South Africa’s Caitlyn Macnab produced the lowest round in the 36-hole strokeplay qualifier to reach the matchplay stage in the 90th Girls British Open Amateur on Wednesday alongside GolfRSA Elite Squad teammate Kajal Mistry in their championship debut at Ardglass Golf Club in Ireland.
Sweden’s Ingrid Lindblad won the qualifier on three under, but the day belonged to 16-year-old Macnab, who fired seven birdies for a superb three-under 67 at the County Down links.
For a second successive day, the Ekurhuleni junior got off to a birdie start.
She gave shots back at the 5th and 7th, but a birdie at the par-three 8th delivered a big punch of confidence, so much so that not even a double-bogey at the par-five 11th could dent in her self-assurance.
‘That birdie got a little fist-pump,’ laughed Macnab. ‘After the double-bogey at 8th in the first round, I was a little frazzled. Coming back with a birdie was the best revenge.’
Macnab had to reload at the 11th after the crosswind swept her ball in the Irish Sea.
‘We had to drive into a crosswind towards the sea. The wind got hold of my ball and dumped it out-of-bounds. I went back, hit a 3-wood down the fairway and another 3-wood from 233 metres and two-putted from a sandy lie.
‘I hit fairways and greens all day and my putter was on fire. I had seven one-putts down the back. It was a pity about the double at 11th, but it didn’t upset me at all. I had a really good rhythm and I kept it going. I executed the shots exactly as I planned them and I put it close on so many holes. Most of my putts on the back nine were inside 10 feet.’
Macnab’s 67 earned her a share of third on one over and a first-round date with local lass Leah Temple Lang, who finished on 13 over.
‘To shoot three under in those tough conditions was incredible and if I can produce that kind of golf in the matchplay I’ve got a chance. Matchplay is very different to strokeplay and depending on what happens, you have to keep adjusting your strategy,’ said the Serengeti golfer.
There was some worry in the GolfRSA camp after Mistry finished. She languished near the top 60 mark on 10 over after battling to a 77, but as the scores filtered in, the Randpark golfer rocketed to a tie for 30th.
‘We thought we had it bad with our late tee time on day one, but it was already blowing 45km/h when we started in the morning,’ said 17-year-old Mistry.
‘I just hit too many wayward drives and missed a lot of putts, especially on the front nine. I turned five over after doubles at 5th and 6th and I was really pleased with the two birdies on the back. I stuck it to a foot at 11th and chipped it to a couple of inches at 18th.’
The Crawford College matriculant has played a limited schedule this year, but she has lost none of the competitive spirit that saw her dominate the Open and Junior Rankings in 2016 and 2017.
‘I am going up against a girl from England [Martha Lewis] in the first round. I love matchplay, although I haven’t played many matches this year, but I’m rearing to go. Hopefully I can put some pressure on her early on and get past the next hurdle,’ she said.