Pint-sized Woo-Ju Son showed the grit, determination and endless talent of a future world-beater as she held her nerve brilliantly down the stretch to go wire-to-wire for a second successive time in the Nomads SA Girls Championship on Tuesday.
Son closed with a one-under 71 to triumph on five-under-par 71 at Orkney Golf Club.
The 17-year-old Country Club Johannesburg golfer edged out Ekurhuleni’s Caitlyn Macnab by two shots, while fellow Gauteng golfer Symone Henriques vaulted to third on 216, courtesy of an eagle-birdie finish.
Twelve months ago, South Africa’s leading junior raced to a seven-shot victory to earn herself a spot in the starting lineup of the prestigious Duke of York Young Champion Trophy in Britain.
‘I’ll be heading to Castle Stuart Golf Links in September, but I have to admit that booking the return trip was much harder work this year,’ said the smiling Son.
‘I’m extremely happy and relieved to have won. I struggled with a very cold putter in the second round. It was extremely frustrating at times and I am sure I used my entire quota of patience.
‘Caitlyn put a lot of pressure on me. She played extremely well, especially on the back nine, but the putter came to the party today and I made some clutch putts for pars to keep the lead.’
Son took the first round lead with a five-under 67 and held on to pole position with a 73 in the second round, but in-form Macnab was primed to apply some pressure.
The 17-year-old from Ekurhuleni arrived in Orkney on the back of her debut in the Toyota Junior Golf World Cup in Japan and got within a shot of Son with rounds of 73 and 68.
‘I birdied the 4th, but gave back three shots at 6th and 7th,’ said Son. ‘I hit a great drive down the 6th fairway and had 90 metres flag, so I wanted to hit a soft gap-wedge, but I hit it too well and flew the green. I couldn’t up-and-down after a poor chip.
‘At 7th, I had 130 metres to the pin. The wind was really pumping at this stage and it was right to left, so I aimed an 8-iron right of the hole to draw it in. The wind took it right off course and I finished in the water.
‘I was able to get back a shot at the par-five (9th) to turn with a one-shot lead after Caitlyn bogeyed the 7th.’
Son laid up with a 3-wood at the par-four 13th, hit her second to four metres and holed the putt for birdie. Macnab, who dropped another shot at 10th, remounted her challenge with a birdie at the par-three 14th.
‘I just played for pars to protect my lead,’ said Son. ‘Caitlyn was striking the ball really well and she was starting to get the putter going, so I didn’t want to do anything fancy. We both birdied 17th, so I knew I had a good chance of winning with a two-shot lead.
‘I had an eight-footer to win, but I hit the putt too hard and it horse-shoed out. Caitlyn missed her par putt, so I just had to tap-in for the win. It was very different to last year, but just as exciting.
‘This is a championship every junior girl in South Africa dreams of winning and I’m really proud to be a two-time champion of the most popular junior tournament in the country. I speak for everyone when I thank Nomads South Africa for sponsoring the Nomads SA Girls and for supporting junior golf for so many years.’
Cameron Seboa clinched the B-Division title with rounds of 83, 82 and 87.
The King David Mowbray junior edged out fellow Western Province golfer Jordan India Pillay by four strokes and finished six shots clear of Lucia Mhlabane from Mpumalanga.
Tara Nieuwoudt from Western Province sealed glory in the C-Division with rounds of 44 and 47. The Bellville golfer finished 10 points clear of Nicola Herbst from Boland.
Reagan Woodbridge accumulated 73 points to lift the D-Division trophy. She posted rounds of 35 and 38 to finish seven points ahead of Boland junior Anne-Isabel Scheltema. Erin Barraud from Border was third on 46 points.
211 Woo-Ju Son 67 73 71
213 Caitlyn Macnab 73 68 72
216 Symone Henriques 75 71 70
218 Kaylah Williams 75 69 74; Kiera Floyd 73 74 71
220 Jordan Rothman 73 72 75
222 Samantha Whateley 73 75 74; Kaiyuree Moodley 71 72 79
223 Catherine Lau 74 74 75
225 Kajal Mistry 76 77 72
252 Cameron Seboa 83 82 87
256 Jordan India Pillay 87 85 84
258 Lucia Mhlabane 83 92 83
259 Tebogo Lefifi 94 83 82
260 Zara Le Keur 96 79 85; Simone Ferreira 82 88 90
261 Lelanie Weber 87 85 89
264 Ashleigh Seboa 91 87 86
265 Ellandri van Heerden 87 83 95
266 Zelane Wessels 92 89 85
91 Tara Nieuwoudt 44 47
81 Nicola Herbst 45 36
77 Chloe Buss 40 37
74 Kesha Louw 32 42
67 Charlotte Phipps 38 29
65 Olebogeng Rebone Matshabela 33 32
62 Fouziah Schloss 32 30
61 Thaakirah Bickoo 30 31
55 Nelia Swanepoel 25 30
52 Erica Chen 27 25
46 Bea Breedt 20 26
42 Colleen Emilia Natorp 19 23; Kamogelo Ngoepe 19 23
73 Reagan Woodbridge 35 38
66 Anne-Isabel Scheltema 31 35
46 Erin Barraud 25 21
Photo: 2018 Nomads SA Girls champion Woo-Ju Son being handed the trophy from Nomads National Chairman Andrew Bullen, by GolfRSA.