Lumien and Nobuhle reach the SA Match Play Final
Orton dispatched Marne Roos 2 & 1 in the morning and Southbroom’s Tiffany Avern-Taplin 9 and 7after lunch, while Tebbutt emerged as a serious threat after she beat the highly rated Strauss by one.
A sixth matchplay crown became a tantalising possibility for the 54-year-old Rondebosch golfer, but Tebbutt met her match, though, when she came up against the mirrored tenacity of the young Swazi golfer.
The duel started early with Tebbutt taking a one shot advantage at the first but Dlamini squared the match with a birdie at the third hole.
After a 75 minute suspension for lightning, play resumed at the fourth and Dlamini turned up the heat immediately. She was four up after seven holes before her opponent – although drastically shorter off the tee – neatly cut the deficit to three with an ace at the eighth.
Tebbutt went two down after a birdie at the 11, but Dlamini regained the advantage with an eagle at the 13th.
Coming down the home stretch, Tebbutt fought back as scripted and Dlamini’s mistakes cost her dearly.
After back-to-back bogeys at 16 and 17, the youngster arrived at the 18th with a single shot on the former champion.
“I really messed up my tee shot at 16 and it was a nightmare from there; I was lucky to walk off with just a bogey,” she said.
“After I three-putted for bogey at 17, I had a little talk to myself. I told myself that I just needed a par to win, that I should relax and to stop thinking about everything that could go wrong.”
While the youngster plugged her second in the greenside bunker, Tebbutt pitched the front of the green and looked to have the advantage. Dlamini played a superb trapshot to seven-foot while Tebbutt pushed her birdie putt past the hole and left the door open to the youngster to take the match.
This time round, Dlamini could not be pressured into making mistakes.
Just one practice swing later, Dlamini raised her hands in victory – probably one of the most important of her short career.
“Gilly Tebbutt is one of the toughest players I have ever played against. She is absolutely brilliant around the green; she really has the best short game I have ever seen. She is like one of those little dogs that bite your leg and just won’t let go.”
But Dlamini’s ride to the final was no walkover, either.
She went to 19 holes with Pam Hayward in the first round and posted a 3 & 1 win against SA number two Kim Williams in the second. In the morning quarterfinals, she rallied to a 6 and 5 win against Michelle Leigh and, in the afternoon, took care of Tebbut in admirable fashion.
At just 17, she is still a junior, but it’s all becoming par for the course for the Glendower women’s club champion.
“It’s good to have these big wins,” she said. “It prepares you for the next round and the experience you gain, is invaluable.”
Dlamini, who attends the Gavan Levenson Golf Academy at Glendower, is also part of the 2009 Gauteng squad from which the Interprovincial side will be chosen and will be travelling with the SA Squad to Swaziland, where the Regional All Africa Trophy Challenge will be played next week.