USA-bound Theron lifts EP Stroke Play title
Former top ranked SA junior Bianca Theron returned to her vintage best at Humewood Links and issued a warning to her peers an emphatic six stroke victory in the Eastern Province Stroke Play Championship on the weekend.
The 18-year-old Devonvale golfer unfurled an opening eight-under-par 64 to pull seven shots clear of the chasing pack and braved a three-club North-Westerly wind in Port Elizabeth to close with a 76 and seal victory four-under-par 140.
In her opening gambit, Theron offset two bogeys with a pair of birdies to turn in two under, and notched four birdies and an eagle at the 18th to romp to a flawless 31.
“That first round set me up for victory, because the wind howled in the afternoon and the final round was a lot more colourful,” Theron said.
“It’s been a while since I competed and I was really excited to get the juices flowing. I still feel a little bit rusty, but I was surprised how quickly I got back into competition mode.
“I just focused executing each shot the way I planned it. My caddie, Alvin van der Merwe, kept me entertained between shots, so I never even thought about my score or the scoreboard.”
The Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation player dominated the junior scene until 2013, and claimed five top 10 finishes in her six starts last year, including a runner-up finish in the Curro SA World Juniors International and sixth in the Pam Golding Properties Western Province Championship.
However, with a golf scholarship to Mississippi State University on the line, golf had to take a back seat in her final year at Stellenberg High School in Durbanville.
The hard work was worth it, though.
In December, Theron captured the prestigious Dr Hasso Plattner Award for a third successive season at the annual Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation Awards, having achieved an outstanding 87% average.
“I needed a good result to secure the golf scholarship this year, but I also wanted to compete and challenge every time I teed it up,” Theron said.
“I hated the conflict but the sacrifice was worth it. I am leaving for Mississippi in August to study BSC Mathematics and join the Bulldog family. Until then, I just want to compete my heart out. It felt so good to get back on the podium in Port Elizabeth.”
Theron hopes to carry her form to a solid debut when she lines up in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Glendower on Thursday.
“I would really like to learn as much as possible from playing with the professionals on the Sunshine Ladies Tour in the next two months,” Theron said.
“One of my goals has been to win the Sanlam SA Women’s Stroke Play or Match Play. I really want to prepare well and give myself a really good chance to challenge in the Stroke Play in April.”
Cara Gorlei from Western Province carded rounds of 71 and 75 to take sole second on 146, while current SA number one Ivanna Samu finished a further stroke adrift after rounds of 72 and 75.
Samu, the reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion, and Gorlei, who won the 2014 Nomads Girls Stroke Play Championship and Nomads SA Rose Bowl, will also join the action at Glendower.
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of Womens Golf South Africa.