Son marches to B-Division win at Sanlam Women’s SA Amateur

Report from Lali Stander

RUSTENBURG, North West (12 April 2011) – Ten-year-old Woo-Ju Son from Korea didn’t miss a beat as she rolled in her final putt at the ninth green and flipped her cap to acknowledge the crowd applauding her B-Division victory in the Sanlam Women’s SA Amateur Stroke Play Championship.

The pint-sized player from Bryanston Golf Club had a stronghold on this tournament at Rustenburg Golf Club from the very first hole.

In the 54-hole tournament, the 10-handicapper outplayed her peers and players up to four times her age. She carded two successive 85s to enter the final round with a six stroke lead and finished her winning march with a final round 88 to beat 40-something Wilna Bredenhann, a 10-handicapper from Namibia, by six shots.

Shawnelle de Lange, a 13-year-old from Fochville, carded rounds of 91-85-93 to finish third.

Although Son never really came under pressure from her challengers, it was a measure of the young prodigy’s single mindedness that she felt she could have done a lot better.

“I wanted to win by at least nine or 10 shots,” moaned Son.

“I’m happy with the victory but I am disappointed with my scores. My goal at the start of the week was to win the B-Division, so I’m glad I was able to achieve that.”

Son dropped quite a few shots over her opening holes, but a birdie at the par-five 16th put her back on the winning track.

“I struggled with chipping and putting, but I still scrambled well to stay ahead,” said Son. “At the 16th, I hit a good drive and three-wood down the fairway. I hit a seven-iron for my third shot and it landed just a few feet from the pin. I holed out for birdie and it made me feel a lot better. I didn’t manage to break 85 in the final round, but it’s still great to be the winner.”

In fact, Son also cleaned up in the prizes, winning Best Gross score for all three days and Best Nett on two of the three competition days.

And her victory was not completely unexpected.

After all, last year she beat other nine-year-olds from across the world for the Girls Under-9 title at U.S. Kids Golf European Championships in Scotland. Just a fortnight ago, she braved a three-club Southeaster wind in the final round of the SA Girls’ Rose Bowl at Clovelly Country Club to finish third in the B-Division.

Son immediately turned her attention to the future.

Hard work on her game with Leigh-Jane Middleton, her coach at Bryanston Golf Club, tops the list.

Son plans to compete in the Callaway World Junior Golf Championships at the Lomas Santa Fe Executive course in California in July and, in August, the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship at Pinehurst Resort in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

“I would also like to cut my handicap to nine, so I can compete in the main tournament,” she said.

“I want to play against the best players because you only get better if you push yourself.”

FINAL LEADING SCORES: B Division (handicap follows in brackets)

258 Woo-Ju Son (10) 85-85-88

264 Wilna Bredenhann (10)NAM 88-89-87

269 Shawnelle de Lange (10) 91-85-93

270 Ntsoaki Mokoena (10) 92-88-90; Thelma Dippenaar (10) 90-89-91; Christelle Delport (10) 89-91-90

271 Valde Ford 87-92-92 (11); Chiara Contomathios (15) 97-85-90

275 Zanele Mazibuko (13) 91-94-90

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