Texas State’s Assad shines on home visit

Texas State University student Lora Assad is relishing her return to the United States after racking up two victories and a runner-up finish at the prestigious Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Championship during her summer break at home.

Over the last six weeks, the 22-year-old Randpark golfer won the Gauteng North Match Play, reached the final of women amateur golf’s flagship event and put an exclamation mark on a productive holiday with a podium finish at the Ekurhuleni 54-Hole Stroke Play Championship.

Assad opened with an expensive 79, but rallied with rounds of 76 and 71 for a five stroke victory on eight-over-par 226 over fellow Gauteng golfer, Shawnelle de Lange at Benoni Country Club.

“I took a little time off after the Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Championship, but Ekurhuleni Women’s Golf was kind enough to grant me a late entry when I decided at the last minute to enter,” she said.

“And then I started par, double, double, triple…. it was mind boggling stuff. I knew I had to pull it together. I lost a couple of shots in the last two rounds, but it was great to finish on such a high.

“The tournament was very well organised and the course was in superb condition. I have to commend Nomads for their unwavering support of women’s amateur golf in South Africa.”

Assad came home on the back of three top-10 finishes in the USA, including a tie for ninth at the Sun Belt Tournament.

She kicked off her break at the Limpopo Championship at Polokwane Golf Club, and was stunned to tie for fifth after rounds of 81, 78 and 81.

“I haven’t shot over 80 in more than a year, and here I did it twice in one tournament,” she said. “The greens were lightning fast and scores were very high, so it was a good result in the end.”

In early July, Assad tied for 15th in the Gauteng North Stroke Play Championship, but was unstoppable in the Match Play at Wingate Park Country Club.

She defeated Ruzanne van der Walt 1-up in round one, got around Mae Cornforth, who is ranked 6th on the WGSA Rankings with a 4&2 result in round two and dispatched second ranked Michaela Fletcher 3 & 1 in the semi-final and went on to beat Natasha Carlsson 2&1 to claim the title.

“Wingate Park was really, really tough, and I think it prepared me well for the Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Championship,” said Assad.

“To be honest, I wasn’t playing at my best at Ruimsig and I paid the price,” said Assad, who lost the final 2&1 to local favourite Ivanna Samu at her home course.

“I was five down through the first six holes, on the back foot and from there it was just a fight to stay in the match. I was really disappointed at coming so close, but missing out on the win.”

Assad was studying Sport Communication at the University of Johannesburg when she caught the attention of scouts during a world junior golf event in Florida just over two years ago.

A phone call from the coach at Texas State resulted in a golf scholarship and a hasty departure to the United States.

Assad will be one of five players returning for the Bobcats, who qualified for the NCAA Regionals for a third straight year last season.

“It’s going to be great to get back together with the team,” said Assad, who is heading back to start her third year in Physical Therapy.

“I hope I will hit the ground running after all the golf I’ve played in the break and that the experience on the fast greens here in South Africa will pay some handsome dividends this season.”

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

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