With a whole host of international players in action this week, Gabrielle MacDonald and Hannah McCook are excited to get going at the Joburg Ladies Open, writes ANDRE HUISAMEN.
The Scottish duo were in action at the Serengeti Estates last week but are hoping for a more consistent performance at the impressive Soweto Country Club, starting on Wednesday.
‘We didn’t play the Joburg Ladies Open last year, and everyone raved about the event, so we planned for it this season,’ said former Scottish Women’s Amateur champion MacDonald.
‘We arrived in South Africa last week, happy to exchange snow and sub-zero temperatures for sunny skies, and all fired up for the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge, but it didn’t quite work out that way.
‘The wind blew really cold and hard, and it made a very tough par-three championship course even tougher. Of course, everyone kept telling us we must be feeling right at home. It wasn’t quite the sunny start we dreamed of, but it was a fantastic way to kick off our Sunshine Ladies Tour campaign.’
The Craigielaw golfer partnered Nicole Garcia and amateurs Daren Hanekom and Abri Kriegler to victory in the 36-hole pro-am, but remains modest about her contribution to the win.
‘I barely helped the team on day one, but I found my rhythm in the second round and I was happy to help the team with five birdies. Playing this event on the Whistle Thorn course was probably the best way for Hannah and I to start our season here in South Africa,’ said Macdonald.
‘The course was very tough, with raised greens that were very slopey. The ball travels so much further in this part of the world, so we could adjust to the altitude and hone our short-games.’
McCook and Macdonald both turned professional on the back of very successful amateur careers with Scottish Golf. They made their debut in South Africa last year but it hasn’t been an easy adaption for them.
‘We both did well on the Ladies European Tour Access Series, which definitely helped us to bridge the gap between amateur and pro golf, but unfortunately we didn’t make it at Q-School in January,’ said McCook, a former Stroke Play winner in Wales and Ireland.
‘So we will be playing another season on the LET Access Series. It’s a really great circuit, though. We have a lot of tournaments and there is the opportunity to play your way on to the Ladies European Tour on the Order of Merit.
‘We had a really great time out in South Africa last year, and because the LET Access only starts in April, we decided to come back. We’ll play the Jabra Ladies Classic next and the Investec SA Women’s Open before we head back. The Sunshine Ladies Tour is perfect for us to get the winter rust off and be competitive at the start of the 2020 season.’