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Fletcher fires early warning at Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur

10 Jul 2016

KwaZulu-Natal’s Michaela Fletcher won Sunday’s 36-hole seeding round for this week’s Sanlam South African Women’s Amateur Championship at the Ebotse Links on Sunday. Credit: Michael Vlismas.

The experience gained from playing college golf in the United States was clear to see as Michaela Fletcher managed her game and a tender back to win Sunday’s 36-hole stroke play seeding round for this week’s Sanlam South African Women’s Amateur at the Ebotse Links.

Fletcher’s total of four under par following respective rounds of 70 earned her a two-stroke victory over last year’s losing finalist and South African number one Ivanna Samu.

The main match play championship is played from Monday to Wednesday.

Fletcher is back competing on local fairways amidst what has been a great learning experience for her with the University of Memphis’s Tigers golf team where she very quickly made a name for herself with some standout performances before a back injury halted her progress.

“I was off for 15 weeks. I was told not to walk excessively, literally just to class and back. It was really tough to come back from that. It’s just so nice to be back on the golf course and enjoying competitive golf again,” she said.

Ebotse can be an unforgiving layout and Fletcher certainly felt the physical effort of her 36 holes on Sunday.

“It’s a risk and reward golf course, but if you hit it offline there is some long grass out there and your ball is gone for sure. My back has been doing a lot better but today was tough to get through. My back was killing me after nine holes. If I hit a good swing it doesn’t hurt as bad. But back pain goes hand-in-hand with a golfer so it’s just how you manage it, and I’ve learned how to do that really well now.”

After a round of level par in the morning, Samu looked a lot more comfortable in her afternoon round of two under.

“This golf course is a challenge. It’s a tough course where fitness is important. I had two practice rounds but still made a few silly mistakes, but I brought it back nicely with the second 18,” she said.

Monday’s match play will require a new focus, and it’s one Fletcher feels she is well equipped for.

“College golf really narrows your focus. Weekly you’re playing very competitive golf which means you constantly have to be at your best. Par is often not good enough and you have to fire at pins. You can’t just be happy with fairway, green and two-putt the whole way around. It gives you that competitive edge.”

Zethu Myeki, the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation golfer who has been something of a revelation with her improvement this season as she’s climbed to a ranking of third in the country, finished third on one over par.

Kaleigh Telfer, winner of the Sanlam South African Women’s Stroke Play Championship earlier this year and hunting the double this week, will be glad to see the back of the seeding round. After a morning round of 82 she recovered somewhat with an afternoon’s 71.

Written and released by Michael Vlismas on behalf of Sanlam.

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