Poetic justice for Park at Ackerman Champs
Just days after she was denied the Boland Championship title in a play-off for, Gauteng North’s Carrie Park exacted her revenge with a runaway victory in the 33rdAckerman Championship on Sunday.
The 16-year-old from Pretoria was still smarting from her defeat when she teed it up at Rondebosch Golf Club, but rounds of 74 and 72 saw her to a two-stroke lead at the 36-hole mark and this time Park was determined to finally go the full course.
While the rest of the field struggled in winds gusting up to 50km per hour, Park bravely romped to a nine stroke victory with a final round 75.
Her winning total of five-over-par 215 saw Park finish well clear of Vanessa Smith and Cara Gorlei from the Western Province, who shared second alongside newly-crowned Boland Championship match play champion Mae Cornforth on 230. First round leaders Magda Kruger and Nicole Garcia finished a further shot back in joint fifth with Lara Weinstein.
The Irene golfer was stunned, but absolutely thrilled with the result.
“I am so glad I finally got that monkey off my back,” she gushed. “I have had chances, but every time I was in with a shout, I just couldn’t pull it through for victory. I was gutted when Ji Sun (Kang) beat me for the Boland stroke play title, and before I teed off in the final round, I told myself that this had to be my day. I nearly threw it away at the end, but luckily I had enough shots in hand to win.”
In fact, Park had no idea of the cushion between her and her nearest challengers until she reached the leaderboard at the 14th tee. But once she saw the scores, things almost went south.
“I looked at the scores and I realised I was leading by seven shots and my nerves went into overdrive,” Park admitted. “I dropped four shots in a row and I only got control when we reached the 18th tee. I regain focus and I finished with a birdie. I think that is the thing I am most proud of.”
Park has endured a season of close finishes and she has kept careful score.
“Let me just give you the rundown,” she said. “Second at the Eastern Cape Championship, third at the Border Ladies Championship and third at the Nomads SA Girls Championship. Another third at the 72-Hole Teams Championship, third at the Ekurhuleni Championship and second at the Boland Championship. I just felt it was never going to happen.”
But her delight at lifting one of the most coveted titles on the women’s amateur circuit has made up for all the close calls.
“The Ackerman Championship is one of the longest running events on our calendar and it’s a title every amateur wants to win,” she said. “I know that every player in the A-Division wanted it as much as I did. This was my first win this year, but also my first “senior” victory and that’s why I will always be one of my most memorable victories.”
TOP 10 LEADERBOARD
221 Carrie Park 74-72-75
230 Vanessa Smith 79-77-74; Cara Gorlei 75-75-80; Mae Cornforth 76-73-81
231 Magda Kruger 73-81-77; Lara Weinstein 78-72-81; Nicole Garcia 73-75-83
233 Kelly Erasmus 80-76-77; Kaleigh Telfer 78-74-81
234 Ji Sun Kang 79-76-79