Vintage Tebbutt, in a class of her own
Drawing on the experience gained from nearly four decades on the amateur circuit plus a relaxed approach, this 54-year-old veteran is still taming golf’s young fillies.
The feisty Capetonian rolled back the years in memorable style at Royal Cape, defeating girls years her junior for a place in the semi-final of the Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Championship.
Her 1up quarterfinal triumph over South Africa’s number one ranked amateur Bertine Strauss was hard earned and slow in arriving, but after so many years in the game, Tebbutt has learned that you just relax and enjoy yourself.
Chasing a sixth title at the circuit’s flagship event, she gave 17-year-old Nohbule Dlamini – the winner of the Matchplay Championship – a solid run for her money.
“This was a big one,” said the petite player from Rondebosch who lost her semi-final match to Dlamini at the very last hole. “Bertine and Nobuhle are strong players and they will certainly be dominating the leaderboard in the future.”
Tebbut was three down through seven against Dlamini, but an ace at the eighth – her eighth career hole-in-one – saw her cut the deficit to two.
By the time the pair reached the 16th, Tebbutt was down three again but, as the pressure took it’s toll on the youngster from Swaziland, Tebbutt drew on her experience and comfortably won the 16th and 17th.
While Dlamini plugged her approach in the greenside bunker, Tebbutt’s pitched on the front of the green and she looked set to push the match into extra time.
Dlamini, though, played a superb trapshot to seven-foot, forcing Tebbutt to go for the birdie putt. She pushed it just too hard and her ball ran past the hole – leaving the door open for the young gun to take the match.
Putting under huge pressure, Dlamini found the back of the hole and raised her hands in victory – the disbelief written across her face.
“Gilly Tebbutt is one of the toughest players I have ever played against,” she said after signing the winning card. “I could not have asked for a better opponent.
“She is absolutely brilliant around the green; she really has the best short game I have ever seen. She is like one of those little dogs that bite your leg and just won’t let go.”