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30th July 2014 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

A quick nine with Nicole Garcia

2013SSAWMP_NicoleGarcia_SLTSouth African rookie Nicole Garcia tied for 34th at the Lalla Aicha Tour School Final Qualifying and earned Category 9b membership of the Ladies European Tour in December last year.


The 23-year-old from Ebotse Golf Estate in Ekurhuleni enjoyed a stellar start to her first season on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.


Garcia reeled in five top five finishes, including a runner-up finish in her debut at the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Houghton and finished fifth on the final Order of Merit with earnings of nearly R60,000.


It was tougher to make the weekend on the Ladies European Tour, though, but the South African got the monkey off her back in her sixth start at the Ladies German Open, presented by Marriot, this June. Her other highlight this season was qualifying for the US Women’s Open with a tie for second at the International Qualifier.



The Ladies European Tour media office chatted with Garcia during Ladies Italian Open in Perugia to find out more about South Africa's rising star.



Tell us about your experiences on the Ladies European Tour.

I have been travelling back and forward from South Africa to the different tournaments. My first one was in New Zealand. I asked for an invite and it was very good that I could play there, because you get experience. This was my first time I have been to New Zealand and I met some wonderful people there! I did not play very well in New Zealand and went to Morocco next.
So far I’ve had brilliant experiences. The first couple of months were not too good scoring wise, but I definitely learnt a lot from travelling, so that’s a good thing. I do feel like I am improving, but I am battling with scoring. Hopefully, everything will come together in the end.
I am really enjoying the whole experience. The courses have been great and the people I have met, I feel that we are a real family. The Sunshine Ladies Tour girls normally travel together, so I usually travel with Kim Williams and Maggie Yuan and some other friends.
Qualifying for the US Women’s Open was probably my highlight and playing in it, especially in my rookie year. I went there with really big eyes and enjoyed the experience. We went there the week before and watched the men playing. We know some of the South Africans like Louis Oosthuizen, and Charl Schwartzel. They taught me a couple of things, which was really nice. I learnt so much.



Who are your role models?
My role model is Ashleigh Simon, as I am a bit closer to her, but of course Lee-Anne Pace. 
I only met Lee-Anne quite recently as unfortunately we do not get much TV coverage in South Africa, so I have not seen her play much. I would say both of them are my role models, quite good in my eyes.



What part of your game you would need to improve to get better results?
My short game, definitely. If I do my stats, I am up there with my long game, but way behind with my short game. My putting average the last couple of weeks has been 35. I am getting through it. The more you do it badly, the more anxious you get and it is worse, that’s the main reason I have missed cuts. If I fix that, I can improve.
(Current stats: 32 putts average overall, 68,9 % fairways regulation and 67,9% greens in regulation).



What are your best and worst travel experiences?
My worst experience was when I woke up in one hotel and the bed was full of bed bugs and I had them all on my hair!  My best experience… mmm, there are so many….. every tournament has had its unique moments.



What are your goals this year?
My goal at the moment is to improve my putting stats. I do not want to just look at cuts, I want to be competing. I will go back to South Africa in August and I will practice at the golf club where we have the South African Women’s Open, in September. I would love to win that one.



With thanks to the Ladies European Tour.
Photo credit – Petri Oeschger