Samu prevails at Gauteng North Girls Open

GNJuniorGirlsChamps_GNGUAt the start of the 2013 season, Gauteng junior Ivanna Samu was just another junior with big dreams. In two short years, though, the 16-year-old Ruimsig golfer has risen to third in the Womens Golf SA (WGSA) Senior Rankings and holds the number one spot in the Junior standings.

Samu notched five victories in 2014, including the prestigious Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Championship, and reeled in a further 10 top five finishes on the junior circuit.

However, her meteoritic rise was instigated by a runner-up finish at the Gauteng North Junior Girls’ Open Championship early in February. On Sunday, the leggy teenager came full circle when she claimed a play-off victory in the 2015 edition at Centurion Country Club.

Samu came into the event on the back of a runner-up finish in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Glendower and carried a lot of confidence into the junior championship after her successful debut on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.

She dominated early on with an opening six-under-par 67 to lead by three strokes from North West junior Michelle Swanepoel and fellow Gauteng golfer, Woo Ju Son.

Son carded a two under 71 in the final round, but Swanepoel signed for another 70 to tie Samu at six under 140 and force the championship into extra time.

Samu was nine under through 29 holes, but lost a little rhythm and tempo down the back nine, which opened the door for Swanepoel to close the gap.

“I double bogeyed the par-five and only managed a lone birdie between some more bogeys down the back nine,” said Samu, who closed with an even-par 73.

“Michelle was playing really well and it took two extra holes before I took the title. Although I won quite a few times last year, I still get very nervous when I am in contention and I’m sure that Michelle felt the same.”

Both players missed the fairway and the green on their first extra trip down the 18th and up-and-downed for par. They missed the 18th fairway again, but this time Samu got her second shot on the green for two, while Swanepoel’s approach nestled in the greenside bunker.

“Michelle duffed the first bunker shot, but she hit the second brilliantly and the ball finished all flew the second left the ball on the lip of the hole with her second try,” Samu said.

“I took the conservative option and lagged my first putt close, and tapped in for par. It was a great contest with Michelle and I really enjoyed the tussle.

“I’m really proud that I did well in my first start on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, but my priority remains the WGSA circuit. I need a lot more experience and it is good to put myself in this kind of situation, so I can learn to deal with the pressure.

“The course at Centurion was in superb condition, and I am really pleased that I used all the experience I gained playing at Glendower to keep it together and go one better this year.”

PHOTO – SA number one ranked  junior, Ivanna Samu; credit GNGU