Weinstein stuns at Glacier Junior Series

Lali Stander reports from Johannesburg (16 February 2012)

When she was younger, boys would often taunt Lara Weinstein on the golf course. They would tell her to “be a good girl, to go home and play with her dolls and leave golf to the professionals.”

But after pulling off the most extraordinary victory at the Glacier Junior Series at Ebotse Country Club in Benoni on Sunday, no-one will dare to send this petite 17-year-old home again.

A force on the Women’s SA Golf circuit for some years, Weinstein underlined her growing stature when she outplayed 36 junior boys to become the first female finalist in the series sponsored by Glacier by Sanlam since it launched in 2010.

The teenager from Dowerglen in Edenvale booked her spot in the elite winners-only field for the Series Final later this year when she claimed the Dave Usendorff Tournament with a one-under-par 71 to win by one stroke from nearest rival, Phillip Kruse, and two shots former finalist Keegan de Lange and Arno Muller.

Weinstein will tee it up in the Final, where she will compete with the other Glacier Junior Series Winners for an all-expenses paid trip to the Orange Bowl Junior Invitational in the United States in December.

“The Orange Bowl is the biggest, most prestigious junior golf tournament in the world,” said the scratch handicapper from Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club. “I played in it for the first time last year and it is really world class. It would be fantastic to qualify and compete there again.”

Weinstein took up golf at the age of eight and in her first year of playing the game, her handicap dropped by 13 shots. She proved her worth against the boys before when she became the first girl ever to win the Glendower Junior Club Championships in 2009 and has been no stranger to the winner’s circle.

In addition to a string of individual victories, Weinstein represented South Africa at the World Junior Championships in Jakarta from age 13 to 17 and competed for the country at the Harder German Junior Masters and the Girls British Open Amateur Championships in 2010 and 2011. She also participated in the Annika Invitational in 2011 and 2012, the Gate American Invitational Masters in Florida in 2010 and 2011 and won the Hex City Albatross Invitational in India in 2010.

One of the top-ranked players in the country, Weinstein said the Glacier Junior Series experience has her really fired up for the rest of the year. “I will compete in a few more of the Glacier Junior Series events which don’t conflict with the Women’s SA Golf calendar this year,” she said Weinstein.

Currently completing her final year at Holy Rosary High School, where she earned a golf scholarship in 2008, Weinstein will take up a golf scholarship at the University of Texas in August 2013.

“The tournaments are a fantastic way to keep yourself competitive. They are of the highest standard and run very professionally. I especially enjoyed seeing so many higher handicap juniors compete in the B- and C-Divisions. This is the best place for them to learn what competitive golf is all about. And there is a great fun element to the tournaments, too, which is important for the younger golfers.”

Former top amateur and professional Dave Usendorff hopes Weinstein’s victory inspires many of the up-and-coming girls in the junior ranks.

“I hope that what Lara has done will inspire the girls to keep entering the Glacier Junior Series tournaments and to compete. Nothing lifts and improves your game more than competition and she has shown that it is possible to beat the boys and win. Nothing should stop the rest from trying, too.”

DAVE USENDORFF TOURNAMENT RESULTS (Ebotse Country Club, 12 February 2012)

A-Division (1-6 Handicap)

1. Lara Weinstein 71 gross

2. Phillip Kruse 72 gross

3. Keegan De Lange 73 gross (on count out)

Best Nett – Jacques Oelofse 72

B-Division (7-18 Handicap)

1. Jordan Parsons 78 gross

2. Yen Choo 79 gross

3. Shaun Jones 81 gross

Best Nett – Jaco Kruger 72 (on count out)

C-Division (19-36 Handicap)

1. Waldo Grobelaar 43 pts

2. Keiyuree Moodley 42 pts (also a girl)

3. Arno Kruger 39 pts

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