Thursday, 7 April 2011
South Africa’s former number one amateur golfer Bertine Strauss is making her comeback at the Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Golf Championship after taking time off to concentrate on her studies.
Strauss will tee it up alongside her peers at the Rustenburg Golf Club to challenge in the Stroke Play from 10-12 April and the Match Play from 13-15 April.
The petite North West golfer dominated the women’s amateur golf scene from 2006-2009 but took a lengthy break from the competitive game last year to complete her tertiary education and secure a golf scholarship in the United States.
She announced her return at the Border Match Play Championships in East London in February where she beat rising star Michaela Fletcher 4&2 in the final.
The victory vaulted her back into the top 10 on the Women’s Golf South Africa (WGSA) rankings, but Strauss doesn’t care much for the rankings. With four months to go before she has to report to the University of Texas, Strauss wants to land the big prize that has eluded her for years.
“I’ve won a lot of titles but I’ve just never been able to finish on the winning side at the Sanlam SA Amateur,” said Strauss. “I’ve had a couple of close calls in the past, but it has been one of my biggest frustrations and disappointments. Hopefully, with nothing else but golf on my mind, I can turn next week into a winning week for myself.”
Playing the most prestigious tournament on the women’s amateur calendar at home is both a blessing and a curse.
“The Sanlam SA Amateur has always been a major focus in my career and to have the championship right here on my doorstep is a great motivating factor,” said Strauss, who lives on a farm near Koster, but does all her golfing at Rustenburg Golf Club.
“Of course, the fact that everyone I know in Rustenburg and beyond is expecting me to win does add a bit of pressure.”
Strauss knows she is under threat from her contemporaries, especially the country’s number one Kim Williams and her most prominent rival this season, number two Iliska Verwey.
“Kim is coming here to defend both titles and Iliska has been phenomenal this season and they are not just going to hand over the trophies,” she said. “They are going to be tough to beat.”
Williams won the Eastern Cape Stroke Play and Border Stroke Play Championships, but it is Cradock’s Verwey that has been dominating the podium since.
In three short months, she won the KZN Stroke and Match Play titles, claimed another double at the Western Province Championships and won the Eastern Cape Match Play Championship.
Only Strauss and Alana van Greuning, who the North West Championships, have managed to stop this formidable duo.
Swaziland’s Nobuhle Dlamini and Yvette du Plessis, respective winners of the Match Play and Stroke Play titles in 2009, and last year’s losing finalist, Bonita Bredenhann of Namibia, will also be looking to recapture the glory.
Strauss never took anything for granted when she reigned supreme, and doesn’t now. “I’ve worked hard at my game ahead of the championships,” she said. “I’m ready. It takes a while to get back into the swing of things, but I’m ready. It’s going to be a great week.”