Kajal Mistry from Bryanston put an exclamation point on a successful 2016 season by moving into the top spot in Women’s Golf South Africa’s Senior Rankings on Sunday.
The 16-year-old Randpark golfer celebrated a hat-trick of wins this season with a two-shot margin in the Mpumalanga Open and Closed Championship at Middelburg Country Club.
Mistry returned rounds of 72, 70 and 73 to triumph on one-under-par 215. She was the only player to complete the event with a sub-par score and she finished two shots clear of Zethu Myeki from Border and Gauteng North’s Danielle du Toit.
Before her maiden provincial breakthrough in the Ekurhuleni Championship in early September, Mistry launched a steady rise in the rankings with a fistful of top-10 finishes, including second places in the WGSA 72-hole Teams and the ProShop Gauteng 36-hole Stroke Play Championships.
She added the Boland Championship title to her winning tally in late September and came into the final event with successive top-five finishes in the SA Inter-Provincial Individual Stroke Play and the Ackerman Championship.
The Gauteng teenager has done a lot of work this season on perfecting her accuracy off the tee and into the green with her coach of 12 years, Darren Witter.
Mistry was delighted when the hours on the range at the Martin Whitcher Golf School at Randpark Golf Club paid off with her first two victories, but believes that her third win was down to the confidence she brought back from India.
‘I was disappointed with my first round, but as the conditions became more familiar, I kept on improving,’ said Mistry, who tied for fifth in the Girls 15-17 age category in her international debut at the recent Albatross International Golf Championship.
‘The championship highlighted some areas that need work, but it was an awesome experience and I was delighted to tie for fifth against international competitors. The opportunity to play abroad definitely gave me more confidence going into the Mpumalanga Open.
‘I must admit that it came as a shock to me that I moved into the number-one spot. That was an unexpected bonus and I suppose I couldn’t have finished the season on a higher note.
‘I had a fantastic tournament, but the highlight of the tournament wasn’t my win; it was watching Danielle (du Toit) hole her second shot at the 18th for an eagle in the first round. It was a terrific shot and I am in awe of Danielle’s talent.
‘I’m very grateful to many people who supported me this year. Ladies Golf Gauteng, the Gauteng Supporters Club, my parents and my coach all brought me to this point. I want to specifically thank Kaleigh (Telfer) for her leadership and guidance. Her support this year has been phenomenal and we will really miss her at Gauteng.’
The reigning SA Women’s Stroke Play champion ruled the senior rankings for most of the season, but Telfer relinquished the top spot to Mistry when she could do no better than an eighth place finish in Mpumalanga.
‘This was the perfect ending to Kajal’s season and I couldn’t be happier for her,’ said Telfer, who will be taking up a golf scholarship at Auburn University in Alabama next August.
‘I know how incredibly hard she has worked for this. She has come so far and she is only 16. She is getting better all the time and I think Kajal will be a real force next season.’
Meanwhile Zane Naude won the Closed Championship and also picked up the Junior Closed title. The Bankenveld Golf Estate player beat Senior Closed champion Rose Powell by four shots on a winning score of 160.
Cleo Jordaan from Akasia claimed a seven stroke victory on 162 in the Silver Division (h/c 10-18), while Krugersdorp’s Rika van der Post edged out Wilma van Rensburg to win the Bronze Division (h/c 19-24) on 202. Anna Nekhalale from Irene Country Club won the Copper Division (h/c 25-36) title with a six point victory over Eunice Visagie and Karien Greyvenstein.
By Lali Stander
215 Kajal Mistry (Randpark GC) 72 70 73
217 Zethu Myeki (East London GC) 75 72 70
217 Danielle du Toit (Pretoria CC) 73 69 75
218 Woo-Ju Son (CC Johannesburg) 76 72 70