England’s Rebecca Hudson and Steffi Kirchmayr of Germany set the clubhouse target with matching first rounds of three under par 69 in fair conditions at the Cell C South African Women’s Open on Thursday morning, before torrential rain and unplayable conditions at San Lameer Country Club caused the suspension of play at 2.45pm.
No further play was possible on Thursday and at 4pm, Ladies European Tour Tournament Director Michael Wood announced that first round play would resume at 6.30am local time on Friday, followed by the second round from 8.30am.
“Given the information that I have been presented with, the plan of action is that we are going to suspend play for today and given the condition of the fairways and the bunkers especially, it would take the guys considerable time to get them back in play,” Wood said.
A total of 10mm of rain fell on the course during Wednesday’s pre-tournament Pro-Am and a further 20mm fell over Thursday afternoon, continuing into the evening.
Midway through the first round, Hudson and Kirchmayr hold a one stroke lead over four other players: Spain’s Patricia Sanz Barrio, Fabienne In-Albon of Switzerland, Valentine Derrey from France and Ann-Kathrin Lindner from Germany.
England’s Charley Hull and Beth Allen of the United States are tied for the lead on three under par after ten and nine holes respectively.
South Africans Connie Chen, Lee-Anne Pace and amateur Kaleigh Telfer are a stroke off the lead alongside Austrian Christine Wolf and Lydia Hall of Wales on two under par and still to complete their first rounds.
Last year’s SA Women’s Open, at nearby Southbroom Golf Course, was scheduled to be played over three rounds but was also hit by rain and then reduced to 18 holes due to unplayable conditions. This year’s tournament has been moved from April (autumn) to October (spring) and is scheduled to be played over four rounds, with increased prize money of €320,000.
The weather forecast is for strong winds on Friday, easing slightly on Saturday with warm and sunny conditions for the weekend.
First round leader quotes:
Rebecca Hudson 69 (-3)
(Winner of 2006 SA Women’s Open at Durban GC and 2008 WPGA Masters at Park View GC)
An excellent start.
I played okay. I haven’t played well these last couple of weeks so I didn’t come here with high expectations. I just had a swing thought, played the shots I wanted and made a few nice putts so it was a great way to start.
How was it playing out there?
We enjoyed our 6.30 tee time. The first nine holes were lovely. The wind is picking up now which made a few of the holes quite tough. The 18th island green was very tough and so I was very lucky with the tee time. The course is nice and the greens are running smooth so that’s all you can ask for.
How are you in the wind?
We are all used to it. We prefer playing in nice conditions with lots of sun and nice weather. It’s not about fighting it, it’s about going out there and fingers crossed they’ve got the forecast wrong. Today’s today, I’ve done well and I’m in the right position so I’ll try to put good swings on tomorrow.
You’ve got happy memories of South Africa.
I won the SA Open and they have a mini tour, the Sunshine Ladies Tour and it’s a great little start for the season. In 2006 I won there and I also won at Park View in Jo’burg. They have wonderful golf courses in South Africa. It’s nice to be in this area on the Hibiscus Coast and I have very good memories.
What were the highlights of your round?
I birdied hole-three and made a 15 foot putt so that was quite nice. I bogeyed seven which is a very tough par four. I just put it in the greenside bunker and didn’t get up and down. I birdied nine, down the hill, hit a seven iron to about ten feet. Coming in, I birdied 12, which was only an eight footer. That is a tough hole. It’s okay if you get a good drive away but other than that it’s a tough driving hole. I bogeyed 15, because that’s straight back into the wind. In the practice round I hit wedge in and today I hit rescue in, so the wind makes a big difference. I’ve just birdied 17 and 18, which is a nice way to finish. 17 was a six footer and 18 was a 15 footer. I’ve missed as much as I’ve holed but I’ve given myself chances.
Steffi Kirchmayr 69 (-3)
98th on OOM
Summarise your round.
I’m happy. It didn’t feel that special, it was just shot to shot and I had a three-putt on the second from short distance and then a couple of saves on six and seven from awkward spots so that got my round started and I had a lot of birdie chances from hole eight until the end and made a lot of putts for birdie then.
When did you last lead at an LET tournament?
This year in Czech Republic and two years ago in Holland.
Do you feel comfortable in this position?
Yes. It’s the lead after one round, so it’s more about getting ready for tomorrow and trying to shoot three under or less again.
What is your goal?
To play well because I need some money to keep my card. I think I put too much pressure on myself the last few weeks so I didn’t score well. This week is more about having fun and if it works, it works. I know I have some pressure but I’m a little more relaxed.
Patricia Sanz 70 (-2)
You said you had a lot of adrenaline in your blood this morning.
Yes, my life was boring after yesterday. No, it was just my goal to have fun. The last couple of events I have been struggling to enjoy myself on the course so I just wanted to give myself a chance and focus on every shot and have fun.
What were the highlights?
I birdied the first hole, I hit it a little right of the fairway but then close to eight feet, more or less. I had a couple of birdie opportunities that I missed and then a couple of bogeys and I finished birdie, birdie, par, so that was good.
I think I hit nine fairways and 15 greens. I made some 12, 15 footers so that gave me confidence on the putting green.
How was the course playing?
The conditions were absolutely perfect: We were expecting rain and wind but we had sunshine all morning and a little wind for the last five holes but that was it.
Fabienne In-Albon 70 (-2)
126th on OOM
It was quite a solid round today. I hit 14 fairways and 17 greens so I think my game was just on but I did miss a lot of birdie opportunities in the beginning. In the end it was a solid round and shows me that there is still room for improvement.
I knocked it to tap-in distance on 13. That was a great birdie and the first one of the day so that got me into the game.
I was feeling confident with my swing, timing was good and I didn’t miss a couple of shots so driver was good, irons were good and I’m very happy.
What is your mindset?
I just take it shot by shot and day by day. I set myself the goal to focus on each shot at a time and not really look ahead at what just happened, especially the situation we are in now. We are getting towards the end of the season and there is a lot of pressure, you want to make it into the top 80 and so I said, just take it shot by shot and focus on that instead of thinking about what could happen: staying in the now.
What makes this event special?
There are a lot of things. First of all, you’ve got a lot of animals running around the course. Then you’ve got the impalas, monkeys… so you always have to make sure you close the pockets on your bag so they don’t steal anything out of your golf bag.
Valentine Derrey 70 (-2)
What were the highlights of your round?
The back nine, I shot three under, so I made the turn at one over. I was one under before nine and had a double on nine, the par 3, and hit it in the water, so then three birdies on the back nine. I played good golf: 16 greens, 29 putts, so pretty good.
What do you find different about SA?
It’s the second time I’ve played here and you can’t really say anything about last year. We only played one round of golf and just the country. It’s my third time in South Africa and I like the country, it’s just different.
It’s a really nice golf course and the last hole could be a tough hole for Sunday, but I like it.