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Richards lifts Free State Championship title

Mpumalanga’s Monja Richards claimed her first provincial victory of the season with a wire-to-wire victory at the Free State & Northern Cape Championship title at Oppenheimer Golf Club on Sunday.

Richards got off to a solid start with an opening 73 and shared the first round lead with 16-year-old Shawnelle de Lange from Central Gauteng.

A second round 73 pushed the Nelspruit golfer into pole position on two-over-par 146.

De Lange returned a 77 and slipped to second, two shots ahead of recent Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur champion, Carrie Park, who carded successive 76s.

Richards carded a final round 74 to seal a comprehensive five-stroke victory on four-over-par 220.

Gauteng North’s Park fired a 73 and vaulted to second alongside De Lange, who signed for a closing 75.

The pair finished one stroke ahead of Central Gauteng duo, Ivanna Samu and Natasha Carlsson.

Fifteen-year-old Samu carded rounds of 76, 74 and 76, while 16-year-old Carlsson opened with a 76 and followed with two 75s.

Richards, who has been in threatening form this season, was thrilled to get the monkey off her back.

“I am really excited by this victory, because I feel like I have redeemed myself,” she said.

“After winning a couple of times last year and posting some top 10 finishes, I was in a good position in the WGSA senior rankings and I thought I would make the All-Africa team.

“But, although I had a couple of close shaves this season, I just wasn’t able to close it off in the final round and I started slipping in the rankings and my performance at the Sanlam SA Womens Stroke Play didn’t help me much, either.

“I came to Oppenheimer Park looking to redeem myself. I turned the disappointment into positive energy and I’m really pleased that I pulled it through.

“The course was pretty tough, especially in the wind, and it was a great challenge. To be honest, I was pretty nervous going into the final round. I was in contention before this season and threw it away, but this time I hung in there and got the victory.

“To say I’m pleased would be an understatement. Now I’m just gunning to keep going!”

Twelve-year-old Caitlyn McNab won the B-Division by three strokes from Carina Theron. The 10-handicapper carded rounds of 83, 85 and 86 for a winning score of 254.

Meanwhile Moira Jordaan edged out Marie Vermeulen for the C-Division title on a count-out after both players finished on 300.

The FS & NC Closed Championship was won by Zanele Mazibuko from Harrismith Golf Club, who is currently studying at Tuks University.

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