Border amateur Zethu Myeki will make an historic debut for Womens Golf South Africa when she lines up in the prestigious All-Africa Challenge Trophy (AACT) alongside top ranked Kaleigh Telfer and Ivanna Samu in Tunisia this April. The country’s number three ranked player is proud to become the first black female golfer to wear the green and gold in the biennial event, supported by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club (R&A). The 23-year-old Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation player says: ‘I have worked incredibly hard for this honour and I am very, very proud of my selection to the South African team. Our country has such a proud history in this event and I am raring for us to launch our title defence in Tunisia and bring the trophy home.’
With the exception of 2006, South Africa has claimed victory in every other edition of the high-status team championship since its inception in 1992 and the South African trio will be hunting down the country’s 12 title at the Citrus Golf Course in Hammamet from 4-9 April. South Africa’s Cara Gorlei, Michaela Fletcher and Magda Kruger faced a total of 16 nations at the Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi in the 2014 AACT, including the host nation Kenya, Botswana, Cameroon, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The trio combined for a winning score of 442 in 2014 to edge out Kenya for an 11 stroke victory.
Womens Golf South Africa president Karen Olivant will accompany the team to Tunisia and says: ‘Kaleigh, Ivanna and Zethu all earned their spot on the South African team and I believe we have chosen the strongest side possible to drive our title defence. There is a huge demand for international competition in Africa and the AACT is a popular tournament, because most of the African nations don’t get the chance to travel to Europe or America often due to budget constraints. The championship brings together the best amateur golfers throughout Africa and our team will definitely face some stiff competition, but I believe they are well-equipped for the challenge ahead.’ Telfer and Samu have been in the top two spots on the WGSA Senior Rankings since early 2015, but Myeki broke into the top five in a stand-out season, sparked by her victory in the 2015 Border Championship in February last year.
She took sixth overall in the Sanlam SA Women’s Stroke Play Championship at Glendower in April and cemented her position with third place finishes in the Gauteng Senior, Southern Cape and Gauteng 54-Hole Championships and top five finishes in the Ekurhuleni, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga Championships. Myeki surged to third in the standings after the Mpumalanga Championship in November 2015 and upstaged Telfer and Samu with a runner-up finish in the Eastern Province Stroke Play Championship. She also reached the final of the Match Play Championship at Port Elizabeth Golf Club.
A graduate of the South African Golf Development Board programme in Border, Myeki spent four years giving back to golf until the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation (EEFF) offered her membership at the start of 2015. Myeki says: ‘The EEFF gave me the opportunity to spread my wings. Being able to compete on the WGSA national circuit was definitely a huge reason why my game improved in leaps and bounds. To play against girls like Cara, Bianca Theron, Kaleigh and Ivanna on a regular basis helped me to take my game to the next level. It also helped me to improve my all-round game and my mental state of mind. Each time I returned from a tournament, Michelle and I would work on an aspect of my game and I would test it at the next event. My goal at the beginning of 2015 was to reach the top five and to qualify on merit to represent South Africa. It was a really proud moment when I heard the news about my selection for the AACT. I realise that it is a huge deal to become the first black female golfer to earn national colours and I hope my achievement will motivate girls of colour all over South Africa to pursue their dreams and goals. I just want to make everyone proud who supported me and help my team-mates to win this year.’
The format of the AACT is similar to the World Amateur Team Championship. Each team is represented by three players and the best two scores per round count towards the daily team score in the 54-hole stroke play championship.
Photo credit: Sunshine Ladies Tour