In what should have been a memorable final amateur season, Monja Richards – by her own admission – has been a shadow of her former self over the last couple of months of the 2014. Gone was the signature smile and the happy-go-lucky girl. Richards was suddenly beating herself up like she never had before.
The affable Mpumalanga amateur hit the winner’s circle in April, and after successfully defending her Limpopo Championship title this June, Richards is once again smiling like a Cheshire cat.
“I was glum and out of sorts,” she explained. “I began working with Gavan Levenson, and we immediately addressed my snap hook. I generally hit with a draw, but we began working on a cut.
“I was so scared of any shot going left, though, I just couldn’t get aggressive out there. Mentally, you know it’s an ongoing process and you know that you are working towards something that will take time and effort.
“But when your game and confidence desert you, you begin questioning everything and the results have a negative impact on your personality.”
Everything changed when Richards lifted the Free State & Northern Cape Championship. “I was so thrilled to get back into the winner’s circle,” the 26-year-old Nelspruit golfer said.
“This is probably my last year as an amateur, and my two goals this season were to make the teams for the All-Africa Challenge Trophy All-Africa, and the World Amateur Team Championship.
“I was really disappointed when I didn’t make the All-Africa team, but my game simply wasn’t up to scratch. So it was great to get back to my winning ways.
“Defending my title at the Limpopo Champs win has just given me more confidence.” Richards carded rounds of 76, 76 and 78 to beat Lara Weinstein by one shot.
“Lara is on a break from America, where she has been playing college golf. She was one of our top amateurs before she left and she has been exposed to a lot more international experience,” Richards said. “It meant a lot to me that I was able to beat her under difficult circumstances.
“We had great weather in the first two rounds, but the greens were extremely hard and had no bite. It was hard to stop the ball. The wind blew hard in the final round, making things even more challenging.
“I was actually disappointed with my scores, because I thought they were too high. Everyone struggled, though. In the end, all that matters is the win.”
The victory boosted Richards to fourth in the Womens Golf South Africa Senior Rankings.
Weinstein carded rounds of 74, 77 and 80 to finish on 231 and retain a top 10 rankings, while North West Championship winner, Mae Cornforth from Potchefstroom, moved to joint sixth in the rankings with a third place finish on 233.
Reigning Sanlam SA Amateur Stroke Play champion Carrie Park protected her number one ranking with a fourth place finish on 239.
Cara Ford carded rounds of 93 and 86 for a total of 179 to win the B-Division by six shots from Adel Beytel, while Lynette Smith scored 57 points with rounds of 27 and 30 to defeat Tanya Motk for the C-Division title.
Limpopo Championship A-Division Top 10: 230 Monja Richards 76 76 78 231 Lara Weinstein 74 77 80 233 Mae Cornforth 78 77 78 239 Carrie Park 80 78 81 240 Lora Assad 81 78 81 244 Carmia van Wyk 83 82 79 246 Ivanna Samu 84 81 81 247 Kaleigh Telfer 86 82 79 249 Lejan Lewthwaite 84 84 81 250 Shawnelle de Lange 79 84 87 250 Izel Pieters 89 83 78
Photo caption: Following a shaky season, the affable Monja Richards worked hard to hit the winners’ circle again, defending her Limpopo Championship title to boost herself to fourth in the Womens Golf South Africa Senior Rankings. Photo: Dale Boyce
(With editing by gsport)