Kelli Shean will be a happy girl today. Not only does she complete her Grade 12 exams, but news just in is that Shean has been awarded a full scholarship to the University of Arkansas in the USA, where she will tee up as a member of the university’s Lady Razorback Golf Team.
As of August 2007, Shean will add the title of HOG to her CV – as her team mates from Arkansas are known. With the blessing of both Ladies Golf South Africa and The Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation, Kelli will tee it up for team Arkansas along with the number one US ranked amateur golfer, Stacey Lewis.
“It’ll be a great opportunity for her, really good for Kelli,” Women’s Golf South Africa’s Vivian Horak told gsport today, “She’s be a great asset to them, Tanika van As is already there, and they’ve also got top golfer Stacey Lewis, so they’ll have a formidable team.”
Horak told gsport that foreign coaches were aware of Shean since at least last year’s ‘The Spirit’ tournament in Texas, where Shean was top SA’s contribution and three off the pace behind leader Sweden’s Pemilla Lindberg, her effort contributing to SA’s runner-up finish, two shots behind winners England.
“I think it was just the cherry on the top”, said Horak when asked if winning the World Amateur Team Champs had put Shean on the international signings radar. “There were a lot of college coaches (at the 2005 “The Spirit” tournament), and they were already seeing Kelli and Ashleigh playing wonderful golf,” said Horak. “There’s a lot of interest in our girls.”
Arkansas head coach Kelley Hester is quoted on their official website: "The University of Arkansas women’s golf team inked one of the biggest signees in program history welcoming Kelli Shean from Cape Town, South Africa, Monday. Kelli is by far the most decorated athlete out of high school that I’ve signed in my career as a head coach."
Shean was the winner of the 2005 Ernie Els tour, and since then her achievements are noteworthy, including 2006 Stokeplay titles in Western Province and KwaZulu Natal, and the 2006 Western Province Champion title.
Most recently, Shean was a pivotal member with Ashleigh Simon and Stacey Bregman in the victorious South African Ladies World Amateur Team Championships team, which was the first in 25 years to win the tournament and the Espirito Santo Trophy on home soil.
"Her international experience will help her create an immediate impact as a freshman for us next year. It’s a good day for the program, and a great next step to sign a player of Kelli’s calibre".
"Kelli is just a joy to talk to and be around." said Hester. "Her experience should give her the confidence to make a smooth transition to collegiate golf and I think she’ll quickly become on the team’s leaders".
Although Arkansas is a long way from home, it might feel a bit like home as she will be joining fellow South African golfer and Ernie Els Foundation member, Tanica Van As in Fayetteville.
2007 will see Kelli participating in all events here in South Africa, where she will defend her Western Province, KZN, Southern Cape and Gauteng titles, as well as taking part in the British Open.
With a new base in the USA, Shean will also be hoping for an invitation to the US Amateurs, apart from being available for selection to represent South Africa and Western Province.
For more info on the Razorbacks, view their official website.
View the Razorback’s press release on their signing of Kelli Shean.