Samu under pressure at Nomads SA Girls defence

Danielle_GNGUORKNEY, 25 June 2016 – Gauteng junior Ivanna Samu claimed a magnificent play-off at Orkney Golf Club last year, but the defending champion will have her work cut out when she kicks off her title defence in the prestigious Nomads SA Girls Championship on Sunday.

After coming up short in a three-way play-off against eventual champion Cara Gorlei and defending champion Ji Sun Kang in 2014, the 17-year-old Ruimsig golfer was pushed to the limit by promising Gauteng North golfer Danielle du Toit in last year’s edition.

“It was the second year running that I had to fight for victory in extra time, but this time I pull it through at the third extra hole,” said Samu.

“I remember the relief when it was over and the incredible excitement that followed. The Nomads SA Girls is one of the most sought-after titles on the junior circuit and I was incredibly proud to win. I am determined to defend the title, but there is every chance that we will go to extra time for a third successive year when I look at this year’s line-up.”

Samu will have to upstage a slew of top ranked juniors for the coveted title and the ultimate prize it carries – the chance to tee it up in the international Duke of York Young Champions Trophy later this year – and chief among her opponents is in-from Woo-Ju Son.

The 15-year-old from Eagle Canyon rose to the number one spot in Womens Golf South Africa’s Junior Ranking at the end of 2014 without once visiting the winner’s enclosure.

However, four victories in the first six months of 2016 has put Son firmly on Samu’s radar.

She started the season with a first provincial win at the Nomads Western Province Junior in January and reeled in trophies at the Gauteng North Junior Championship in February, the Curro SA Junior International in March and the Limpopo Championship earlier this month. Son further backed up her top spot in the standings with seven top 10 finishes, including a tie for second at the KwaZulu-Natal Championship.

Other prime contenders this year include Du Toit, rising KwaZulu-Natal star Britney-Fay Berger, who has risen to fifth in the current Junior Rankings. 2015 Nomads SA Girls Rose Bowl champion Chiara Contomathios and Casandra Hall and Caitlyn McNab from the triumphant Ekurhuleni team that lifted the Challenge Trophy at the recent 72-Hole Teams Championship.

Samu’s fellow Gauteng Ladies Golf team mates – Symone Henriques, Kajal Mistry, Eleonora Galletti and Kaiyuree Moodley have also shown great form this season.

“I can’t discount Chante van Zyl from Free State and Crystal Beukes from Boland, who both made huge strides this season,” said Samu.

“There are so many great juniors in the field this year that pose a serious threat and I am taking absolutely nothing for granted. I really want to defend the title, but it’s not going to be easy going.

“Every player in the A-Division has the same goal this week and I’ll have to bring my A-game to pull off a successful title defence. But it really is fantastic that the A-Division is so tightly contested. The young players in the other divisions look up to us and I think that it’s wonderful that we can inspire them to stay committed and to continue to improve.”

PHOTO – Danielle du Toit; credit WJGWC.