Cara Gorlei carded a five-over-par 77 in the first round of the Cape Town Ladies Open in the toughest windy conditions imaginable at Atlantic Beach Golf Links.
With the wind constantly blowing at 40km/h, and gusting up to 72km/h, there was no place to hide as not a single player was able to go better than three over for the day. Two did: Mireia Prad of Spain and Norway’s Dorthea Forbrigd led the way with a pair of 76s. Gorlei and four others shared third, two shots off the lead.
“I made a quadruple-bogey on the par-three 8th,” said Gorlei, “so to be only one over in total for the rest of my round is actually pretty good. In fact, I came home in one-under 35 on the back nine, and I don’t think anyone else managed that, so I’ve got something positive to take with me for the remainder of the tournament.”
With similar wind forecast for the remaining 36 holes, Gorlei is going to need all the positivity she can muster.
“I was three over after three holes this morning, and I said to my caddie, who is a local here, that five over was going to be a good score,” she said. “He agreed!”
With all Gorlei’s experience at Milnerton Golf Club just up the coast from Atlantic Beach, she said she had never faced such tough conditions.
“I reckon it was up to a six-club wind sometimes,” she said. “You could pick a club into the wind, hit it low, and the wind would still take it. You could try and hit down on it, and it would just balloon up and away.”
And while Gorlei was beaten down by the wind, rookie professional Kiera Floyd was much more phlegmatic about things.
She carded a six-over 78 and was in a share of eighth place.
“I wasn’t too bothered by the wind, to be honest,” said the 19-year-old former SA Women’s Stroke Play champion. “I made two doubles, and had a couple of three-putts, and I didn’t feel as if the wind forced me into those mistakes.
“The wind is really something I’ve had to deal with a lot in my career so far, and I didn’t let it get to me today. It’s tough, don’t get me wrong, but it’s the same for everyone, and I like to look at it as a challenge, rather than as a threat.”
Gorlei finished alongside Gabrielle Macdonald from Scotland, Germany’s Sarina Smidt, Hayley Davis from England and Pasqualle Coffa from the Netherlands.
Floyd shared eighth with four other players, and, together with Gorlei and Lindi Coetzee, was one of only three South Africans in the top 10.
The Sunshine Ladies Tour Order of Merit leader after the first two events, Lily May Humphreys from England, also had a battle on her hands, although her eight-over-par 80 put her in a share of 18th. And an experienced player like Tandi McCallum slumped to a 17-over-par 89 amongst the carnage wrought by the south-easter.
For Gorlei, however, it has to be get up and go again for the remaining two rounds.
“I’m not saying I like it,” she said, “but I know what I’ll be going out in, and I know that I have tools to deal with it, based on my closing nine.”