Underdogs rule at Sanlam Women’s SA Amateur

Report from Lali Stander

RUSTENBURG (14 April 2011) – Match Play golf can be unpredictable and never more so than in today’s semi-final matches at the Sanlam South African Women’s Amateur at Rustenburg Golf Club.

In two tightly fought duels, underdogs Iliska Verwey and Nobuhle Dlamini fought their way past defending champion Kim Williams and local favourite Bertine Strauss while Rustenburg Lady Captain derailed 10-year-old Woo-Ju Son’s winning march in the B-Division.

Craddock’s Verwey shipped Williams 3 and 1, while 2009 champion Nobuhle Dlamini knocked out Strauss 3 and 2.

“Our match was very even,” said a disappointed Williams. “I took first blood, Iliska won the second and we traded punches until Kim got the advantage with a par at the sixth. I birdied the seventh and we back to halving holes.”

The status quo remained until Williams knocked in a birdie at 11 to go one up, but Verwey managed to par the 12th to even the score.

“That’s the problem with two friends playing each other,” said Verwey. “We tend to chat between shots and between holes, so you lose your focus. I realised that I needed to take some distance and get my head down if I wanted to win this one.”

Back-to-back birdies at 13 and 14 put Verwey two clear and she won the match with par at the 17th after the pair halved the 15 and 16.

“I was really disappointed to throw away the Stroke Play Championship,” said Verwey, who tied for fourth on Tuesday. The WGSA number two had led the first two rounds, but she couldn’t match the four-under-par 68 Williams produced to successfully defend her title.

“It took a while to get myself back in the right head space and put it behind me. This morning I played the way I like to; it’s nice to have my game back.

“Now I’m just one match away. I really, really want to win the match play.”

Strauss emerged as a serious threat after she beat the highly rated Henriette Frylinck in the semi-final. The former SA number one met her match when she came up against the mirrored tenacity of the young Swazi golfer in the semi-final.

The former champion birdied the second hole to take the early lead and went two up with another birdie at the eighth. At the 10th it looked like Strauss might reel her in.

“I pushed my drive so far left I had to take my second from the 11th fairway,” explained Dlamini. “I had to go for the green and somehow I got it over the trees.”

Her second shot landed below a slope, about a meter behind the green. “Nobuhle was standing above the ball facing a downward slope and she chipped it like she did that 20 times a day,” said Strauss, who could only respond with par.

Strauss won 11 with a birdie and took the 13th when Dlamini flew the green at 12. “I was in the bunker behind the green. I hit a decent trap shot but the putt lipped out.”

“She made up for it at the 13th,” said Strauss. Both players were both putting from similar positions at the back to a front edge pin just beyond a slope. “I grazed the hole but she holed a 25-foot monster. I didn’t drop a shot all day, but that was the measure of how Nobuhle won; she showed no fear at all and holed the putts when they counted.”

Dlamini wrapped the match up at the 16th after knocking in short putt for birdie at the 15th,

Although the 19-year-old Tuks student has a formidable match play record, Verwey has been the inform player this year with victories at the Eastern Cape Match Play Championship, as well as the Western Province and KZN Match Play and Stroke Play championships.

But the 22-year-old is taking nothing for granted.

“Nobuhle has a reputation as a tough match play opponent and I’m sure she will bring everything tomorrow,” said Verwey. “My game is where it needs to be.

“But in match play anything can happen. Both of us can be firing on eight cylinders tomorrow. It’s guaranteed to be a tough match.”

Meanwhile Dippenaar will face Wilna Bredenhann for the SALGU Bowl in the B-Division final after the Namibian beat Valda Ford 5 and 3.

Dippenaar, who beat Son 4 and 2, said it was tough playing the 10-year-old.

“It’s hard playing someone 30 years younger, who is throwing everything into the match,” she said.

“The course is so long, but she just went for it.

“Woo-Ju is something else. She is going to go very far and I wouldn’t have minded losing to her. At least now, when she starts winning on the LPGA Tour, I’ll be able to say I once beat her.”

SEMI-FINAL RESULTS: A-Division (handicaps 1-9)

Iliska Verwey def Kim Williams3/1

Nobuhle Dlamini def Bertine Strauss 3/2

QUARTER-FINAL RESULTS: A-Division (handicaps 1-9)

Kim Williams def Nicole Becker 5/4

Iliska Verwey def Talia Nel 8/6

Nobuhle Dlamini def Lejan Lewthwaite 2/1

Bertine Strauss def Henrietta Frylinck 3/2

SEMI-FINAL RESULTS: B-Division (handicaps 10-18)

Thelma Dippenaar def Woo-Ju Son 4/2

Wilna Dippenaar def Valda Ford 5/3

QUARTER FINAL RESULTS: B-Division (handicaps 10-18)

Woo-Ju Son def Bridget Rodrigues 4/3

Thelma Dippenaar def Kim de Klerk 3/1

Valda Ford def Shawnelle de Lange 2/1

Wilna Dippenaar def Chiara Contomathios 4/3

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