SUN CITY (23 October 2012) – Ask any golfer, professional or amateur, what it takes to succeed in this game and they will tell you that you need talent, skill and a little bit of luck.
Good fortune was certainly smiling on KwaZulu-Natal teenager Michaela Fletcher and Bredasdorp Golf Club’s general manager Werner Ferreira, who were declared the overall winners at this Sanlam Cancer Challenge at Sun City on Tuesday.
Fletcher, who shot a 76 at Lost City and posted a 74 at the Gary Player Country Club for a 67 point total in the Stableford competition, spent an hour rueing four costly three-putts on her front nine before she was called back to the clubhouse to receive the good news.
“I had such a brilliant back nine, but all I could think about was those three-putts,” said reigning SA Girls Stroke Play champion. “It was a really nervous wait for me but I’m absolutely thrilled.”
Defending champion Shawnelle de Lange and Ria Joubert, the B-Division winner had caught the 16-year-old from Pietermaritzburg, but Fletcher won the A-Division and overall title in a count-out.
“While I was waiting, I thought how ironic it would be to beat Shawnelle, because it was her victory last year that inspired a lot of golfers to enter this year’s Sanlam Cancer Challenge,” she said.
“I lost my granny and uncle to cancer and I thought she had so much courage to enter and dedicate her victory to her younger sister, who died from Leukaemia. I hoped that if I didn’t win, that she would at least defend her title because she is inspirational.”
In the end, Fletcher snuck past 14-year-old De Lange by a mere two points.
“I’ve dreamt of playing at Sun City and it has been a real dream come true,” Fletcher said. “Everything I’ve heard about these courses is true and more. It’s been an amazing experience.
“I hope that Shawnelle and I will encourage junior golfers from all over South Africa to enter the Sanlam Cancer Challenge next year. We heard that Sanlam broke the R3-million target and it is fantastic to know that we all helped Sanlam to help the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) in the fight against cancer.”
Ferreira, meanwhile, walked off the Gary Player course with two holes to play when lightning interrupted the second round of Africa’s largest amateur charity golf competition.
During the hour-long suspension, he had a lot of time to think about his second shot and his golf ball, which was floating somewhere along the bottom of the lake next to the 17th hole.
“My playing partner, Danie du Plessis, played it safe and I was in the drink with no chance of a come back,” Ferreira explained.
“Danie was on 68 points and I was on 64, so I guess that’s why I’m a little conflicted right now. There is a part of me that is certainly chuffed with the victory but at the same time, I really feel for Danie. He was definitely on the way to win and it should have been him celebrating right now.”
Ambivalence or not, in addition to the trophies, Ferreira and Fletcher each receive an Ernie Els Experience that includes a visit to Oubaai and the Golf Hall of Fame museum, a tour of the Ernie Els Wine Estate and dinner at the Big Easy Restaurant in Stellenbosch.
“It’s an awesome first prize, so I’m certainly not going to complain about winning,” said Ferreira. “But maybe I can take Danie along as a guest. That that way we can both enjoy the experience and there will be no hard feelings.”
In other results, Christine Brinknell from Walmer Golf Club won the Women’s C-Division on 64 points, Koos van Niekerk from Koster the Mens B-Division on 34 points and Bob Baisley from Key Mouth the C-Division on 37 points.
For more information go to www.sanlamcancerchallenge.co.za.
About the Sanlam Cancer Challenge and CANSA
Sanlam and CANSA have partnered the Sanlam Cancer Challenge since 1993. CANSA’s purpose is to lead the fight against cancer in South Africa by offering a unique and integrated service to the public and all people affected by cancer. As a leading roleplayer in cancer research (more than R4.5 million spent annually), the scientific findings and knowledge gained from research are used to realign the health programmes as well as strengthen the watchdog role to the greater benefit of the public.
CANSA has more than 330 staff, 12 000 volunteers, 60 offices as well as 13 interim homes in the main cities for out-of-town cancer patients accessing treatment. CANSA runs a toll-free information service during office hours 0800 22 66 22. CANSA gives out free Cancer Coping kits in English, seSotho, isiZulu and Afrikaans. For more information, visit www.cansa.org.za or contact CANSA toll-free 0800 22 66 22 email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The purpose of the Sanlam Cancer Challenge is to raise funds and awareness annually for the fight against cancer. Close to 40 000 golfers play in more than 800 club competitions held around the country in support of CANSA’s prevention programmes and patient care services throughout the year. Visit www.sanlamcancerchallenge.co.za.