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31st January 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Rookies relish Sunshine Ladies Tour debut at Sun City

SUN CITY, 31 January 2023 – Kiera Floyd, the 2022 South African Women’s Stroke Play champion, will make her professional debut on Wednesday in the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s SuperSport Ladies Challenge at Gary Player Country Club at Sun City.

Floyd is one of two promising young amateurs stepping up to the paid ranks at the tournament, with former GolfRSA No 1 Gabbi Venter also making her first professional start.

Both have played in previous Sunshine Ladies Tour events as amateurs, so they know what to expect. “It’s not really that different, but it’s definitely a lot tougher competing against the pros, because they are out there doing it for a living,” said Floyd. “It definitely had a positive effect on my game. I raised my standards, and it helped me to change my attitude and mental approach to the game. Watching the pros keep calm taught me a big lesson.”

Venter, too, is looking forward to getting her professional career underway.  “I’m very excited about making my pro debut,” said the 2022 St Andrews Junior Girls Open champion. “In some ways, it’s like any other tournament, but the truth is that it’s the start of something exciting and it’s about my career. That makes it important as well as a little intimidating.”

Without defending champion Paula Reto in the field, the new pros will still have a stiff challenge on their hands, with five-time Investec South African Women’s Open champion Lee-Anne Pace in the field. There are also proven winners like Nicole Garcia, Monique Smit, Casandra Alexander, Tandi McCallum and Stacy Bregman amongst others all entered.

And there is the additional stern test offered by the Gary Player Country Club layout.

For Venter, however, there are memories of one of her great amateur victories in the 2022 Nomads SA Girls Championship on the course. Having tied fellow GolfRSA National Squad member Samantha Whateley in regulation play, she hit one of the greatest approaches into the iconic ninth to make eagle on the renowned par-five to lift the flagship title at the first play-off hole.

“I had 174 metres to the green,” she recalled. “It was a blind shot because the pin was on the left behind the trees, but I felt confident about it. I flushed it and I started running. I could hear the people shouting and I saw the ball bounce right next to the flag.”

She plotted her way to that victory by plotting her way around the long course, rather than trying to bomb it out there. “I like that you have to plan ahead, and not just use driver on every hole,” she said. “That said, they’re putting us quite far back all over the course this week, so it will be interesting.”

Floyd, on the other hand, is relishing the thought of taking on the distance head-on. “I like the course. It suits me as a long hitter,” she said.

She is also keeping her feet firmly on the ground as she starts her professional career. “I’m not looking too far ahead,” she said. “I want to take the opportunities offered on this tour and go step by step to build myself a career as a professional.”

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