CAPE TOWN – Milnerton golfer Cara Gorlei topped a crowded leaderboard after the first day of a new Sunshine Ladies Tour season as her three-under-par round of 71 earned her a one-shot lead in the Cape Town Ladies Open on Wednesday.
Her local knowledge came into good use and Gorlei showed her intend with a flying start, opening with a birdie at Royal Cape Golf Club and notching another at the par five third.
She cancelled two bogeys with another brace of birdies, but the testing conditions on the back nine offered fewer opportunities to score. A fifth birdie on the par-five 16th edged the 25-year-old to a slim advantage over Scotland’s Rachel Taylor.
Thrilled to take the early lead, Gorlei is unlikely to get too comfortable with 36 holes to go.
Apart from Taylor on her heels, Manon Gidali from France, rookie Nadia van der Westhuizen and GolfRSA’s No 1 ranked amateur Caitlyn Macnab lurk at level-par, while a further six players assembled on one-over. Even defending champion Lee-Anne Pace, who suffered an untimely double bogey on the short 15th hole, poses a threat at two-over.
Gorlei closed the door on a stellar amateur career in 2020 after four years at the University of Arkansas. It was during this stretch that she also won the prestigious South African Women’s Amateur Championship.
She came close to a maiden win during her pro debut on the Sunshine Ladies Tour and a runner-up finish in the SA Women’s Masters helped the Capetonian to close out her rookie season ranked ninth in the Investec Order of Merit.
“Four years playing on the Arkansas Razorbacks Golf Team to convince me that I have what it takes to pursue a career in golf and making a strong start on the Sunshine Ladies Tour just further strengthened my resolve to take my game to the next level,” Gorlei said.
“I was very lucky that I didn’t have to press pause on my 2020 season due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I was able to get on an expatriate flight to the United States and I spent five months competing on the Womens All Pro Tour and the Symetra Tour. I gained so much insight and experience competing abroad and hopefully I can put it all into practice this season to get into the winner’s circle.”
Taylor, meanwhile, was pleased as punch with her first competitive round on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.
“I decided to join some of my fellow Ladies European Tour Access Series campaigners and spend some time in the sun,” said the Glaswegian. “It’s really cold back home and I don’t enjoy the cold, so I thought I’d make my first trip to South Africa and have some fun before the season kicks off in Europe. I had no idea I had done so well
“I just made three pretty standard birdies going out. You know, fairway, green, putt … nothing fancy. It was a wee bit windier coming home. I dropped a shot on the sixth, but that happens. I was just enjoying myself and looked what happened. I’m really quite pleased about that.”
Macnab, who cemented her No 1 billing with two provincial victories since defending her SA Women’s Amateur title in February, cancelled a trio of birdies with three bogeys for a level-par round, but the Serengeti golfer hopes to step it up over the next 36 holes.
“I could have been better, but I struggled a little bit with the driver,” said the 19-year-old GolfRSA Elite Squad member. “You have to hit it fairways on this course o position yourself for your shots into the green. I made a few putts and a lot of good swings, but there is definitely room for improvement.”
ROUND 1 SCORES
All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified; amateurs indicated as (a)
71 Cara Gorlei
72 Rachael Taylor SCO
74 Nadia van der Westhuizen; Caitlyn Macnab (a); Manon Gidali FRA
75 Zethu Myeki; Emie Peronnin FRA; Ivanna Samu; Florentyna Parker; Linette Holmslykke DEN; Lejan Lewthwaite
76 Christina Gloor SUI; Michaela Fletcher; Clara Pietri SUI; Stacy Bregman; Kaylah Williams (a); Lee-Anne Pace; Jane Turner SCO; Brittney-Fay Berger; Nina Pegova RUS
77 Casandra Hall; Monique Smit; Isabella van Rooyen (a); Kim Williams; Lindi Coetzee; Kristyna Napoleaova C
78 Kelsey Nicholas; Megan Streicher (a); Tandi McCallum; Tina Mazarino NOR; Cara Ford (a)
79 Victoria Monod SUI (a); Lauren Taylor; Astrid Vayson De Pradenne FRA; Shawnelle de Lange
80 Bronwyn Doeg (a); Alexandra Bonetti FRA; Pasqualle Coffa NED; Nobuhle Dlamini SWZ; Katerina Vlasinova CZE; Kim Turgut (a); Nicole van Pletsen; Odette Booysen (a)
81 Anne-Lise Caudal FRA; Justine Dreher FRA
82 Elena Moosmann SUI (a); Larissa Du Preez (a); Nicole Garcia
83 Nina Grey (a); Tara Griebenow; Jordan Rothman (a); Shani Brynard (a); Michelle Leigh
85 Cassidy Williams; Katia Shaff AT (a)
86 Siviwe Duma
87 Marle O'Reilly (a)
88 Yolanda Duma; Madeleen Grosskopf
92 Kim de Klerk (a)