18 February 2023 – Maybe a change of venue for the 2023 edition of the South African Amateur Championships, taking place at Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate from Sunday, will signal a change of luck for GolfRSA No 1 Kyra van Kan.
The combined championship tees off with the men’s 36-hole qualifier and the SA Women’s Stroke Play Championship starting concurrently on the Lakes and Woods courses.
The men’s field will be cut to the top 64 and the match play stage commences on Tuesday at the Woods Course. At the conclusion of the 54-hole women’s stroke play event, the field will be set for their two-division match play stage.
The two fields will alternate courses over the first couple of days, but the final two rounds of the glory battles will be decided on the challenging par-70 Woods championship layout.
Van Kan was just 14 when she reached the 36-hole final of the women’s A-Division for the first time, but lost to two-time champion and number-one ranked Caitlyn Macnab at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.
A year later, she was knocked out in the second round by finalist Megan Streicher – also defeated by Macnab, and in 2022, she once again came close to victory. This time, it was Marine Legentil who denied the Ekurhuleni junior to prevail 5&3 in the 36-hole final.
Remaining on the upwards trajectory that began in 2020, Van Kan reached the summit of the Open Amateur rankings last year and this time, she hopes a change of venue brings a change of fortune.
“I excited to start the SA Amateur Championships at two outstanding golf courses,” said Van Kan. “I have worked really hard to prepare for this week and I have gained a lot of international experience since last year. Mostly, I learned that it takes a lot of confidence to trust yourself and play good golf.”
Van Kan consulted the locals and gained some valuable insights.
“I had not played any of these courses before, so I spoke to some of the members here at Mount Edgecombe about the qualities of the courses, and then I got a feel for myself when I play my practice rounds. I’m feeling good about my game.”
With her experience, young as she is, Van Kan will be fully aware of the test that lies ahead.
“We have a strong Championship Division field this week, and there will be no gimmies,” Van Kan said. “You have to rock up with your A-game and play every hole as best you can. In the SA Women’s Stroke Play, especially, there is little room for error.
“The weather could also be a huge factor. Last week in the South African Stroke Play Championship the guys had to deal with four seasons in four days, so you have to be ready to cope with rain, heat, humidity, and swirling winds; but it’s the same for everyone, so you just have to keep your head down and get on with it.”
Van Kan’s chief opposition for the stroke play title is Samantha Whateley and Bobbi Brown, ranked second and third respectively, but the local talents will have home course advantage and a big fan base in support. Look out for GolfRSA National Squad member Olivia Wood from Umhlali and Chloe Royston from Cotswold Downs to throw down the gauntlet.
Other in-form players rising stars in the GolfRSA Women’s National Squad to watch include Kesha Louw from Border, Gauteng North’s Zane Kleynhans, and recent Eastern Province and Border Championship winner Jasmine Furstenburg from Southern Cape, who underlined her prowess in the wind with a two-shot victory in testing conditions at Humewood Golf Club.
Expect Mount Edgecombe’s Michaele Rae, Kgomotso Ndungane, Charlotte Phipps and Sally-Ann Hyatt to apply their local knowledge to mount a challenge in the Silver Division.
Other local contenders include Darlene Menzies and Kerry Wood from Kloof, Prince Grant’s Paro Kistensamy, while Russo Roberts-Gouws – runner-up in the 2022 SA Women’s Mid-Amateur Stroke Play Championship at Mossel Bay Golf Club – could give the youngsters a run for their money.
GolfRSA CEO Grant Hepburn said it will definitely be a testing week which should produce some exciting results.
“After three years of playing on the Highveld, we are back at the coast where players will be tested by very different conditions, and will be asked of their games, particularly if the wind gets up.
“Modern elite amateurs have a short window in which to claim the biggest prize in South African amateur golf, and we wish all players great golfing this week in KwaZulu-Natal.
“The South African Stroke Play Championship was, by all accounts, a great success, and our thanks goes out to the Mount Edgecombe Team. Thank you Desiree and Kevin Stone, the green staff and clubhouse staff for your tremendous effort alongside our team from GolfRSA in making these events happen.
“Lastly, a big thank you to all the members for giving up your courses for our premier championship. We are very grateful for opportunity you have afforded our amateurs to compete at this fantastic venue. I have no doubt it will be a resounding success.”