Tinkerbell the surprise upset at SA Matchplay

She hasn’t quite qualified for the Big League yet, but Eleonora Galletti certainly stole the thunder – and the crowds – from the top names at the Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Matchplay Championship at Royal Cape.

A little over a meter in her golf shoes and weighing in well under 30 kilos, this wisp of a girl packs an almighty punch.

A 13-handicap, Galletti teed off in the B-Division of the Matchplay for handicaps 10-18.

She comfortably defeated the capable Sabrina Horn 3 & 2 in the first round on Wednesday morning and took her second round match, a hard-fought affair against Marlene Scholtz, to the very last hole.

Galletti was 2up after six, but Scholtz took one back at the seventh and squared the match at the ninth. From there it was neck-and-neck until the 18th hole, where the more experienced player took the game.

It was touch and go, though, for Scholtz as Galletti’s defeat a result of an unlucky bounce on the downhill slope of the green. She gave the putt a good effort, but it lipped and she putted out for a five.

“People ask me about confidence and stuff, but I really don’t get that,” said Galletti. “I just know that when I hit a good shot and win a hole, it feels a whole lot better than losing a hole.

“I don’t think about losing, I just play hole by hole. But it feels good to win.”

To the question if all the attention here at the tournament is getting a bit much, she bit her lip, then smiled broadly and replied: “Yeah, kind of. It’s really crazy, because it just basically happened overnight. I played the first two rounds of the Strokeplay and suddenly, yesterday, everyone is coming up to me and taking my photo.

“It’s cool, though, people coming up to me and congratulating me. But not when I’m trying to play to win.”

At the ridiculously tender age of 15, Ashleigh Simon won the South African Open. With 85 trophies already on the mantle, does she think she can do better?

“I think Ashleigh is a great player; we play out of the same club. I even got her signature once. Yes, I would like to win the SA Open but I think I would like to win the SA Amateur first. You know, do things step by step.

“Anyway, that’s still in the future. Right now, I first have to make the quarterfinals.”

Dad Mario nods approvingly.

Yes, she may not be the youngest winner in the world, but that was spoken like a true champion.

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