Smith takes SA Mid-Amateur lead at Irene

Western Province golfer Vanessa Smith opened up an yawning gap on the field in the first round of the Championship Division at the South African Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship at Irene Country Club on Monday.

The Milnerton mid-amateur reeled in three birdies to offset five bogeys for a two-over-par 74 and finished eight strokes clear of Liezl Smit and defending champion, Sonja Bland.

The one handicapper is one of the lowest handicapped players in the A-Division for handicaps nine and under, so seeing Smith, who won the Boland Mid-Amateur Championship in July, in front was not entirely unexpected.

“I have to admit, I was pretty nervous down the front nine at Irene,” the 36-year-old said.

“I overshot the first green, but managed a great up-and-down for birdie, but I dropped most of my shots on the outward loop. I settled down after the turn, but I was in the middle of the 12th fairway looking at a slight downhill lie when we got called off for dangerous conditions.”

Play was delayed for an hour and five minute due to lightning and thunderstorms.

“After the delay, I was very relaxed. I looked at my lie at the 12th and thought to myself ‘you have to spin it to win it, Vanessa’. The course is in fantastic condition, though. It is beautifully maintained and it drained quite fast.

“I think one of the reasons I scored well was the greens. They have a lot of nap and you have to read the grain well to know what side of the hole to attack. This course rates among my top three courses in South Africa, so I’m pleased I got off to a good start.”

The big lead is something that Smith won’t think about in the second round.

“I set myself a target of finishing this year with nothing higher than a five over par total,” she said. “I can’t control what the other players do, only my own game. If I can play three rounds of 74 and walk off with a six over, I’d have done well.”

Meanwhile Erica Millican carded an opening 88 to lead the B-Division for handicaps 10-18 by one stroke from Gauteng Ladies Golf president, Gill van der Meulen.

In the C-Division for handicaps 19-24, Judy Katzenellenbogen and Marelize Church share pole position on 27 points and lead by two from Lesley van der Vaart and Theresa McCabe.

Click HERE to view the A-Division scores

Click HERE to view the B-Division scores

Click HERE to view the C-Division scores

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

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