Major upsets on day one of SA Matchplay at Royal Cape
Yes, the race to claim the most prestigious women’s amateur title in South Africa saw Swaziland’s Nobuhle Dlamini defeat number two ranked Williams while Tiffany Avern-Taplin crashed Strokeplay champion Du Plessis’s dream of winning the coveted double.
Strauss, the number one ranked player in South Africa, defeated Zaandia Liebenberg 7 & 6 in the first round and took 16 holes to oust Chloe Garner with a 4 & 2 victory in the afternoon session.
Although Strauss was two up after a birdie at the par-5 fifth, Garner put up a solid fight and shaved a shot off Strauss’ lead with a birdie at the eighth.
“The key is to take it match for match and limit your mistakes,” said Strauss, who dropped her first shot of the day at the 12th. The teenager answered with a brace of birdies at 14 and 15 and clinched the match when her opponent bogeyed the 16th.
She is well aware of the pressure on her to claim a major title such as this.
“At least the weather has improved – you don’t need six clubs to get to the green,” the 17-year-old quipped. “Seriously though, this is the biggest tournament of the year so the goal is certainly to win it.
“But you can’t afford to get ahead of yourself and think about the final. I’m hitting the ball better and the putting has improved, so hopefully I can build on today, going forward.”
While Gauteng North’s Williams maintained her status as one of the favourites with an easy 7 & 6 advanceagainst Sune du Plooy, she met her match in a very determined Dlamini.
The 17-year-old daughter of former PGA pro, Joe Dlamini, took Pam Hayward to the 19th hole in a hard fought battle for first round honours, then went a full 17 holes with the country’s number two-ranked player for 3 & 1 victory.
“The match against Pam was really tough,” said Dlamini, who was three down after nine, but got it to all square at the 17th and forced the match into extra time with a par at the 18th.
“I was really nervous taking on Kim, but I settled down by the fourth hole, even if I was two down. She made back-to-back bogeys and the match was on.
The lead changed hands several times. Dlamini stuck to pars but Williams had to fight back to cancel a bogey ridden back nine. The teenager got the upper hand with a par at the 15th, made birdie to go two up at the 16th and clinched the match at the 17th with a regulation par.
“It’s been a fantastic experience, playing in my first SA Amateur,” said the youngster from Royal Swazi Sun Country Club. “You can only get better if you compete against the best and I feel that I’ve done myself proud, so far.
“I managed to pull it together and a win is a win. Hopefully I can see it through to the final.”
The Flight Division delivered a clean sweep for the Mallick sisters from Rondebosch.
Rushda finished 2up in her match against the country’s number three, Connie Chen, while sisters Nuraan and Wasimah cleaned up against Monique de Buys (2 & 1) and Lindsay Brown (4 & 2) respectively.