Tenacious Theron triumphs at WP Junior Champs
Top South African junior Bianca Theron claimed her first victory of the 2014 season in a thrilling play-off against Cara Gorlei to win the Nomads WGWP Junior Championship title at the first extra hole.
The pair were tied at seven-over-par 217 at the end of regulation play after Theron battled her way to a closing 76 at the Metropolitan Golf Club, while Gorlei made up ground with a final round 70.
Devonvale’s Theron was one off the pace from Gauteng golfer Chiara Contomathios after an opening 71, but hit the front at the 36-hole mark with an even-par 70 in even par. Gorlei, meanwhile, was five shots off the pace in round one and six behind Theron going into the final 18 holes.
But, while Theron could secure just one birdie as she racked up two bogeys, a double and a triple bogey for a closing 76, Gorlei from Milnerton funnelled the confidence from a runner-up finish at the recent Boland Junior Championship to cancel four bogeys to catch up to the overnight leader.
It was at the par-three 18th that the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation star pupil showed exactly why she dominated Womens Golf SA’s junior rankings last season and vaulted to third in the country’s senior rankings.
The pin at the par-three 18th was tucked at the back of the green and protected by a greenside bunker and water at the front, but Theron pitched a five-iron from 135 meters just perfect – pin high and approximately 25 meters right of the pin.
Unfortunately Gorlei gave her tee shot a little too much gas and overshot the green.
“Cara had to chip from a very challenging position and she did an incredible job,” Theron acknowledged. “She had an uphill chip to a green that sloped away from her and she didn’t have much green to work with, either. It was a great shot under the conditions and spun just past the hole.”
Theron lagged her first putt to a foot, and was already thinking about the next play-off hole when Gorlei’s par putt lipped out.
“I don’t know when last I felt quite nervous standing over a putt,” Theron said. “There was a lot of people around the green watching, and it was such a relief when the putt dropped.”
When asked about the bogeys, Theron laughed and insisted that she plans to forget them as quickly as possible.
“To be honest, the double bogey was a brilliant double, considering I had to take a drop off a car-path and the ball was eye level on a slope after I dropped,” she said. “But don’t ask me about the triple because I don’t even know how that happened.
“You are always a little rusty coming into the season, so to be able to get a win under the belt before my game is up to real form is very comforting.”
Fellow Boland golfer and namesake Bianca Lohbauer carded a closing 72 to finish five shots off the pace on 222, while Boland Junior Championship winner Ji Sun Kang from Atlantic Beach took fourth on 223 with a final round 71.
Championship Division (handicaps 9 & under / 54 holes stroke play)
217 – Bianca Theron (71, 70, 76) (won 1st playoff hole)
217- Cara Gorlei (75, 72, 70)
222 – Bianca Lohbauer (Paarl) (73, 77, 72)
223 – Ji Sun Kang (Atlantic Beach) (75, 77, 71)
224 – Ivanna Samu (Ruimsig) (76, 73, 75)
B Division (handicaps 10 – 18 / 36 holes stroke play)
160 – Cara Ford (Ruimsig) (82, 78)
164 – Mpho Bangiso (Mowbray) (83, 81)
165 – Kaiyuree Moodley (Bryanston) (81, 84)
166 – Charnay Williams (Kingswood) (83, 83)
C Division (handicaps 19 – 24 / 36 holes stroke play)
178 – Aaliyah Abrahams (Rondebosch) (89, 89)
183 – Malikah Gaibi (Royal Cape) (92, 91)
184 – Naeemah Adams (Royal Cape) (94, 90)
196 – Michelle Muller (Mossel Bay) (104, 92)
197 – Tegan Childs (Clovelly) (98, 99)
D-Division (handicaps 25 – 35 / 18 holes stableford)
32 – Ivana Daller (Clovelly) (32 pts)
25 – Sylken-Leigh November (Kinswood) (25 pts)
24 – Munashra Meyer (Clovelly/RAGA) (24 pts), Christan Booysen (Rondebosch) (24 pts)
23 – Simone Petersen (Clovelly/RAGA) (23 pts)