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8th July 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Strauss debuts in US Women’s Open

2015 Bertine Strauss_SLTFormer top SA amateur Bertine Strauss will make her professional debut in the US Women’s Open alongside South Africa’s top export Lee-Anne Pace at Lancaster Country Club in Pennsylvania on Thursday.

The 70th US Women’s Open drew a record 1,873 entries and Strauss was among the hundreds of hopefuls who had to pre-qualify at 25 sites around the world for a coveted spot in the 156-strong field lining up in the season’s third Major.

The Koster fired a flawless first round 70 and notched six birdies for a 68 in the second round to win the sectional qualifier at Riverdale Dunes Golf Course in Brighton, Colorado in May.

Strauss recently graduated from the University of Texas with a major in Psychology and minor in Business Administration.

During her final year with the Texas Longhorns, she anchored the women’s golf team and finished the season 72.52 scoring average, six top 10 finishes, victory in the PING/ASU Invitational in April and a host of other accolades.

Strauss made the WGCA All-America list and her other highlights included 2015 Big 12 Player of the Year, All Big 12 First Team and Academic All-Big 12 First Team.

“I can’t wait to get started,” said Strauss, who will line up alongside Americans Jennifer Coleman and amateur Mariel Galdiano in the first round.

“I have Kate Holden, our assistant coach at the University of Texas, on my bag this week and we’ve had some really good practice rounds. I’m really looking forward to this experience.”

World number 59 Pace is equally eager to get going.

“I really like this golf course and it suits my game,” the 36-year-old Pearl Valley golfer said.

“It is quite hilly and you have to be accurate off the tee. I’m hitting my irons and driver really well and I have my coach James Petts with me this week. I feel like everything is coming together nicely and I can’t wait to get started on Thursday.

“The atmosphere here this week has been amazing and it’s very exciting. We’ve had fantastic crowds for the practice rounds and they are expecting more than 100,000 spectators to come out over the next four days.”

The multiple international champion tied for 69th in the Ana Inspiration at Rancho Mirage in California in April and joint 60th in the season’s second Major, the KPMG PGA Championship, at Westchester Country Club in New York last month.

Her best finish in the US Women’s Open was a tie for 43rd at Pinehurst Number two last year.

Pace will have American Austin Ernst and Yoonkyung Heo from Korea for company in the first two rounds.

Since 1991, only Annika Sorenstam and Karrie Webb successfully defended their US Women’s Open titles and 2014 champion Michelle Wie could have a tough task to add her name to that list.

Wie, who has been struggling with a hip injry, will have the likes of world number one Inbee Park, the remarkable world number two Lydia Ko and number three Stacy Lewis to contend with.

Park, a two-time champion, claimed her third successive title this season with her sixth Major victory in New York.

Seven-time Major winner Webb returns for a 20th consecutive time, while Dame Laura Davies celebrates her 27th appearance in the US Women’s Open.

The 70th edition will be played at the par 70 Old Course at Lancaster Country Club, which measures 6,406 yards (5.486 meters).

PHOTO – Bertine Strauss; credit Les Rule