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21st February 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Eaton tames wind in George

2015DDPA_MelissaEaton_SLTKwaZulu-Natal’s Melissa Eaton produced a magnificent round at a rain-soaked Oubaai Golf Resort and Spa in George to set herself up for her first Sunshine Ladies Tour victory on Sunday.

The Port Shepstone golfer carved out a quite unbelievable two-under-par 70 in the howling wind and driving rain to lead the first round of the R200,000 Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am by two strokes from two-time champion Stacy Bregman.

As a three-club South-Westerly wind howled into the players’ faces and claimed many shots at the Ernie Els-designed layout on the Southern Cape coast, Eaton put on a shot-making master class from start to soggy finish to surge through the field and into the lead.

“This was definitely one of the best rounds I have had in a long time,” Eaton said.

“It was all about shot making out there and that’s how I learned to play the game on the coast. I played a lot in weather like this at college in the United States and on the Symetra Tour.

“It always seems that the tougher the weather, the better I play.”

Eaton started with three straight pars into the wind and reeled in back-to-back birdies at the fourth and fifth to set the tone for the day. A third gain at the par-five seventh took her to the turn in three-under.

Conditions worsened on the wide open planes of the back nine, but Eaton continued to construct a superb round.

Although she surrendered strokes at the 10th and 14th holes, the KwaZulu-Natal golfer knocked in a three-foot putt for another birdie at the par-five 12th and finished her round with four straight pars.

“Two under par was no easy achievement in the conditions, but I love playing in the wind,” Eaton said.

“Conditions like this always brings out the best in my game. I love playing knock down shots and punching a hole in the wind with low shots. I felt really good out there; actually, I was having fun, to the great amusement of my frozen playing partners.”

Ladies European Tour campaigner Bregman had plenty to be pleased about, too.

The Johannesburg professional had a birdie and bogey a-piece on the front nine and a brace of birdies on the back nine to offset two drops.

Bregman defeated Eaton by one stroke for the Sun International Ladies Challenge title a fortnight ago and is relishing the rematch at the Outeniqua course at Fancourt on Sunday.

“I think it’s going to be great fun to go toe-to-toe with Melissa again,” Bregman said.

“We had a great match play contest going on over the back nine at the Lost City Golf Course and she was a great opponent. To shoot 70 in the conditions out there today was fantastic, but hopefully Mother Nature doesn’t dish out more of the same on Sunday.”

Kim Williams, a Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies winner last year, carded a one-over-par 71 to finish three off the pace, while England’s Lucy Williams finished a further stroke adrift.

Three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion Ashleigh Simon, the runner-up last year, tied on 75 with Iliska Verwey and Namibian golfer, Bonita Bredenhann.

Defending champion Monique Smit left herself with a lot of work to do after an opening 80.

The Southern Cape favourite is tied for 18th alongside fellow professionals Chevonne Botha, Nobuhle Dlamini from Swaziland, England’s Kirsty Fisher and leading amateur Bianca Theron from the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation.

PHOTO – Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am leader, Melissa Eaton from KwaZulu-Natal; credit Luke Walker/Gallo Images/Sunshine Tour.