She claimed her maiden Sunshine Ladies Tour break through at Houghton Golf Club in 2014 and a resurgence to form in the Ladies Joburg Open left Kim Williams hungry to target a Chase to Investec Cup for Ladies double from 25-27 January. Williams says: ‘I gained so much confidence from those first two rounds in the Ladies Joburg Open.’ She lagged one stroke off the pacesetters in both the first and second rounds at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club.
She says: ‘It’s been a long time since I played myself into contention and it had left me really hungry to shoot for the moon again. The 76 in the final round was disappointing, but it did nothing to my confidence. My grip became a little too strong and I was hitting every shot left. Double at the first and two more bogeys at six and nine. I couldn’t score because I was left myself too much work to do to get to the green. On the plus side, though, I had a bogey-free back nine, so the short game was working well.’ Her coach Graeme Francis walked the final round with Williams and identified the problem. Francis says: ‘We put a lot of hard work in over the last four days and I’m happy that we got it sorted for Houghton Golf Club this week. It was great to be playing the kind of golf that I know I can. I love the Houghton layout and I’m just hungry for more of the same this week.’
Williams was one of the country’s most decorated amateurs when she joined the pro ranks in 2014. She represented South Africa more than 15 times on the international stage, including a record four appearances in the prestigious biennial Spirit International. A multiple Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur and Stroke Play Championship winner, she recorded more than 30 victories and held the number one spot for almost two years.
Williams broke through at the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Houghton just two months after securing a her card for the Ladies European Tour in December 2013. A slew of top 10 finishes saw her qualify for the first season-ending Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies and she finished the 2014 season ranked sixth. She says: ‘I guess what followed that successful Sunshine Ladies Tour debut could be best described as a journey in highs and lows. Like the rest of the LET rookies, I left for Europe with stars in my eyes, but it didn’t take me long to discover just how tough it was to make a living on the LET. The tournaments are all over the place and sometimes there are up to eight weeks between tournaments. With limited starts on your Q-School card, you struggle to gain and keep momentum. The financial pressure is simply enormous and when my sponsor pulled out mid-way through my first season, I was just not able to keep going on my own. It was a huge disappointment, but I dug in and completed my PGA Teaching Professional Course at Tuks. I took a coaching job at GFG Academy and Graeme and I worked on my game. Mentally I am much stronger than ever. It’s great to be heading back to Houghton where it all started for me and I definitely have my eye on the prize this week.’
The absence of Ladies Joburg Open champion Lee-Anne Pace does open the door for Williams this week, but if she is to achieve a dream comeback on Wednesday, she will have to hold off the onslaught of a few tough challengers. The field is strengthened by multiple Sunshine Ladies Tour winners Ashleigh Simon and Stacy Bregman, as well as last year’s Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies runner-up, Melissa Eaton. Nicole Garcia, who claimed her maiden win the Chace to Investec Cup for Ladies at Glendower last year, will be looking to improve on a runner-up finish at Houghton in 2014, while experienced Ladies European Tour champion Rebecca Hudson is hungry to capitalise on handful of top 10 finishes last season in her second tour of duty on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.
Williams is also weary of rookies Lejan Lewthwaite and Carrie Park, finished second and third respectively in the SA Women’s Open in December. She says: ‘The field is a lot stronger and the depth of talent is definitely much deeper than two years ago. But I’m feeling very positive about this week. A good performance at Houghton will put me in the challenge for the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies race. Ultimately that is the goal this season.’
Photo credit: Sunshine Ladies Tour