Bertine Strauss set a furious pace with a flawless eight-under-par 64 in the first round of the SuperSport Ladies Challenge at Huddle Park Golf Club on Wednesday. The Sunshine Ladies Tour novice fired six birdies and an eagle to finish three strokes clear of Ashleigh Simon and four shots ahead of fellow rookie Carrie Park from South Korea. Nicole Garcia and Melissa Eaton tied for fourth with a pair of 69s.
Strauss claimed a maiden victory in her third Sunshine Ladies Tour start in the Sun International Ladies Challenge on Friday and moved into the number 10 spot in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies Points Standings. She started the penultimate counting event with steely resolve to improve her current ranking for the season finale at Millvale Private Retreat next week and was understandably pleased with her start. The 24-year-old Koster golfer says: ‘This is exactly what I was hoping for. I really want to win this one, but to do that I needed to put space between myself and the field as early as possible. I holed a 15-footer for birdie at the first, hit it to eight foot at four and three foot at the fifth and made both putts for birdies, and then holed a bunker shot at six for an eagle. That little run gave me just the kind of start I was hoping for.’
Strauss collected another birdie at the par five ninth and birdied the two par fives to get to eight under. She says: ‘When you hole out for an eagle, you shouldn’t get too greedy, but it really could have been much lower. I gave myself a lot of chances on the back nine, but at least four attempts burned the edges. Still, if you gave me a 64 at the start of the day, I would have taken it without a fight. Ash and Carrie made a lot of birdies on the back nine, so I’m really happy to sleep on a three shot lead.’ Number four ranked Simon arrived home late on Monday after claiming a joint 18th finish in the RACV Ladies Masters in Australia.
Like Strauss, she is hunting the 320 points on offer to the winner of the penultimate counting event for the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies and made a solid start with six birdies and a lone bogey. She says: ‘I had a session with my coach this morning, because I haven’t seen Doug (Wood) for a while. We worked on my release and my swing felt really good out there.
I found some great pace before the turn and I actually overshot the greens at the first few holes on the back nine. I made great par-saves at 10 and 11, but unfortunately I let one slip at 12.
The rest of the back nine was solid. The birdies at 14, 16 and 17 got me closer to Bertine and I think the next two rounds are going to get very interesting.’ Park, meanwhile, stayed in touch with birdies at 11, 13, 14 and 17.
The 19-year-old Seoul golfer says: ‘It was a really good effort on the back nine. I’m sixth in the rankings right now, so I’m happy to have a solid start to build on to try and improve my ranking.’
Photo credit: Sunshine Ladies Tour