Becky Brewerton will go in search of her first Ladies European Tour title in 13 years when she tees it up in the final round of Investec South African Women’s Open with a commanding five-shot lead on Saturday.
The championship layout at Steenberg Golf Club had seemed scorable in the light wind and rain during the opening round, but the high winds and firmer greens made it a different proposition over the last two days.
Brewerton fired a flawless six-under-par 66 in the second round to open up a four-shot lead and while most of the players in the 66-strong field treaded water or back-peddled in the gusting winds on moving day, the two-time Solheim Cup star was in a league of her own once again.
With conditions getting even tougher in the afternoon for the leading players, Brewerton executed her trusty punch shot in the four-club wind to near-perfection, manufacturing 16 pars for a 74 to finish at five-under.
On a day when Spain’s Paz Marfa Sans was the only player to break par with a two-under 70, Brewerton was – unsurprisingly – pleased as punch with her pace-setting performance.
“I’m probably as pleased with today’s effort as I was with yesterday’s, which is quite weird to say considering there was an eight-shot difference in my score,” the 36-year-old said.
“It was brutal out there and I think it was just a day where everyone knew you were going to make mistakes and be in difficult positions, but you just had to try and minimise it.
“I utilised the punch shot very well again, but it was exhausting. The best thing I did was to not try and brace against it but just go with it and hit the punch shot and keep the swing as smooth as possible.
“The most difficult thing was putting, especially if you’re going across the breeze, because if you had the break going one way and the wind going the other. It was quite hard to work out which one was going to have the most effect. Some putts were a bit hit-and-hope and they paid off the majority of the time.”
Norway’s Maiken Bing Paulsen emerged as the closest challenger, a 73 leaving her alone in second at level-par.
England’s Felicity Johnson (75) and Emma Grechi from France (72) tied for third on one-over, with South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace a further shot adrift in joint fourth. The four-time winner also returned a 74 to share fourth with Frenchwoman Lucie Malchirand (73), last year’s runner-up Leonie Harm from Germany (75) and first round leader Magdalena Simmermacher from Argentina (77).
Pace, the reigning Investec South African Women’s Champion, was pleased with her day’s efforts and is looking forward to another testing day tomorrow.
“It was about a four-club wind and you didn’t know if you’re going into it sometimes or if it’s off the side, so it was a very tough day,” she said.
“Some tees were moved up, but it was still playing long because of the wind. It was tough, but I quite enjoyed it because you have to hit some creative shots and keep it low, and that’s my sort of golf. I think I got a bit unlucky out there today, but otherwise I’m happy with my score.
“I believe I’m still in it. I’m managing myself a lot better; I’m not getting as frustrated anymore, and if a few more putts drop tomorrow it could be interesting.”
Marfa Sans, courtesy of her low round of the day, vaulted to joint ninth and will start the final day alongside South Africa’s Casandra Alexander, who signed for 75, Tiia Koivisto from Finland (74), Norwegian Madelene Stavnar, reigning Investec Order of Merit leader Linn Grant from Sweden and amateur Kiera Floyd at four-under.
Floyd, the reigning SA Women’s Stroke Play champion, negated four bogeys in her level par round to pull ahead in the battle for the leading amateur glory. Fellow GolfRSA National Squad members Megan Streicher (76) and Gabbi Venter (77) are three and six shots adrift, respectively.