Smith primed for SA Mid-Amateur defence

ST FRANCIS, 29 November 2015 – Western Province golfer Vanessa Smith is targeting a repeat performance in the South African Women’s Mid-Amateur Championship that tees off at the magnificent St Francis Links from 2 to 4 November.

Vanessa Smith; credit BLG
Vanessa Smith; credit BLG

Smith made the most of the trip to Irene Country Club last year, showing the chasing pack her heels as she claimed an impressive nine stroke victory in a wire-to-wire performance.

The 37-year-old Milnerton Golf Club member aims to emulate Southern Cape’s Sandra Winter, who claimed back-to-back victories in the SA Women’s Mid-Amateur in 2011 and 2012.

She is counting on her links golf experience, but admits to feeling a little apprehensive ahead of her title defence.

“I am going with every intention of winning and I believe I have the game to do it, but I don’t think I will pull off another nine shot victory,” Smith said.

“I joined the family business in November last year and as a result have been kept really busy. I try to play all the club and league events on weekends, but I just haven’t had the time to compete in a lot of tournaments.”

“I took a lot of confidence from a tie for 11th at the Sanlam SA Women’s Stroke Play Championship at Glendower and a respectable seventh in the Southern Cape Championship in August.

I’ve never been to St Francis Links, so I’ve asked around and everyone says it’s tough, it’s tight and filled with trouble. My sources tell me that the approach shot is key to scoring, so I’ll take a really good look at the greens during my practice round and work from there.”

Smith could be in for tough competition from Winter and former champion Sonja Bland, as well as Boland’s Lynne Behagg, who won the Southern Cape Mid-Amateur Championship title in June and anchored the Boland team in the recent SA Women’s Inter-Provincial.

Adele Beytell from Gauteng North and Desiree Geldenhuys from Southern Cape, who also featured prominently in the national team championship at Centurion Country Club, could also present a challenge.

Bland, who won the 2013 edition at Graceland and took third in last year’s event, took an early look at the course and feels right at home at the Jack Nicklaus-designed layout.

“Its typical links design that shares a lot of features with The Links, like rolling fairways, big greens and elevation changes,” said the Fancourt golfer.

“It is extremely tight and any wayward shots will be punished. When the wind gets up, there is danger on every hole. I think you have to accept that you will make a big number at some point on this course and stay patient. The person with the most patience and the hottest putter will walk away the winner.” 

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of Womens Golf South Africa.

Lali Stander

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