Michaela wins Sanlam Cancer Challenge Final

Pictured here: A delighted Michaela Fletcher with Elana Afrika who co-hosted the prize-giving evening.

Good fortune was certainly smiling on KwaZulu-Natal teenager Michaela Fletcher and Bredasdorp Golf Club’s general manager Werner Ferreira, who were declared the overall winners at this Sanlam Cancer Challenge at Sun City on Tuesday.

Fletcher, who shot a 76 at Lost City and posted a 74 at the Gary Player Country Club for a 67 point total in the Stableford competition, spent an hour rueing four costly three-putts on her front nine before she was called back to the clubhouse to receive the good news.

“I had such a brilliant back nine, but all I could think about was those three-putts,” said reigning SA Girls Stroke Play champion. “It was a really nervous wait for me but I’m absolutely thrilled.”

Defending champion Shawnelle de Lange and Ria Joubert, the B-Division winner had caught the 16-year-old from Pietermaritzburg, but Fletcher won the A-Division and overall title in a count-out.

“While I was waiting, I thought how ironic it would be to beat Shawnelle, because it was her victory last year that inspired a lot of golfers to enter this year’s Sanlam Cancer Challenge,” she said.

“I lost my granny and uncle to cancer and I thought she had so much courage to enter and dedicate her victory to her younger sister, who died from Leukaemia. I hoped that if I didn’t win, that she would at least defend her title because she is inspirational.”

In the end, Fletcher snuck past 14-year-old De Lange by a mere two points.

“I’ve dreamt of playing at Sun City and it has been a real dream come true,” Fletcher said. “Everything I’ve heard about these courses is true and more. It’s been an amazing experience.

“I hope that Shawnelle and I will encourage junior golfers from all over South Africa to enter the Sanlam Cancer Challenge next year. We heard that Sanlam broke the R3-million target and it is fantastic to know that we all helped Sanlam to help the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) in the fight against cancer.”

Ferreira, meanwhile, walked off the Gary Player course with two holes to play when lightning interrupted the second round of Africa’s largest amateur charity golf competition.

During the hour-long suspension, he had a lot of time to think about his second shot and his golf ball, which was floating somewhere along the bottom of the lake next to the 17th hole.

“My playing partner, Danie du Plessis, played it safe and I was in the drink with no chance of a come back,” Ferreira explained.

“Danie was on 68 points and I was on 64, so I guess that’s why I’m a little conflicted right now. There is a part of me that is certainly chuffed with the victory but at the same time, I really feel for Danie. He was definitely on the way to win and it should have been him celebrating right now.”

Ambivalence or not, in addition to the trophies, Ferreira and Fletcher each receive an Ernie Els Experience that includes a visit to Oubaai and the Golf Hall of Fame museum, a tour of the Ernie Els Wine Estate and dinner at the Big Easy Restaurant in Stellenbosch.

“It’s an awesome first prize, so I’m certainly not going to complain about winning,” said Ferreira. “But maybe I can take Danie along as a guest. That that way we can both enjoy the experience and there will be no hard feelings.”

In other results, Christine Brinknell from Walmer Golf Club won the Women’s C-Division on 64 points, Koos van Niekerk from Koster the Mens B-Division on 34 points and Bob Baisley from Key Mouth the C-Division on 37 points.

Lali Stander

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