England’s Lily May Humphreys carded a four-under-par 68 to take the first-round lead of the 54-hole Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am on Friday.
Humphreys played her round on the Outeniqua layout in the opening round at Fancourt and made four birdies without dropping a shot. She reckoned it had much to do with the fact that she, like all the pros, was partnered up with an amateur.
“It’s a nice atmosphere, quite relaxed,” said the 20-year-old Humphreys, who won the Golf Flanders Trophy Ladies European Tour Access Series in 2021 to help her earn her Ladies European Tour card for 2022.
“You’re wanting to help your amateurs, so you kind of do your best for them. My playing partner told me at the start of the round that she’s just a beginner, but Anusha [Ramraj] and I had a lot of fun. You are invested in them the whole time, and that makes it easier to get away from your own game. They are not as serious as we are; they are relaxed and just chatting, and it makes for a nice change.”
Humphreys had a lone birdie on the third on the front nine, and the other three on the homeward nine came on the 11th, 14th and 17th holes.
“The birdie on three was good,” she said. “I didn’t hit the best drive and I left myself quite far in. I hit a nice seven-iron to about 12 feet and rolled it in.
“The one on 14 was quite good too, because it was unexpected. I hit a nice drive and pitched just short of the front pin, but it picked up a lot of pace, and I had a downhill putt. I was thinking I just needed to tap it about three foot left and just hope for the best. It was a nice surprise.”
The English golfer ended the day two shots clear of Nobuhle Dlamini of eSwatini, Norway’s Michelle Forssland, and the South African duo of Zethu Myeki and Tandi McCallum.
Those four were, in turn one ahead of Moa Folke of Sweden, Anne-Lise Caudal of France, the Czech Republic’s Kristyna Napoleaova, and former champions from South Africa, Lee-Anne Pace and Nicole Garcia, who shared sixth on one under.
Humphreys is part of a big contingent of overseas players out on the Sunshine Tour for 2023, and she’s revelling in the conditions.
“I came for Sun City, and really enjoyed it,” she said. “I liked the course, and it was nice to play where I have seen the men play for so many years. And Fancourt is pretty amazing.
“I quite like Outeniqua – it’s my favourite between it and Montagu. It is quite a scorable course, but with some of the pins they’ve got out there today are tough, and the wind is up a little. You have quite a few short shots in but you’ve still got to hit them pretty well to give yourself a good chance because a lot of the pins were quite tucked. Both courses, you need to be pretty good off the tee, you need to be hitting the fairways.”
The 40 professionals play one round each on Outeniqua and Montagu ahead of the cut, and then battle it out for the final round on the challenging Montagu for the winner’s share of the R2.5-million prize fund.
A two-shot lead to take on to her second round on Montagu is a valuable asset for Humphreys.
With the field cut to the leading 20 professionals and ties, and the top 10 pro-am teams in the betterball competition, any advantage is useful.
“Montagu the holes are kind of dead straight, but the holes are not driver on every hole, and you find yourself hitting a blind shot over a little hill a few times,” Humphreys said. “You’ve got to be quite confident about knowing where the fairway is.”
Dlamini and amateur partner Shaneen Coppin topped the R100,000 Betterball leaderboard at five-under 67, but they will start their second round on the Outeniqua Course with just a slender one-shot lead.
There are seven pairs hot on their heels, and the professionals in the chasing pack feature the tournament leader Humphreys, Myeki, Forsland, Folke, Napoleaova, former champion Lejan Lewithwaite from South Africa, and Germany’s Carolin Kaufmann.