet will count on their home course advantage, while the local challenge will further be strengthened by East London Golf Club’s Demi Flanagan and Millie Dondashe, Zethu Myeki from West Bank, Alexandria’s Yolande Duma, Lynn Slogrove from Humewood and 14-year-old Jamie-Lee Daniels from Uitenhage.

However, the pride of Eastern Province could come under huge pressure from the country’s top amateurs, especially the early junior standouts this season.

Bianca Theron from Boland, ranked third on the WGSA Senior Rankings, claimed the Nomads WGWP Junior Championship title in a play-off, while Ji Sun Kang from the Western Province, ranked sixth, scored a runaway victory at the Boland Junior Championships.

Eighth-ranked Cara Gorlei from Western Province, the runner-up in both junior championships, cannot be discounted, while Carrie Park from Irene Country Club, Kaleigh Telfer from Bryanston and Michaela Fletcher from Pietermaritzburg are other hot junior prospects, looking to add to their respective successes in 2013.

Like Meyer, Centurion’s Magda Kruger also had to shift her focus from the golf course to academics in her final school year. With matric behind them both, the duo will certainly be looking to convert for victory early in the season.

Meyer, a first year student in B.Com Business Management and Accounting at the Nelson Mandela University, is quietly confident that the local players will stand up to the challenge.

“We are quite determined to keep both trophies on home soil,” the 18-year-old said.

“For the last two years, Nobby dominated the championship, but I think the A-Division is quite open and the players evenly matched this year. I think we have the depth and talent in the Eastern Province to take on the rest of the country.”

The 36-hole Stroke Play Championship will be played on Sunday, 9 February, while the Match Play Championship tees off on 10 and 11 February.

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