Tandi McCallum won the first Standard Bank Pro-Am Series 2023 in a play-off with Larissa du Preez on Wednesday at Cotswold Downs Golf Estate.
It was a memorable display of great golf after what was not her best start on day one. After being outside the top 10 after the first round and, in unpleasant weather conditions at the beginning and the end of the round, it showed what experience and determination can produce.
Shooting even par, Isabella van Rooyen was leading after a challenging first day with a tight top 10 on the leaderboard with KwaZulu-Natal local pro, Brittney-Fay Berger lying tied second with Kelsey Nicholas at tw-over. The greens were fast and carefully placed pin positions made this remarkable golf course a challenge for even the experienced players, testing their driving skills with cleverly placed bunkers and penalty areas adding to the challenge.
After day one it was Larissa du Preez positioned tied sixth with Kaylan Boshoff, Kim de Klerk, previous winner Nadia van der Westhuizen and former South African number one amateur Gabrielle Venter chasing the leaders.
The back nine on the final day did not disappoint with the lead changing hands numerous times and making for a thrilling finish. At the end of regulation play it was Du Preez and McCallum who managed to jointly finish one stroke clear of the rest of the field.
The resultant play-off produced the outright winner, after a remarkable second shot from McCallum which left her putting for eagle, benefiting from deciding to go big and not lay up, as du Preez did.
“Playing in the play-off I was nervous,” said Du Preez. “I was playing my game and trying to be calm. I am happy and I played well this week. The course was spectacular, I was struggling a bit with my putting, but my drives and iron shots were great, so I am really happy with my game.”
It was no easy victory, but McCullum set the target and waited in the clubhouse for the last four three balls to complete their rounds.
McCallum would have been happy if she had ended up in the top eight. “It has been a tale of two cities here,” said McCallum after her win,” because yesterday’s golf course was a bit more scorable and I did not capitalise on it. I chalked up lots of bogeys with no birdies, and at the end of the day I ended up outside of the top 10.
“Today I just had to try and shoot the best round I could, knowing that the course was going to be more difficult, with overnight rain and more rain forecasted, I just had to try and shoot as close as I could to level-par because the course is extremely difficult. Thankfully I managed to shoot one over par. The leader board kept rotating on the back nine so on the 16th hole I decided that I was not going to look anymore. I was going to try to finish as strong as I could and get into the clubhouse and see what transpired. As I watched, the girls were just dropping shots.
“Getting into the play-off was very unexpected but nevertheless I am ecstatic that I won the opening event. It’s a great way to start the season and I look forward to the rest. Next month is at Royal Cape, a course which I love, so I can’t wait to play it.”