21 February 2023 – Central Gauteng Golf Union’s Samantha Whateley went wire-to-wire to lift the South African Women’s Stroke Play Championship title, while teenager Charlotte Phipps celebrated a hugely popular Silver Division victory at Mount Edgecombe Country Club Estate on Tuesday.
Rounds of 69 on the par-70 Woods Course and a level-par 72 and closing 75 on The Lakes were ample to earn Whateley a long-awaited victory on a tournament total of two-over-par. The Country Club Johannesburg golfer finished six shots clear of Kyra van Kan from Ekurhuleni, Chloe Royston from KwaZulu-Natal, and Southern Cape’s Jasmine Furstenburg.
“I am so happy that I was able to pull it through. It has been a dream of mine to win this tournament since I was young. I have played it every year since I was 12 years old and to finally win it is really very special.”
After temperatures soared to close to 40 degrees in the second round, the golfers arrived to a cold, overcast and windy day at the Lakes.
It turned into a rollercoaster round for the normally steady Whateley, three shots clear at the start.
Having recovered from an early bogey on the second with a birdie on the fourth, she dropped again on the seventh. She bounced back with a birdie at the turn and backed that up with another gain on the 11th hole, but then had a disappointing run of three bogeys on the trot from the 12th. Whateley found the cup again on the 15th for a satisfying birdie, but a double bogey at the final hole left her with a wry smile.
“That finish was a bit bitter-sweet,” said the GolfRSA National Squad member. “It was very windy, and it made a narrow and challenging layout even trickier. If you hit your ball even just a little offline, it was gone.
“Playing the last I could afford the double, but it was a little disappointing to finish at way. It was a fantastic tournament, despite having four seasons in three days. I really like the Lakes course; I find it more challenging and satisfying, as it really places a premium on your course management.
“This win means everything to me. It feels amazing to get it done. Now I am looking forward to the match play. The momentum shifts now, and it’s all about playing for the best score on every hole. I just hope the wind is a little kinder to us on Wednesday.”
Fan favourite Charlotte Phipps gave the Mount Edgecombe members a proper reason to cheer when she made the most of her golf course knowledge in the familiar surroundings of her home course to race raced to a 14-stroke victory.
“I am very happy because the Lakes is my favourite home course, and to win here today in these conditions is extra special,” said Phipps, who carded rounds of 84, 79 and 88.
“It’s great that I can keep this trophy at Mount Edgecombe. It was a tough week, because the rough is up, but I am happy with how I played. The majority of my drives were really good today and I putted really well and saved me a lot of shots.”
Oubaai Golf Club’s Holly Erler finished in second place with rounds of 92, 90 and 83 while Jaime Meth from Country Club Johannesburg was a further stroke adrift in third after carding rounds of 92, 89 and 85.
Now that the stroke play championship is finished, both Whateley and Phipps will have to adapt to the mental and physical demands of the match-play format when they tee it up in the South African Amateur Championships on Wednesday.
“I prefer the match-play format, because, say, you lose one hole, you don’t have much of a deficit and you can come back the next hole. It’s a fun format for me and I am looking forward to the challenge.’
Phipps was equally excited.
“I don’t have much experience in match play tournaments, but I am really excited to have a chance to play in the SA Amateur. I think it’s going to be fun, because you just focus on hole at a time.”
MEN’S MATCH PLAY ROUND 1
Over at the Woods course, the first round of the men’s match play stage concluded with 2023 South African Stroke Play Championship winner Martin Couvra leading the way. First out at 07h00, the, Frenchman Martin Couvra dispatched Todd Parker from Namibia 6 & 5.
Reigning Amateur champion Aldrich Potgieter, who was denied the Proudfoot Trophy by Couvra in a sudden-death play-off after the pair tied on 13-under in the 36-hole stroke play qualifier, also comfortably advanced to the top 32.
It was a good day for the Irish, as Joshua Hill, Peter O’Keeffe, Robert Moran and Matthew McClean cleared the first hurdle. Robert Brazil also made the next round, but he had to eliminate fellow Golf Ireland team-mate Hugh Foley 2 & 1 to get there.
Matt Roberts from Wales, Scotland’s Gregors – Tait and Graham – and Jamie Mann, as well as Englishman Mark Stockdale all advanced, but Matthew Wilson from Scotland’s campaign was halted by South African Golf Development Board member Lyle Pedro, who won on the 21st hole.
A few more internationals fell at the first hurdle.
Christiaan Heyman defeated Swiss golfer Thomas Lecomte, Dan Bennett handed Shaurya Bhattacharya from India his walking papers and Jono Broomhead routed Adel Balala from Kenya.