Van Kan, Gutuza and Sikhonde triumph at Sun City

GolfRSA No 1 Kyra van Kan, Sarah Gutuza and eight-year-old Milani Sikhonde emerged triumphant in the 2023 Nomads SA Girls Rose Bowl Championship, presented by Sun International at the Lost City Golf Course at the Sun City Resort; credit GolfRSA.

23 March 2023 – GolfRSA No 1 Kyra van Kan, Sarah Gutuza and eight-year-old Milani Sikhonde had a lot to celebrate after scooping the 2023 Nomads SA Girls Rose Bowl presented by Sun International titles with outstanding performances at Sun City this March.

Reigning South African Amateur champion Van Kan arrived at the Lost City Golf Course in hot form after finishing as the Leading Amateur in the Sunshine Ladies and Ladies European Tours’ co-sanctioned Investec South African Women’s Open a fortnight ago.

She backed up an opening one-under 71 with a 73 on day one in the blistering heat in the North West and waltzed to a 13-shot victory in the Championship Division, courtesy of an unrivalled third round of five-under 67.

At the end of the second round, Van Kan had bullishly declared that the Lost City Golf Course was there for the taking and she was disappointed that she had not taken better advantage of her opportunities.

She made up for it in the final round, firing six birdies in a near-perfect round of 67.

“My wedges were pretty nice today and I was able to stick them close,” Van Kan said. “I birdied all the par-fives. I told my dad that I wanted to shoot four-under for the tournament this week, so going five-under was really special. It shows me that I can stick to my game plan and focus on the goal, so, it was a good day for me.”

2023 Nomads SA Girls Rose Bowl Championship winner Kyra van Kan at the Lost City Golf Course at the Sun City Resort; credit GolfRSA

Van Kan is well aware of the prestige of this tournament and the significant role the Nomads Golf Club of South Africa plays in developing and growing the game in South Africa.

“This is a huge event and to win at this prestigious venue and against such a strong field is incredible,” she said. “Everything that GolfRSA, the Nomads and Sun International have done to make this event happen is absolutely amazing.”

Fellow GolfRSA National Squad members Gia Raad from Central Gauteng (224) and Kesha Louw from Border (225) finished second and third respectively.

Gutuza trailed fellow Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club junior Valentina Sakota by five shots after an opening 85, but she rallied with a second round 87 to pull two shots clear in the Silver Division.

The 18-year-old knew she had her work cut out and she stuck to her game plan. A final round 82 was enough to secure a timely victory before she ascends to the championship division.

2023 Nomads SA Girls Rose Bowl Championship Silver Division winner Sarah Gutuza; credit GolfRSA

“This is probably going to be one of my last events in this division before I go to the Championship Division, so this win is a good way to go out,” Gutuza said after her triumph.

“I had a bad last round at the South African Amateur Championships and today, I just wanted to do better than I did in the last round of that tournament. My putting was a lot better today; I made the comeback putts, and I made the long putts, and I didn’t lose the ball.

“I stuck to my own game plan, and played to my strengths and I didn’t get distracted by what my playing partners were doing. It feels really good to get this one in the bag.”

Fellow Central Gauteng junior Yaone Mokgatle closed with an 87 to finish in second, while Ekurhuleni’s  Keira Howroyd and Amy Stanton from Central Gauteng tied for third.

Serengeti Golf Estates’ young sensation and first-time participant in this prestigious event, Sikhonde, was the talk of the town in the Bronze Division.

2023 Nomads SA Girls Rose Bowl Championship Bronze Division winner Milani Sikhonde; credit GolfRSA

Before the first tee shot was even fired in the 36-hole Individual Stableford competition, she declared that her only target was to win on debut and Sikhonde was true to her word, carding rounds of 35 and 34 for an impressive four-point victory.

“The key for me was to concentrate, do my best and keep on going,” said Sikhonde after claiming the title with 69 points. “I putted really well, but the other parts of my game were good, too. I am very happy about this win. It means the world to me. It’s my first time playing this tournament and it feels great to win.”

Caitlen van Heerden from Bloemfontein and Western Province pair Aminah Hendricks and Tyra Booysen tied for second on 65 points.

GolfRSA National Squad members scored a clean sweep in the individual age categories, with Lisa Coetzer from Ekurhuleni winning the Junior Girls U-12, North West’s Megan Marais the Junior Girls U-14 and Raad from Central Gauteng the Junior Girls U-16.