SUNSHINE Ladies Tour rookie, Kim William yesterday set pace at inaugural Zambia Ladies Open Championship in Ndola when she grabbed a one stroke overnight lead in the opening round of the event where R78,500 (about K45,530) is at stake for the eventual winner.
As the South African was leading the way on the par-73 picturesque Ndola Golf course, Zambia’s top amateur, Melissa Nawa could only tie for 10th with three others on six-over-par 79.
Williams took charge of the tournament with a three-under-par 70 but can hardly afford to relax as two European Ladies Tour campaigners, Stacy Bregman and Tandi von Ruben are in hot pursuit.
The Pretoria’s Tuks Golf Academy golfer has Bregman hot on her heels after the Johannesburg professional overcame a disastrous front nine with three pairs of birdies on the home stretch for a 71.
Von Ruben closed with a one-under-par 72, while two-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion Monique Smit lurks at even-par and Swazi rookie Nobuhle Dlamini is just four off the pace.
Williams claimed her maiden professional title at the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Houghton in February and is definitely in the market for a second title.
“I’m shooting to win this week. I’ve figured out this course and the key is to play percentage golf. You have to keep it in play and take advantage of the placing rule to put yourself as close as possible to the pins.
“If you venture off the fairway, you’re looking at a bogey. I hit one bad tee shot at the 13th, landed behind a tree, punched out and ended up taking a five. The greens are tricky, so you need to stick it close to make birdies. If you are hitting it offline, you’re just penalising yourself,” the 27-year-old, who after mixing 13 pars with a birdie at the sixth, a bogey at 13 and a string of three birdies from the 14th, said. Bregman, who was runners-up in the Reekays/Plascon Pro Am, dropped four shots over the first 10 holes before her tee shots started finding their mark. (From Page 32)
“I just hit so many bad shots. I don’t know why exactly, but nothing was working. But when I boxed a short putt at the 11th for birdie and another at the 12th, my round suddenly just gained momentum,” Bregman said.
The 27-year-old Johannesburg professional hit her stride with two more birdies at the 14th and 15th and reeled in another pair at the closing holes.
Von Ruben pulled two clear with birdies at the first and fifth, but lost the advantage with a double-bogey at the par-four seventh.
She wedged a bogey between birdies at the 10th and 12th, but then the birdie well ran dry.
Nicole Garcia, who on Thursday bagged the Reekays/Plascon Pro Am, ended her day one campaign on two-over-par 75.
Meanwhile it was a day of mixed fortunes for Zimbabwean amateur Yolande Mubaiwa, who partnered Williams and Bregman.
Although she limped home in 92 strokes, the three-handicapper was upbeat and full of smiles in the post-round interview.
“I was absolutely terrified and instead of calming down as the round progressed, I just became more nervous,” Mubaiwa admitted.
Mubaiwa said she will take a lot away from the experience.
“Stacy and Kim were incredible and I learned so much from watching both of them. I know I will have to work much harder with my irons and on my putting, because that is what let me down today.”
And Nawa was the best-placed local player with a five-over, tying for 10th with Namibian professional, Bonita Bredenhann, Maggie Yuan of Australia and South African Alana van Greuning.
Another Zambian prodigy, Kaela Mulenga was a further four strokes away on 10-over-par 83 with Nawa’s younger sister, Celistine (Tina) finishing her first round on 11-over where she tied with South African professionals, Nicole Becker and Francesca Cuturi.
Seasoned local campaigner, Lorna Mwenda could only afford 19-over-par 92 with compatriots, Tara Allin on 21-over and Miliase Siame, a further stroke back anchoring the leader board.
Times of Zambia