SECUNDA (6 November 2013) – Southern Cape golfer Sonja Bland ensured her trip to Mpumalanga would be an unforgettable one as she shrugged off the final day pressure from overnight co-leader Sheryl Matthews to lift the South African Mid-Amateur Championship title on Wednesday.
Bland closed with a five-over-par 77 at the Graceland Hotel, Casino and Country Club to win the championship division on 20-over-par 236.
Matthews from Randpark was tied for the lead going into the final round and had the upper hand through 16 holes, but the glory went Bland’s way when she finished birdie-par while Matthews closed with back-to-back bogeys.
The victory caps a solid season for Bland and she was thrilled with the outcome.
“Wow, I am so excited, because I really wanted to win this national title,” gushed Bland. “I worked hard ahead of the championship, and it is always great when you can reap the reward.”
The George golfer’s esteemed husband, professional golfer and multiple international winner John Bland, was equally proud.
“I am so proud of Sonja,” said Bland. “She really wanted to win a national title and she worked extremely hard. It was obviously great for me, because I had some peace and quiet. But I am really thrilled for her; she went to Mpumalanga with a goal and she returns with the trophy.”
Bland hit the ball well throughout the championship, but struggled to find pace on the greens. After the second round, she spent more than hour on the putting green but thought the hard work was for nought when she opened with three successive bogeys.
“Sheryl started with two drops and a birdie, and I thought that was my tournament, but then I made a great birdie putt at the fourth and that just settled me down,” said Bland.
She played the rest of the front nine to par, followed back-to-back bogeys at 10 and 11 with two pars, and dropped two more shots at the 14th and 15th.
“We both parred the 16th and I knew I need two great holes to win,” Bland I knew three holes to clinch it and if I could just limit the mistakes and get the putter going over those final holes, I could win,” said Bland. “I’ve felt all week that the course owed me and finally it paid up. I made a good par at the 16th and holed a monster five-meter putt for birdie at the 17th.
“Sheryl and I went down 18 tied for the lead, but I managed to land a great second and two-putted for the win. She played extremely well and she put a lot of pressure on me, and I’m really proud that I kept my composure.”
Mpumalanga’s Patrizia Lombard overtook joint overnight leaders Rene Matthee and Louise van Niekerk to win the B-Division title by three shots on a winning total of 45-over-par 261.
Lombard began the final round two shots behind Border’s Van Niekerk and Matthee from Ekurhuleni, but managed to sneak into first with a closing 83. Mattee carded an 88 for a share of second with Linda Jordaan from North West, who closed with an 85.
In the C-Division, Karen Gird doubled her overnight four shot lead to clinch the title by eight points from fellow North West golfer, Carol Paxton.
Gird’s rounds of 32-34-32 gave her a total of 98 points and an eight shot victory over Paxton, who scored 29 points to finish in sole second. Christa Prinsloo from Mpumalanga took third on.