Cara Gorlei took advantage of work she has done in a short off season to card a five-under-par 67 on Thursday in the opening round of the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s R1.1-million Standard Bank Ladies Open at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington’s revamped West Course.
She made six birdies and dropped just a single shot as she took a one-stroke lead in the 54-hole tournament over Tandi McCallum. A further two shots back in a share of third on two-under-par were Nicole Garcia, Casandra Alexander, Lee-Anne Pace and Bonita Bredenhann of Namibia.
“We’ve had quite a break now,” said Gorlei. “To come back with a round like this just shows what I’ve been doing in this little off season has been working. And to have something like this, of this stature, is amazing and we’re really thankful to Standard Bank for putting this together. It’s a really cool event and I hope that we can keep it up for the next couple of years.”
For Gorlei, the round came together around some changes she made at each end of her game, from the driver off the tee to the putter on the green. “We’ve worked hard on being able to use my driver,” she said. “I used to pretty much play with just 13 clubs in my bag because I couldn’t get my driver right. So we kind of fiddled with shafts and stuff and we found a match. I was hitting a lot more fairways and I was able to try and be more consistent.
“I also changed my conventional putting grip to a claw grip, and the ball has just been coming out of the middle of the putter so much better. I putted well today.”
She started her round with a birdie on the first, and made two more ahead of the turn on the seventh and ninth. With gains on the 11th and 13th, a really low round looked possible, but she dropped a shot on the 15th. “I hit a really bad tee ball on eight with my three-wood, flared it out right and made a good save,” she said. “And I did the same thing on 15. Found my ball but I was well in the bush and I punched it out. I actually hit a good approach and my par-putt just lipped out. I di well to come out of there with a five.”
She followed that dropped shot with pars on 16 and 17 and then she picked up a final birdie on the last hole.
Behind the players in third, Kiera Floyd and Stacy Bregman were on one-under in a share of seventh, and Kelsey Nicholas was on level-par in ninth.
The tournament continues on Friday, and the final round will be televised on SuperSport channel 213 on Saturday.