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27th April 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Off-season work helps Gorlei to lead in Standard Bank Ladies Open

JOHANNESBURG, 27 April 2023 – Cara Gorlei took advantage of work she has done in a short off season to card a five-under-par 67 on Thursday in the opening round of the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s R1.1-million Standard Bank Ladies Open at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington’s revamped West Course.

Gorlei made six birdies and dropped just a single shot as she took a one-stroke lead over former SA Women’s Open Tandi McCallum.

Big-hitting Bonita Bredenhann of Namibia is a further two shots back in a share of third on two-under-par with a trio of former Sunshine Ladies Tour champions including Lee-Anne Pace, Nicole Garcia and Casandra Alexander, already a two-time winner this season.

“We’ve had quite a break since the Investec South African Women’s Open in March, and to come back with a round like this just shows what I’ve been doing in this little off season has been working,” said Gorlei.

“It’s incredible to have the addition of this event, something like this stature, after the summer wrapped and we’re really thankful to Standard Bank for putting this together. It’s a really cool event and I hope that we can keep it up for the next couple of years.”

For Gorlei, the round came together around some changes she made at each end of her game, from the driver off the tee to the putter on the green.

“We’ve worked hard on being able to use my driver,” she said. “It sounds strange, but I used to pretty much play with just 13 clubs in my bag because I couldn’t get my driver right. So, we kind of fiddled with shafts and stuff and we found a match. I hit a lot more fairways and I am able to try and be more consistent.

“I also changed my conventional putting grip to a claw grip, and the ball has just been coming out of the middle of the putter so much better. I putted well today.”

The Milnerton golfer started her round with a birdie on the first and made two more ahead of the turn on the seventh and ninth. With gains on the 11th and 13th, a really low round looked possible, but she dropped a shot on the 15th. “I hit a really bad tee ball on eight with my three-wood, flared it out right and made a good save,” she said. “I did the same thing on 15. Found my ball, but I was well in the bush and I punched it out. I actually hit a good approach, but my par-putt just lipped out. I did well to come out of there with a five.”

She followed that dropped shot with pars on 16 and 17 and then she picked up a final birdie on the last hole.

Behind the players in third, rookie Kiera Floyd and five-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion Stacy Bregman were on one-under in a share of seventh, with local favourite Kelsey Nicholas on level-par in ninth.

Driving women’s golf development in South Africa is a primary objective of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Standard Bank Ladies Open, and no less than seven amateurs took advantage of the opportunity to build experience playing alongside the professionals this week.

Free State junior Ellandri van Heerden was impressive in her first Sunshine Ladies Tour start.

The 2023 SA Women’s Amateur finalist opened with a two-over 74 to grab a share of 13th with rookie Bronwyn Doeg and Francesca Cuturi,.

She is one shot better than reigning SA Women’s Stroke Play champion Sam Whateley from Central Gauteng, who tied for 16th with Zethu Myeki, Lenanda van der Watt and Brittney-Fay Berger.

Mpumalanga’s Nicola Schoeman signed for 77, Cara Ford shot 78, and Zane Kleynhans from Gauteng North and Charlotte Millard from Central Gauteng posted a pair of 79s. The youngest campaigner this week, 13-year-old Lourenda Steyn from Gauteng North, carded 93.

The 54-hole event wraps up on Saturday, with live coverage of the final round televised on SuperSport channel 213 between 09h00 and 13h30.