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25th February 2016 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Dlamini holds the aces at Sun City

2016 Sun International Ladies Challenge: Day 2Rookies Bertine Strauss and Lejan Lewthwaite both launched an assault in round two of the Sun International Ladies Challenge, but the pair couldn’t shake overnight leader Nobuhle Dlamini at the Gary Player Country Club on Thursday.

The big-hitting Swazi pro stayed on track to claim a maiden Sunshine Ladies Tour victory at Sun City with a three-under-par 69 and she will start the final round at seven-under-par 137.

Strauss barged into second with a blistering five under 67 and finished four strokes off the pace, while Lewthwaite closed with a two under 70 to take third spot on the leaderboard at one under.

The Benoni rookie actually got within two shots of Dlamini with five birdies on the front nine, but spoiled her charge with a trio of bogeys over the closing holes.

Dlamini’s approach play was superb for a second day running.

“I just played one shot at a time,” said the 24-year-old Els Club Copperleaf player, who picked up half-a-dozen birdies at two, nine, 10, 14, 16 and 17 to erase bogeys at six, 12 and 18.

“I stayed in the moment and I didn’t get ahead of myself. It was important to stay focussed, because the pressure was on from Bertine and Lejan.

“It is very nice to have a gap for the start of the final round. I am pretty confident at the moment because I am striking the ball really well and the putter is hot, too. I know the swing is there when I trust it and just let it go. That will be very important in the final round.”

Strauss showed no signs of the jetlag that plagued her in the first round as she burst from the blocks with a hat-trick of birdies.

She negated a lone bogey at eight with a birdie at the par five 10th and chipped in from 60 feet at the final hole to finish with back-to-back gains.

“That was a much better effort,” smiled Strauss, who claimed a tie for 24th in the Australian Women’s Open at the weekend and only arrived back in the country in time to start the penultimate counting event in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies.

“I’m well down in 19th place in the points standing and I need to finish in the top three this week and next week to have any hope of making the top 10 for Millvale. I was disappointed with my start, but I felt as if I was 10 steps behind myself all day.

“I felt a lot fresher this morning and I managed to attack the course – and Nobby’s lead – immediately. Today’s round was more up to my usual standard. I missed just a few greens and fairways, but it was solid.”

Strauss left the driver in the bag and relied on her trusty three-wood to get around the 5 800 metre layout.

“I hit my three wood nearly as far as the driver, so I used it well,” she said. “The birdies at one and 17 were about 12 feet, but the rest were all inside three feet. I was a little frustrated with the putter, though. It could have been a 64 or 63, because a lot of my putts burned the edges. Hopefully the short stick warms up on Friday and I can give Nobby a run for her money.”

PHOTO – Nobuhle Dlamini; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

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