Lumien back in form at the amateur

Former Protea Lumien Orton (Lausberg) returned to national competition in style at the Sanlam SA Amateur Stroke Play Championships being played at Umhlali Country Club this week.

Returning a level par 71 in round two, she joins Limpopo’s Megan Bisset and Nobuhle Dlamini in the leading group in the final round. She has been out of competitive golf for the past year and last competed in the SA Amateur in Port Elizabeth in 2010.

Lali Stander reports from Umhlali

Swaziland’s Nobuhle Dlamini continued to assert her dominance at the Sanlam Women’s Amateur SA Stroke Play Championship on Monday while 12-year-old Chiara Contomathios from Dowerglen moved into striking distance to challenge for the B-Division title at Umhlali Country Club.

At three-under-par 139 after a second round 69, Dlamini is eight strokes clear from Limpopo’s Megan Bisset and nine ahead of Free State amateur Lumien Orton.

Twenty-year-old Bisset improved five shots on her opening 76 and her even par 71 was matched Orton, who slipped into third on 148.

Izel Pieters from Mpumalanga is in fourth a further stroke back after a 74, while 15-year-old junior Bianca Theron from Boland carded a 75 to finish in a tie for fifth on 150 alongside Gauteng’s Lora Assad (72) and recent Rosebowl winner, Kelly Erasmus (73) from Western Province.

Local junior Michaela Fletcher from Pietermaritzburg began the second round three off the pace but slipped to share of eighth on 151 alongside Gauteng North’s Eugenie Clack (75) after carding a 77.

Meanwhile Contomathios, playing off a 10-handicap, fired a 12-over-par 83 to finish within one shot of last year’s runner-up, Wilna Bredenhahn. The Namibian carded an 85 to lead the B-Division on 29 over par.

But it was Dlamini who dominated talk in the clubhouse after launching into attack with an eagle at the par-four opening hole.

“It was a bit unexpected, to say the least,” Dlamini said. “I aimed the eight-iron in about a meter left of the hole, but it just carried on rolling when it hit the surface before it dropped.

“I felt the pressure standing on the first tee, not knowing if I should be play to protect my lead or get aggressive. Either way, the eagle decided it for me; four shot lead and the pressure lifted.”

She dropped a shot at the third, but retaliated with a brace of birdies at the fourth and fifth. After another drop at the seventh, two pars saw her turn with a seven shot lead.

But Dlamini said she paid little attention to the leaderboard.

“I was in this position last year, when I had a chance to win the Stroke Play,” she said. “I spent too much time trying to beat my opponents and never noticed Kim (Williams), who came from behind to win. This time around, I’m just into my own game.”

A drop at the 12th was negated by back-to-back birdies at the 13th and 14th holes. “It was especially nice to put a birdie on the card where I signed for a double bogey in the first round,” said Dlamini of the birdie at the 13th. “But that double bogey waited for me.”

It came, unexpectedly, at the par-four 16th. “I pulled a three-wood left into the trees, but it’s not a very long hole, so I tried to punch it to the green,” she explained. “I left it just short of the green and I had to stand against the slope in front of the green. It was too long to putt, so I tried a bump and run, but the ball went past flag and ran downhill all the way through the green into a ditch at the back of the green.”

Left with a difficult chip because the pin was tucked right on the front edge of the green, she left the chip shot short and took two putts for a six. “I tried to make it up on the 17th. I had a massive drive down the fairway and a great pitch shot in, but the putt from two-and-a-half meters lipped out.

But Dlamini did manage to claim at least one shot back at the closing hole. “That 18th hole played tough again, especially with the wind pumping. But this time I managed a decent eight-iron into the green and I hit it quite close.”

Close enough to finish with a birdie and set herself up for the championship title on Tuesday. “I really, really want to win the double this year,” said Dlamini. “It has been my goal since last year and I’ve given myself every chance to start by winning the Stroke Play. “

Dlamini underlined her growing stature this year with victories at the Eastern Cape Match Play and Stroke Play, the North West Stroke Play and KwaZulu-Natal Match Play this year and she showed her determination when she successfully defended her title as the University of Pretoria’s Women’s Club Champion by shooting a 36-hole total gross score of 125 (-19) at Centurion Country Club in February.

Her strategy for the final round will be to protect her lead over the first nine holes. “But then I’m going to attack this course to make sure it’s me that lifts the trophy this time.”

Second-placed Bisset who will be teeing up alongside Dlamini in the final group is relishing the opportunity to learn from the Swazi golfer.

“She is such a formidable player,” said Bisset. “I don’t think she can be beaten and I certainly won’t play with that in mind. I’m going to try to shoot the best score I can and watch her closely the rest of the time. I think you can learn so much from someone who can shoot an eagle, five birdies, eight pars, three drops and a double and still lead by eight shots.”

Leading scores: A-Division

139 Nobuhle Dlamini (SWZ) 70-69
147 Megan Bisset 76-71
148 Lumien Orton 77-71
149 Izel Pieters 75-74
150 Lora Assad 78-72; Kelly Erasmus 77-73; Bianca Theron 75-75
151 Eugenie Clack 76-75; Michaela Fletcher 73-78
152 Cara Gorlei 76-76; Lara Weinstein 75-77
153 Kate Brett-Castle 77-76; Elzanne Kent 76-77
154 Marguerite Pienaar 78-76; Tiffany Avern-Taplin 77-77
155 Olivia le Roux 80-75; Talia Nel 77-78; Amy Henning 76-79; Francesca Cuturi 74-81; Simone Burger 74-81
156 Kim Morris 81-75; Nicole Loesch 76-80; Michelle Leigh 74-82
157 Monja Richards 80-77; Lauren Bekker 77-80
159 Taryn Heyns 82-77; Bianca Lohbauer 82-77; Nicole Garcia 80-79; Alana van Greuning 78-81
161 Ashleigh Carlsson 85-76; Leanke Vlok 85-76; Maggi du Toit 82-79
162 Vanessa Smith 82-80; Kim Daniels 81-81;
163 Erica Milligan 82-81; Eleonora Galletti 78-85
164 Zayb Kippie 84-80; Mae Cornforthe 83-81; Woo-Ju Son 82-82; Carina Theron 82-82

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