South Africa’s top ranked Ivanna Samu struck a winning note just days before she departs for Wales to compete in the Girl’s British Open Amateur Championship with number two ranked Kaleigh Telfer.
The 17-year-old Ruimsig golfer notched her sixth victory this season in the Nomads Gauteng Junior Championship at the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club on Sunday. Samu carded rounds of 72 and 75 at the East Course to triumph on three-over-par 147.
She finished three strokes clear of Casandra Hall from Ebotse Golf and Country Estate and four shots ahead of local favourite Kelsey Nicholas and Chante van Zyl from Oppenheimer Park Golf Club in the Free State.
Samu and Telfer leave for Wales on Thursday. The South African pair will line up in the 144-strong field that will contest the top 64 spots for the match play stage in a 36-hole qualifier on 9 and 10 August at Royal St David’s Golf Club.
The victory on Sunday not only reinforced Samu’s position at the top of Womens Golf South Africa (WGSA) Junior Rankings, but winning so close to their departure has given Samu a welcome boost in confidence.
“Kaleigh and I are very excited to have another stab at the Girl’s British Open Amateur and we are really grateful that WGSA is giving us another opportunity to gain experience at a top international event before the World Amateur Team Championship in September,” Samu said.
“It’s great to leave on the back of a victory because the qualifying rounds can be gruelling. I remember that it was freezing cold last year at West Kilbride Golf Club in Scotland. We had to combat a fierce wind and it was pouring in the first round and the standard was also incredibly high.
“We were both over the moon and relieved that we made the match play stage, because the Girl’s British Open Amateur draws the top junior girls in the world. It was a little intimidating last year, but we have both gained a lot of experience in the 12 months. We know what to expect this year and we are excited to see how far we can progress.”
Telfer tied for fourth in the 36-hole qualifier and Samu finished in joint 30th at their debut in the 2015 event to become the first two South African juniors to reach the match play stage in five years. Telfer was knocked out by Sandra Nordaas from Norway at the 20th hole in round two, but Samu advanced and became the first South African to reach the quarter-finals.
She was also eliminated by Nordaas, who won the match at the 20th hole.
“Kaleigh and Ivanna not only became our first match play qualifiers since Lara Weinstein and Connie Chen in 2010, but they also took fifth in the Team Competition. This year they are going to Wales with a lot more experience and a bunch of victories under the belt.
“Ivanna has won six events on the local circuit, and Kaleigh has triumphed three times, including the Sanlam SA Women’s Stroke Play Championship. Since last year’s championship, both players competed in the Spirit International, they won the All-Africa Challenge Trophy with Zethu (Myeki) and they competed in the Toyota Junior Golf World Cup in Japan.
“We definitely hope they will draw on all these experiences to make the most of their time in Wales.”