It was one for the books as top ranked amateur Ivanna Samu upstaged the country’s leading professionals to grab the first round lead in the Cape Town Ladies Open at Royal Cape Golf Club on Wednesday. The lanky 17-year-old Ruimsig golfer showed some exceptional skills in a testy north-westerly wind to fire an opening six-under-par 68 for a one stroke lead over the high profile likes of Lee-Anne Pace, Ashleigh Simon and Monique Smit. Recent Ladies Tshwane Open champion Smit was not at all surprised to see Samu in pole position.
The Fancourt golfer says: ‘It was bound to happen. Ivanna finished seventh in three events on the Sunshine Ladies Tour since the SA Women’s Open and she won the Leading Amateur award in her last three starts. She’s got game and is mentally very strong for someone so young.’ Samu birdied all three par fives on the front nine to tie playing partner Melissa Eaton at the turn, but she left the former Symetra Tour winner behind with an eagle at the par five 11th and a brace of birdies at 12 and 13. Samu says: ‘I drove the green at three and two-putted for birdie, and then chipped to tap-in distance for the birdie at five. I left my second at seven just short of the greenside bunker, chipped to eight foot and made that birdie putt, too. Nine could have been disastrous, but I pulled off a huge par-save. I hit my tee shot left into the trees, punched out hard and the ball rolled to the back of the green. I should have listened to my caddie. He wanted me to chip, but I opted for the putter and ran the ball six meters past the hole. At least I made the return putt to save par.’
Samu holed a trap shot at 12 for eagle and drained two eight-footers for birdies at 12 and 13, but ran into some tree trouble again at 16. Samu says: ‘I pulled my drive into the trees and tried to punch out, but the ball clipped a tree and dropped straight down. I duffed the third shot and had to hit a hard four-iron into the wind to get on the green. I had a 20 metre putt and the ball stopped an inch short of the cup. The last couple of holes were pretty tough. The course lay-out sets up for the prevailing wind, which is South East, but we played straight into a North West wind. I just played for pars at 17 and 18.’ Samu is relishing the chance to play with Simon and Smit in the second round.
The reining Sanlam SA Amateur Stroke Play champion says: ‘When I played on the Sunshine Ladies Tour last year, I had big time stage fright but this season I’m really comfortable out there. Last year I played the pros, but now I play the course. It’s going to be great to play with Monique and Ashleigh. I got to know Monique really well during the two-day trip we had with City of Tshwane and Ash was my idol growing up. They are both incredible golfers and they are always happy to impart a little wisdom to help us amateurs to improve. That’s what I love about playing on the Sunshine Ladies Tour. Like Rebecca Hudson said to me at Houghton: “You can’t take my money, so I don’t have anything to lose by helping you beat me”.’ And, on a day where 17 players in the 56-strong international field managed to break par, 52-year-old Laurette Maritz also showed some vintage form with a flawless 70 to finish within striking distance of the young leader. Maritz broke her right hand playing from a bunker during the French Open in September last year.
The two-time Ladies European Tour champion made her competitive comeback in the third event in late January and followed the tie for 20th at Houghton Golf Club with a joint eighth place finish in the Ladies Tshwane Open at Zwartkop Country Club last week. Maritz finished one stroke clear of South Africa’s Melissa Eaton and 2016 Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies champion Rebecca Hudson from England.
FIRST ROUND LEADERBOARD
68 – Ivanna Samu (AMA)
69 – Monique Smit, Ashleigh Simon, Lee-Anne Pace
70 – Laurette Maritz
71 – Melissa Eaton, Rebecca Hudson ENG
72 – Lejan Lewthwaite, Carrie Park KOR
Photo credit: Sunshine Ladies Tour