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20th November 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Eaton bidding for home crown at SA Women’s Open

2014SAOpen_Melissa Eaton_SLTHibiscus Coast golfer Melissa Eaton is targeting a Sunshine Ladies Tour breakthrough in the 2015 South African Women’s Open at San Lameer Country Club from 29 November to 1 December.

The Port Shepstone native came close to a maiden victory twice in the Sun International Ladies Challenge and Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am last season.

“It’s going to be great to be back playing in my home tournament,” said the former Symetra Tour winner.

“This was my first event back in South Africa after so many years in the States, so it brings back great memories. It will be good to be in front of the home crowd again. I’m so pleased that we managed to convince my twin Nicola to come out of ‘retirement’ to compete, as well, and it will be all the more special for us with the family coming down.”

Eaton claimed three runner-up finishes and three top fives in her nine starts on the Sunshine Ladies Tour before she left South Africa to compete on Ladies European Tour.

“I had sporadic starts due to my ranking from Qualifying School, so I have been polishing my game on the IGT Tour over the last four weeks to get competitive for the SA Women’s Open,” Eaton said.

Having reeled in six birdies in seven holes in the final round of the seventh Race to Q-School event last week to tie for 10th, Eaton believes she is back to the kind of form that helped her to a second place ranking in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies in March.

“Everything is feeling really good at the moment and that always gives you that extra bit of confidence,” said the home favourite.

“The weather was a factor last year, but I was still disappointed to tie for 30th. My game is much better shape ahead of this year’s national championship, though. It’s not at its best yet, but at a level where I can still be competitive even when I’m struggling.

“It feels good to be able to perform even when I’m not at my best and I’m really pleased to go back to the Hibiscus Coast with some form. I would love to put my name on the trophy of our flagship event and even more so in my own back yard.”

Eaton will line up with sister Nicola and Jessica Shurety from Royal Durban, who represented KwaZulu-Natal in the South African Women’s Inter-Provincial Championship at Centurion Country Club in October.

The field is further strengthened by defending champion and 10-time international champion Lee-Anne Pace, Sunshine Ladies Tour winners Nicole Garcia, Monique Smit and Kim Williams, as well as former top ranked amateurs Nobuhle Dlamini from Swaziland, Bonita Bredenhann from Namibia and England’s Anna Scott.

Photo: Melissa Eaton will challenge in the 2015 SA Women’s Open at San Lameer Country Club on the KwaZulu-Natal’s Hibiscus Coast from 29 November to 1 December 2015; credit Justin Klusener.