SA wrap up with top 25 at WATC

South Africa’s Ivanna Samu, Kaleigh Telfer and Cara Gorlei posted a top 25 finish for World Amateur Team Championships as the Republic of Korea clinched its fourth Espirito Santo Trophy in Mexico on Saturday.

The Korean team won with a record-equalling margin with a 72-hole total of 29-under-par 547, taking their medal tally in 14 WATC appearances to seven – four gold (1996, 2010, 2012 and 2016), two silvers and one bronze.

Koreans Hye Jin Choi and Min Ji Park both shot rounds of five-under-par 67 at the Mayakoka El Camaleon Golf Club for a final round total of 134 and tied Japan’s Nasa Hatoaka for the low round of the honour.

Over the four days of competition, the Korean trio seemed oblivious to conditions in Mexico, but the rest of the challengers appeared to struggle with the extreme humidity.

Switzerland finished a distant second at eight under and Ireland a further stroke back in third. South Africa posted a final round 154 at the Iberostar Playa Paraiso Golf Club to secure a tie for 25th with Puerto Rico on 23 over 599.

Telfer led the way for South Africa with a final round 76, Gorlei carded 78 and Samu posted a non-counting 81.

“Like most of the teams competing this year, our players really struggled with the humidity, which was at its worst in the final round,” said Val Holland. “I have to tip my hat to our three players, who really showed a lot of courage and determination in the challenging conditions and never gave up fighting.

“The greens were slightly quicker in the final round and tight pin placements made it tough to attack the pins. Cara and Kaleigh played steady golf over the first six holes and both had some soft bogeys on the back nine with putts not dropping.

“Kaleigh made an incredible tap-in par save at the 10th. She missed the green and faced a very difficult chip, but she executed the shot brilliantly and nearly holed out.

“Ivanna found trouble off the tee with some wayward drives and just a few birdies. The highlight of her round came at the 12th when she landed in the fairway bunker, but managed to get out and she stuck her third shot just four feet from the hole and made the par putt.”
Womens Golf South Africa president Karen Olivant said the championship was a memorable experience for the South African team.

“Ivanna, Kaleigh and Cara were put through the wringer with two tough courses and really trying conditions this week, but they showed a lot of courage under fire,” Olivant said.

“They did not let the extreme humidity beat them down and, although we were well behind the leading groups, they played for pride and gave it their very best effort. They remained professional throughout the championship and I am very proud at the tenacity and determination they showed throughout.”

Over the first nine holes in the final round, the South African trio had some support from compatriots Jovan Rebula, Marco Steyn and Dylan Naidoo, who will be starting the men’s campaign in the Eisenhower Trophy on Wednesday.

“It was really nice to see the boys show up in support of the girls, and their presence definitely added to the final round fight in the camp,” said Holland.

“They were able to get a first-hand look at the course set-up and experienced the conditions, which will enable them to better prepare for their WATC campaign next week.”

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of Womens Golf South Africa.

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