Park romps to Border Open Champs victory

Gauteng North teenager Carrie Park underlined her growing stature when she tamed gusting winds at East London Golf Club to claim the Border Open Championship title on Sunday.

The GFG Academy golfer won by a six shot victory margin on four-under-par 215 and her second victory in four months followed along the same lines as her runaway nine stroke triumph at the 33rd Ackerman Championship last October.

Park carded an opening one-over-par 74 to lag two shots behind the country’s number one ranked junior, Kaleigh Telfer, however, the overnight leader returned a second round 77 that left the door open for Park to pounce with a 73 to take a one stroke lead over Monja Richards at the 36-hole mark.

Once the 17-year-old Irene golfer hit the front, not even winds gusting at 35 kilometers an hour could hold her back.

Park collected a pair of birdies at the third and fourth holes, and reeled in a string of four gains from the ninth hole to move to six under. The Irene golfer notched yet another birdie at the par-five 15th, but her own eagerness cost her back-to-back shots at the 16th and 17th.

“We were playing into a two to three club wind and the back nine was extremely tough,” Park explained.

“I hit it well from tee to green and had been putting really well all day, especially nailing those 12 to 15 foot putts. I got a little ahead of myself and diverted from my game plan, because I was really pumped and I took the holes and I shouldn’t have.

“At the 16th, I got stuck in a bunker behind the hill and at the par-three, I took a six-iron off the tee and finished well short of the green. That was two lessons learned, so I took care with the 18th. I hit my driver too high, though, and the tee shot didn’t travel very far. I hit a three-wood for my second and it finished to the left of the green, which left me with a downhill chip.”
Park executed the chip to perfection, though, and knocked in a three-footer for par and victory.

“I’m really pleased with this win so early in the season,” Park said. “I am in matric this year and it is going to become increasingly difficult to maintain my WGSA rankings and world amateur rankings with all the preparations for exams.

“I have been putting in a lot of long hours with my coach, Graeme Francis, since last year and I’m just really pleased that all the hard work has paid off.”

Richards from Nelspruit carded rounds of 77, 71 and 73 to take second on two over 221, while recent Eastern Province Match Play champion Michaela Fletcher from Maritzburg finished two shots adrift in third after rounds of 75, 76 and 72.

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