US College Golf Ciruit Gives Strauss Winning Grit

Ekurhuleni 54-Hole Stroke Play winner Bertine Strauss receives her trophy from Warren Brits, junior vice-president of Eastern’s Nomads, after scoring a come-from-behind 3-shot win. Photo: Jax Mackenzie.

Former SA number one Bertine Strauss proved she is still a force to be reckoned with when she came from behind to steal victory in the Ekurhuleni 54-Hole Stroke Play Championship at Benoni on Monday.

The 21-year-old from Koster in the North West Province dominated the local amateur scene for many years, until she took up a golf scholarship at the University of Texas in August 2011, and during her summer break home, the psychology student just couldn’t resist the temptation to test herself against South Africa’s top-ranked amateurs.

“I like to stay competitive, even when I’m on a break, and this tournament just really got the juices flowing again before I fly back to the United States to start my third year,” Strauss said.

Strauss signalled her intentions with an opening 73 at the Ebotse Links, to trail pacesetter Kim Williams by one shot, and stayed within one of the South African number two, with another 73 in the second round.

However, while Williams battled to an 80 in the frosty conditions and high winds that greeted the field in Monday’s final round, Strauss closed with a three-over-par 75 to win by three shots on five-over-par 221.

Lara Weinstein, fresh from a sixth place finish at the RB German Junior, snuck past Williams to finish in second with rounds of 76-72-76.

Strauss has kept her spot on the Womens Golf South Africa Elite Squad by playing in events when home from college in the last two years, and once again enjoyed the experience despite the tough scoring conditions.

“I played the Ebotse Links once before and remembered it as a challenging course, but the cold weather really made it tough on us, especially into the wind on Monday. It was easily a two to three club wind.”

Strauss said that during both rounds on Sunday she hit a driver at the par-four 16th and had 65 meters left to the pin. “On Monday, I hit driver, three-wood and just reached the front edge. When the ground is hard already and the wind blows, control and patience are key to this course.”

The petite North West golfer was thrilled to see how much her mental game has improved, too. “I was three down after a bogey at the second and double-bogey at the third and two years ago, that would have been the tournament for me,” she said.

“Playing the college circuit, I have learned to tough it out. Now I don’t give up. I grind my way around the course and try to pick up a few birdies to give myself a fighting chance. And that’s what I did on Monday.”

Strauss remedied the situation with three birdies before the turn and dropped two shots coming home. “I was really not playing to my potential, but it was good to see that even when I’m rusty, I can still be competitive,” she said.

“That’s why I want to encourage the juniors to think about college golf before they turn pro. The experience you gain from playing the college circuit is invaluable.”

Adele Beytell carded rounds of 93-83-86 to win the B-Division for handicaps 10-18 with a total of 262, while Teagan Lubbe beat Naledi Qubu in a count-out on 62 points to win the C-Division for handicaps 19-36.


(With editing by gsport)


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