South Africa’s Bertine Strauss claimed her professional breakthrough in her second start on the SunCoast Pro Golf Tour when she defeated American Allison Emrey at the fourth play-off hole at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.
The pair deadlocked at seven-under-par 209 at the end of regulation play at the Arnold Palmer Course after Strauss carded rounds of 67, 70 and 72 and Emrey answered with 70, 72 and 68.
“We played the 18th twice, then 16 and 17 in the play-off,” Strauss said.
“We both made par at 18 the first time around and the second time, I made a great up-and-down to save par and stay alive. We both parred 16. At 17, I landed my tee shot on the green, but she hit hers into the water and that left me with two putts to take the win.”
The victory was a timely one for the Koster golfer, who tied for fourth in the MHCC Tournament at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills a week earlier.
From 6-9 August, Strauss will compete in the First Stage of the LPGA Tour’s Qualifying School at the same venue and only the top 60 players and ties in the 72-hole qualifier will advance to the Second Stage.
Strauss will be among 288 hopefuls vying for a coveted spot in the field heading to the Plantation Course in Venice, Florida in October.
“It was fantastic to play the two mini-tour events at the same course as First Stage,” Strauss said.
“I got to play three rounds at each course and really got to know the courses and I did my final preparation under pressure. The play-off intensified the pressure and to come out as the winner gives me a lot of confidence for the coming challenge.”
Strauss spent the last four years in the United States on a golf scholarship at the University of Texas and graduated with a major in Psychology and minor in Business Administration in May.
During her final year with the Texas Longhorns, Strauss anchored the women’s golf team and finished the season with a 72.52 scoring average, victory in the PING/ASU Invitational and six top 10 finishes.
She made the WGCA All-America list and was named the 2015 Big 12 Player of the Year. She also made the All-Big 12 First Team and Academic All-Big 12 First Team.
Strauss joined the paid ranks after she won the US Women’s Open sectional qualifier in Colorado in May and made her pro debut alongside compatriot and LPGA Tour winner, Lee-Anne Pace at Lancaster Country Club last month.
“Playing in the US Women’s Open was fantastic,” she said. “I was disappointed to miss the cut, but the experience was amazing and it really confirmed for me that this is the journey I want to take.”