16 February 2021 – Swellendam’s Megan Streicher rode a red-hot putter to shoot the day’s low round of 67 on the West Course and rally from four shots back overnight to win the South African Women’s Stroke Play title at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club on Tuesday.
The 18-year-old GolfRSA Elite Squad member held off late charges from defending champion and top-ranked Caitlyn Macnab to triumph on five-under-par 211.
Macnab had a chance to force a play-off with an eagle opportunity at the final hole and gave it a valiant effort, but her putt died two feet from the hole. She had to settle for second after a closing 72.
GolfRSA No 4-ranked Nadia van der Westhuizen, who eagled the par-5 15th to join the race for glory, also registered a level par round to finish in third on two-under.
After successive rounds of 72 on the West and East Courses, Streicher put some time in on the driving range, but in the end, it was the flat-stick and her dad Barry on the bag that got all the credit for her first national success.
She got off the mark with back-to-back birdies and recovered from a bogey on the third with another gain on the fourth. A trio of birdies from the ninth moved her well clear of the pursuing pack, led by Macnab and Van der Westhuizen.
“I didn’t strike the ball as well as I did over the first two rounds, but my putter was hot from the start,” said Streicher, who is currently the country’s top-ranked junior.
“I made a lot of long birdie putts, and I sunk some lengthy putts to save par that kept my momentum going. I must give credit to my dad. He gave me some great lines on my putts and good advice and he kept me calm and focused throughout the round.”
Streicher now turns her attention to the match play component of the SA Amateur Championships, where she will tee off as the top seed in Wednesday’s first round on the West Course.
“I’ve been working extremely hard with my coach Murray Smit at De Zalze in Stellenbosch since golf reopened after lockdown,” she explained. “I competed in the GolfRSA Boland Race to 2021 and started seeing some improvement.”
Two years ago a fresh-faced Streicher made the semi-final round in her debut in the Womens Golf South Africa flagship event, but last year she was eliminated in the first round. A solid third place finish in the season-opening Nomads Gauteng North Girls Championship in January shot Streicher to the summit of the junior rankings and set her up for a confident start in this year’s SA Amateur Championships.
“Last year was the first time I played here Royal Johannesburg and Kensington and I was so unprepared for these championship courses,” she said. “This win really gives me a lot of confidence going into the match play. I’ll definitely be looking to go one further this week on two courses that I really love now.”
Her first match is against Lize−Mari Prinsloo from Mossel Bay, who carded 75 in the final round to clinch the final spot in the 32-strong field that will line in the Championship Division.
Macnab, hoping to make it two in a row, faces Kim Turgut from Randpark, and fellow Serengeti golfer Van der Westhuizen plays local favourite Carman Taljaard.
In the B-Division, Kaitlyn van de Vyver stretched her overnight two-shot lead with a six stroke victory.
With the top 32 players from the Championship division fighting it out for the SA Amateur title, Van de Vyver now joins the match play section of the Flight Division, which is made up of the next 32 players of the combined results on the Championship & B divisions.
The 11-year-old Eagle Canyon junior will start the Flight Division in 19th spot, and faces Paola Sakota from ERPM Golf Club in the first round.
Van der Vyver carded rounds of 95, 79 and 83 to edge out Casey Twidale (12) from Randpark on a winning score of 257.
Senayah Moodliar (18) from Umhlali and 12-year-old Lea van der Merwe from Zwartkops Country Club shared third on 265.
Meanwhile the Smit family, from KwaZulu-Natal, is making this year’s event a family affair.
Former SA Mid-Amateur champion Liezl Smit, who made her debut in the flagship events a full 30 years ago, will share the match play stage with daughters Anika and Marlie.
Smit and younger daughter Anika tied for 19th, while Marlie (joint 24th) goes up against overnight leader Samantha Whateley, who tied for sixth.
“We love playing and competing together, and it’s such a privilege to share this experience with my daughters,” said the pharmacist from Vryheid. “If one of us falls out, we’ll support whoever is left. I love being able to do this with my daughters and to support their growth and development in the game. And I am still pretty competitive myself.”
A-Division Result (top 20)
211 Megan Streicher 72 72 67
212 Caitlyn Macnab 75 67 70
214 Nadia van der Westhuizen 72 72 70
217 Kaylah Williams 74 73 70
218 Kiera Floyd 76 69 73
220 Larissa du Preez 74 75 71; Isabella van Rooyen 74 73 73; Samantha Whateley 70 70 80
221 Kyra van Kan 75 77 69
223 Jordan Rothman 79 69 75; Kaylan Boshof 76 73 74
225 Bobbi Brown 74 76 75
226 Stephanie Barbaglia 79 77 70
227 Gabrielle Venter 75 71 81
229 Bronwyn Leigh Doeg 81 73 75; Kera Healey 75 73 81
231 Demi Flanagan 79 76 76
232 Victoria Monod SUI 81 76 75
233 Anika Smit 81 77 75; Liezl Smit 76 79 78
B-Division Result (top 10)
257 Kaitlyn van de Vyver 95 79 83
263 Casey Twidale 90 86 87
265 Senayah Moodliar 92 86 87; Lea van der Merwe 90 86 89
268 Gia Raad 96 87 85
269 Lisa Coetzer 91 91 87; Tyla Potgieter 90 96 83
275 Valda Ford 93 91 91
276 Veronica Paddy 96 91 89
277 Leonie Swart 100 92 85
278 Ame van der Merwe 96 89 93
285 Kaylee Webster 96 94 95