Verwey claims Sanlam Women’s SA Amateur

Report from Lali Stander

RUSTENBURG, North West (15 April 2011) – Iliska Verwey underlined her growing potential when she won an enthralling 34-hole marathon against Swaziland’s Nobuhle Dlamini to claim the Sanlam Women’s SA Amateur Match Play Championship title at Rustenburg Golf Club today.

The WGSA number two was delighted to lift the Match Play trophy just days after letting the Stroke Play championship slip.

“It was a great way to cap off the week,” said the newly minted champion. “Winning the Match Play has taken the sting right out of throwing the Stroke Play away.”

The 22-year-old Southern Cape golfer had led the first two rounds of the stroke play championship but couldn’t maintain the focus to challenge Kim Williams, who successfully defended her title. Today, Verwey found a way to push the envelope all the way to the winner’s circle.

“Any time you play match play it is really tough on your mind. It’s just an emotional rollercoaster you go through each and every match.

“Today was especially hard because Nobby really challenged hard. The match was an incredible tussle. She never let up and every time I got my nose in front, she lifted her game.

“It all changed for me going down the last 11 holes. I knew I had to dig deep because only birdies would do it and I was able to deliver.

“Winning on this stage has been my dream ever since I started playing. To come back after such a disappointing season last year and turn things around like this, is incredible.”

Three up through the first eight holes, Dlamini had the match well in hand, but Verwey managed to square the match at the 17th hole. The Southern Cape golfer had a chance to swing the momentum in her favour after Dlamini’s drive at the 18th landed among the trees and her approach flew the green. A superb chip to a couple of inches from the 2009 champion’s unnerved Verwey, who rushed a 3-foot birdie putt past the hole.

When the duel for the biggest prize on the Women’s Amateur Circuit resumed after lunch, it took Verwey another nine holes to swing the match in her favour.

She won the 20th, but Dlamini reeled her in at the 22nd and held on through the next hole. Verwey squared the match again at the 24th, lurched ahead with a birdie at the par-five eighth, but Dlamini responded with a birdie of own to square the match again.

“I think I hit fifth gear after the turn, when I realised I’d have to knock in some birdies to win,” said Verwey. She holed an 18-footer for birdie at the 29th, won the 30th with a par and knocked in an 8-footer for birdie at the 31st to go three up.

A 15-foot birdie putt at the 32nd moved her four clear but Dlamini fought back with a birdie at the 33rd to cut her lead to three. Birdies for both players at the par-five 16th saw Verwey close out for a 3 and 2 victory.

“That’s the way match play goes,” said Verwey. “It takes the kind of strategy that you don’t use in a stroke-play tournament. Winning this title because it’s tangible proof of how much my mindset has improved. Winning this means everything to me.”

In the Championship Plate division, Tiffany Avern-Taplin defeated local favourite Sune du Plooy 5 and 4 to lift the SALGU Trophy.

Namibian Wilna Bredenhann held on to beat Rustenburg Golf Club Ladies captain Thelma Dippenaar at the last hole for the B-Division title, while Maggi du Toit downed Nicole Fourie 4 and 3 to win the A-Division Flight.

Sammy Barber came from three down to win the B-Division Flight from unheralded six-handicapper, Magda Kruger. The 15-year-old from Pretoria only started playing golf 20 months ago. She held the lead until the 29th hole but Barber finished with three pars and a birdie to win 3 and 1.

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