Ekurheleni’s Nicole Garcia has undoubtedly played the best golf of her career this season and will be taking her form to two prestigious British amateur championships when she departs for the United Kingdom on Monday.
Garcia will tee it up in the English Womens Amateur Stroke Play at Mannings Heath Golf Club in Sussex from 6-8 August and the Ladies British Open Amateur Stroke Play at Prestwick Golf Club from 21-23 August.
The 22-year-old Ebotse golfer explained that the trip is designed to gain much needed experience before she embarks on golf’s most gruelling test – qualifying school.
“I will be going to the Ladies European Tour Q-School later this year,” she said. “Thanks to Womens Golf South Africa, I have the chance to compete against top international amateurs in two of the toughest amateur championships and I hope to learn a lot from this experience.”
Womens Golf South Africa offered the country’s three leading senior amateurs – Kim Williams, Lara Weinstein and Garcia – financial assistance to further their careers.
“They left it up to us to choose what would benefit us the most,” Garcia said. “I’m not sure what Kim and Lara will choose to do, but I knew straightaway what I wanted to do. It’s still a few months before Q-School and I wanted to get experience in conditions I am not familiar with.”
Garcia has enjoyed a solid season, highlighted by back-to-back victories in the Gauteng 54-Hole Championship and the Free State & Northern Cape Championship in May. She also won the Gauteng North Womens Open Championship Stroke Play Qualifier at Centurion Country Club in July.
However, coming unstuck at the Sanlam SA Womens Amateur Match Play decided Garcia mind.
“I thought I had done well to reach the semi-final, but when the wind really came up, I was my own worst enemy,” she said. “In retrospect, I chose the wrong clubs, attacked the wrong holes and cost myself a spot in the final. Although my coach, Doug Wood, and I worked hard on shaping shots before the Match Play, I still let myself down with course management.
“I’ll be going to the British Open first to watch the first two rounds. I hope to learn a lot from watching the professionals in action the Old Course at St Andrews and to take that knowledge with me when I compete in the two British amateur championships.”
Garcia said that she has no expectations other than gaining experience.
“I went to the LET Q-School and caddied for Iliska Verwey,” she explained. “I saw first-hand what the pressure of Q-School can do, and it was a real eye-opener for me. The pressure and stress of Q-School is something you really can’t describe. There were a lot of top amateurs that just folded under that pressure.
“I need more experience at international level, I need more experience in coastal and windy conditions and I need to see what areas of my game needs improvement before I go to Q-School.
“That is what this trip is all about for me and thanks to Womens Golf South Africa, I have this amazing opportunity. Between the two events I will try to play some more links courses. I am determined to get the most out of this trip to give myself every chance of gaining a card for the Ladies European Tour next year.”