Gauteng teenager Woo-Ju Son put an exclamation mark behind her rising star status when she strolled to a seven stroke victory in the Nomads SA Girls Championship in Orkney on Tuesday.
Exactly 12 months since she lifted the Under-16 title, the country’s top ranked junior came full circle at Orkney Golf Club.
Going in search of her seventh victory this season, the petite 16-year-old West Rand junior opened with a one-over-par 73 to share the first round lead with Chante van Zyl from Free State and Western Province’s Kaylah Williams.
Son opened up a three shot lead over Jenefer Haw from Ekurhuleni with a second round 70 and closed with a final round 72 to triumph in wire-to-wire style. Son’s one-under-par 215 winning total was the lowest recorded since Connie Chen won the title with an aggregate score of 209 in 2010 and she was the only player to finish below par this year.
“I’m so, so pleased to have won,” gushed the country’s number one ranked junior. “I’ve been coming to Orkney since I started playing the junior circuit and it’s always been a goal to win the Nomads SA Girls.
“I came close in 2015, just missing out on the play-off and after I won the Under-16 title last year, it was one of my goals to try and win it this year. The two Nomads events – the SA Girls and SA Girls Rose Bowl – are the two biggest junior titles we play for. I am so glad that I’ve ticked this box. My next goal will be to win the double like Ashleigh Simon at next year’s Rose Bowl.”
Son offset three early bogeys with trio of birdies around the turn in the first round, but a late drop at 16 cost her the outright lead. She managed to cancel four bogeys in the second round and an eagle at the par five 17th pushed her well clear of the chasing pack.
She got off to a bogey start in the final round, but it didn’t take her long to recover.
“I pushed my tee shot right into the trees and when I punched out, my ball hit the thinnest tree on the course and bounced back into the trees,” said Son. “My third shot over the trees finished just short of the green and I chipped and putted for bogey.
“I sunk a 15-footer for birdie at six and hoped to birdie the par five (10), but I duffed my third and had to putt for par, but I holed a 10-footer for birdie at 11 to get to one under. I never pay attention to the leaderboard, so I had no idea by how much I was leading. I played with Kajal (Mistry) and only really watched her. Unfortunately she was battling with the putter, otherwise I am sure she would have piled on the pressure.”
Son parred her way through 12, 13 and 14, but dropped shots at 15 and 16.
“My tee shot at 15 landed in a divot, but I move it forward, only to find the ball in another divot in front of the green,” she said. “I chipped it up but my par-putt horse-shoed out. At 16, I hit a grip-down hybrid left of the green and two-putted after chipping to eight feet. At 18, I hit a good drive and a pitching wedge to three feet and boxed the birdie putt. I really wanted to finish on a high note after the two bogeys, and I was so pleased when I made it.”
Son leaves for the United States on Wednesday and the victory has given her an extra boost of confidence ahead of the IMG Junior World Championship.
“I worried how I would perform, because I’ve had trouble with a right wrist injury and lower back pain, but I managed it well this week,” she said “I’ll see the physiotherapist before I leave, but I believe my game is in good enough shape to challenge at Torrey Pines.
“Unfortunately I will have to miss the Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Match Play Championship, but there is always next year. I will definitely follow the scoring on the web to see if anyone can stop Kajal from winning the double.”
Despite her putting woes, the country’s top ranked senior Mistry closed with a final round 74 to tie for second on 222 with fellow Gauteng golfer Chiara Contomathios, who racked up five birdies on her way to a three-under-par 69.
Marine Legentil defeated fellow Gauteng golfer Kim Turgut for the B-Division title. Legentil from Country Club Johannesburg carded rounds of 86, 83 and 78 to triumph on 247.
Marne van der Merwe from Koro Creek edged out Western Province junior Xavier Arries by one point with rounds of 33 and 44 to lift the C-Division title, while Thaakirah Bickoo from Eastern Province won the D-Division by 14 points on 83 with rounds of 39 and 44.
A-Division Result (top 10)
215 Woo-Ju Son 73 70 72
222 Chiara Contomathios 77 76 69; Kajal Mistry 77 71 74
224 Lindi Coetzee 79 72 73
226 Jenefer Haw 75 71 80
227 Brittney-Fay Berger 80 74 73; Caitlyn Macnab 80 71 76; Kaylah Williams 73 78 76; Chante Van Zyl 73 77 77
228 Danielle du Toit 76 77 75
B-Division Result (top 5)
247 Marine Legentil 86 83 78
254 Kim Turgut 85 84 85
258 Ciara Koekemoer 84 87 87
259 Holly Lau 89 88 82; Kira Kappeler 82 94 83
C-Division Result (36-hole Stableford / top 5)
77 Marne Van der Merwe 33 44
76 Xavier Arries 39 37
71 Jutta Tecklenburg 38 33
69 Cinteche du Plessis 33 36
68 Ineke Brynard 31 37
D-Division Result (36-hole Stableford / top 5)
83 Thaakirah Bickoo 39 44
69 Chloe Buss 38 31
66 Lané Weenink 33 33
62 Fouziah Schloss 37 25
54 Rebecca Aylesbury 30 24
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of GolfRSA, a SAGA and WGSA Not-For-Profit company.