England’s Lily May Humphreys took advantage of the distractions provided by the format of the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am on Friday to card a four-under-par 68 to take the lead after the first round of the 54-hole tournament.
Humphreys played her round on the Outeniqua layout at Fancourt, in a tournament in which the 40 professionals play one round each on Outeniqua and Montagu ahead of the cut, and then battle it out for the final round on the challenging Montagu for the winner’s share of the R2.5-million prize fund. She made four birdies without dropping a shot, and she reckoned it had much to do with the fact that she, like all the pros, was partnered up with an amateur.
“It’s a nice atmosphere, quite relaxed,” said the 20-year-old Humphreys, who won the Golf Flanders Trophy Ladies European Tour Access Series in 2021 to help her earn her Ladies European Tour card for 2022. “You’re distracted by the amateurs and wanting to help them, so you kind of do your best for them and obviously you’re invested in them the whole time and it’s easier to get away from your own game. They’re not serious about golf, they’re relaxed and just chatting – it’s a nice change.”
She made one birdie on the front nine, on the third, and three on the homeward nine, on the 11th, 14th and 17th. “The birdie on three was good,” she said. “I didn’t hit the best drive and I left myself quite far in and I hit a nice seven-iron to about 12 feet.
“The one on 14 was quite good too, because it was unexpected. I had a downhill putt and I was thinking I just needed to tap it about three foot left and just hope for the best. It was a nice surprise.”
She ended the day two shots clear of Nobuhle Dlamini of eSwatini, Norway’s Michelle Forssland, and the South African duo of Zethu Myeki and Tandi McCallum. Those four were, in turn one ahead of Moa Folke of Sweden, Anne-Lise Caudal of France, the Czech Republic’s Kristyna Napoleaova, and South Africans Lee-Anne Pace and Nicole Garcia, who shared sixth on one-under.
Humphreys is part of a big contingent of overseas players out on the Sunshine Tour for 2023, and she’s revelling in the conditions. “I came for Sun City, and really enjoyed it,” she said. “I liked the course, and it was nice to play where I have seen the men play for so many years. And Fancourt is pretty amazing.
“I quite like Outeniqua – it’s my favourite between it and Montagu. It is quite a scorable course, but with some of the pins they’ve got out there today are tough, and the wind is up a little. You have quite a few short shots in but you’ve still got to hit them pretty well to give yourself a good chance because a lot of the pins were quite tucked. Both courses, you need to be pretty good off the tee, you need to be hitting the fairways.”
A two-shot lead to take on to her second round on Montagu is a valuable asset for Humphreys. With the cut to be made to 20 and ties, and to the top 10 pro-am teams in the betterball competition, any advantage is useful. “Montagu the holes are kind of dead straight but the holes are not driver on every hole, and you find yourself hitting over a little hill, maybe. You’ve got to be quite confident about knowing where the fairway is,” she said.