RISING STARS – SHAWNELLE DE LANGE
Shawnelle de Lange and French amateur, Mathilda Cappeliez, recently shared the spotlight with Cell C SA Women’s Open champion Lee-Anne Pace.
De Lange and Cappeliez shared the Jackie Mercer Trophy as the leading amateurs in the prestigious WPGA and European Ladies Tour event at San Lameer Country Club.
The 17-year-old De Lange was one of 14 South African amateurs afforded the opportunity by the WPGA and WGSA to compete against an international professional field in the country’s flagship event.
The Gauteng golfer was the only local amateur to make the final round of the weather-affected championship. She carded rounds of 77, 76 and 73 to finish on 10 over par, while the French amateur posted rounds of 75, 73 and 78.
De Lange popped up on the local golfing radar as a 13-year-old when she claimed the Ladies Overall and A-Division titles at the Sanlam Cancer Challenge National Finals at Sun City in 2011. The following year, she put up a great title defence but was denied successive titles when she lost to Michaela Fletcher in a count-out.
De Lange represented South Africa alongside Eleonora Galletti, Kyle McClatchie and Hennie du Plessis at the second Africa Youth Games in Botswana in May. She returned in a slump, disappointed with a poor performance over the two rounds at Gaberone Golf Club.
However, the opportunity to represent Gauteng at the Pick n Pay SA Women’s IPT in October and compete at the Cell C SA Women’s Open a week later, sparked a resurgence in the youngster’s game.
Following the three days at San Lameer Country Club, De Lange said she felt invigorated, motivated and ready to embrace the future. “I just got my love for the game back and I’m so excited about what the future will bring,” the Goldfields West amateur said.
We caught up with De Lange and found out more about the bubbly teenager, whose career is back on track after her resurgence in October.
WGSA: Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
SDL: I love to sing and dance, although I’m really not great either, but I believe you improve with practice and I love to put characters on my nails…it just brightens up the day
WGSA: What is the most pressure you’ve ever felt in tournament golf?
SDL: The last putt for the win at the Sanlam Cancer Challenge and the last putt for par at the Cell C SA Women’s Open were the two most nerve-wracking putts in my short career, but I nailed them both.
WGSA: What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received?
SDL: My ex-coach, Ockert Britz, always told me never to give up on my dreams and to always keep moving forward and I still live by those words.
WGSA: Name two things you consider yourself to be really good at and explain why.
SDL: I really good at mathematics and nail art.
WGSA: In your opinion, what player has had the most influence on women’s professional golf?
SDL: I think Paula Creamer inspired many young girls around the world, including myself, to take up the game. More recently, Lee-Anne Pace, has inspired all us juniors in South Africa with her achievements and given us something to play for.
WGSA: Which three people would you pick for your Fantasy Fourball and why?
SDL: My idols, Paula Creamer and Lee-Anne Pace, and Adam Scott, just because he is so hot…just kidding, he is a real inspiration because he never gave up on his dreams
WGSA: You entered the 2011 Sanlam Cancer Challenge for a very specific reason. Tell us more about that.
SDL: My younger sister, Monique, passed away in November 2010 after a long battle with leukaemia. I entered the Sanlam Cancer Challenge to honour my sister. I wanted to win it for her, but I also wanted to create awareness about cancer among the other teenagers in the country. Sometimes people don’t beat cancer, but it’s not a death sentence. I want them to know that if you are aware and informed about the risks of cancer, you can fight it and live to tell the story.
WGSA: What is still on the bucket list for Shawnelle de Lange?
SDL: I still want to sky dive for my sister, because it was one of the things she dreamt of doing; punch Justin Bieber, climb to summit of Kilimanjaro and watch the sun set after my first LPGA event
WGSA: Do you set yourself goals?
SDL: I set targets to achieve when I practice, either with my short game, long irons or tee shots and I set myself goals in tournaments, for instance to shoot a certain score.
WGSA: You are in the process of transitioning between the junior and open amateur circuits? Tell us what are most difficult obstacles to overcome?
SDL: I find the senior circuit far more competitive. There is much more pressure to perform. I try to use that as a challenge that I must meet, so I don’t buckle under the pressure.
WGSA: Tell us about your career highlights, especially the ones that have become treasured memories.
SDL: Winning the 2011 Sanlam Cancer Challenge and my club championship, finishing second in the 2012 Sanlam Cancer Challenge after a count-out and sharing the amateur prize at the Cell C SA Women’s Open. I’m really competing at the European Kids in Scotland in 2012, where I finished eighth overall. Going to Botswana to compete in the Africa Youth Games with the South African team was a very unique experience and I am really excited to represent South Africa in the sixth Albatross International Junior Golf Championship in India this December.
WGSA: Is there anything you are addicted to or can’t live without?
SDL: Coffee…I really need my coffee
WGSA: Do you think the future of South African golf is in good hands?
SDL: Yes, Womens Golf South Africa does a great job in developing junior and giving senior golfers ample competitive opportunities and with the launch of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, players like myself now have a local Tour to compete on to gain experience before we decide if we want to turn pro.
The pros also now have somewhere to play to also gain experience before they to go Europe and America, so they are far better prepared than in the past.
Players like Lee-Anne Pace and Connie Chen and Ashleigh Simon winning in Europe and America will hopefully inspire more girls to take up the game and I hope that we can also get more sponsors for the amateur and pro game to grow women’s golf South Africa.
WGSA: As a youngster, what did you wish to become when you grew up?
SDL: A spy…I love the danger and the secrets and figuring out stuff
WGSA: In your opinion, what are the strengths of your game? And what would you describe as the weaknesses of your game, or aspects that you still have to give attention to?
SDL: My strengths are chipping and bunker play and short irons, but I still need to work on the driver and long irons. My putting also needs attention.
WGSA: Tell us a little about the start of your golfing career.
SDL: I was six years old when my dad told us he was going to buy clubs and start playing golf. I nagged my parents for three months to let me play, as well, and eventually they relented. They sent me to Ockert Brits and I suppose I’ve never looked back.
WGSA: What advice would you give youngsters just starting in the game?
SDL: Give time to the game, really hard, make sacrifices and stay humble and you will have a long and rewarding career in golf.
WGSA: Biggest fear?
SDL: My biggest fear was sharks until I watched the movie “The Conjuring”
WGSA: If a song was played at the first tee, what song would be played for you?
SDL: All about that Bass by Meghan Trainor – I just love pop
WGSA: If the made a movie about your life, which actress would you choose to play you?
SDL: Reece Witherspoon, because she’s a cool, chilled person with a lot going on upstairs
WGSA: If golf was no longer an option, what other professional would you choose?
SDL: Physiotherapy is very interesting and I would like to pursue it, if possible. I hope I can gain a scholarship to study physiotherapy, because it benefit my game if I turn pro.
WGSA: If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you take with you?
SDL: Well, since you didn’t say how big or small, I’ll take a first aid kit, some fruit and yacht
WGSA: What movie do you watch again and again and why?
SDL: I love “This means war” and “Now you see me”…I guess that’s the spy thing again!