It has only been done five times in the modern era, but few people would bet against Ivanna Samu achieving a rare double in the Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur at Kloof Country Club from 12-15 July.
The 16-year-old has dominated the women’s golf scene for the last 18 months and underlined her supremacy with five victories this season, including the Sanlam SA Women’s Stroke Play Championship in April and the Nomads SA Girl’s Championship last month.
Samu instigated a meteoric rise to the summit with a fistful of top five finishes in 2013 and boosted her systematic hike to the number one spot in women’s golf by claiming six titles across the junior and senior circuits last year. It was her outstanding performance in the 2014 Sanlam South African Women’s Amateur Championship, however, that embedded the Roodepoort teenager firmly on the South African golfing radar.
Just 15 at the time, Samu showed nerves of steel and maturity beyond her years to defeat Texas State University player Lora Assad 2 & 1 in the final at Ruimsig Country Club to lift one of SA’s golf flagship titles.
A mere eight months later, the leggy blonde stole the march on the field at Glendower Golf Club to add the Sanlam SA Amateur Women’s Stroke Play title, etching her name in the history books as one of a handful of players to own the coveted ‘double’.
Now she hopes to follow in the footsteps of Tanica van As, Ashleigh Simon and Kim Williams, who lifted Women’s Golf South Africa’s two flagship titles in one calendar year.
Van As claimed the rare feat in 2003, Simon did it twice in 2006 and 2007 and Williams joined the exclusive league in 2010.
“One of my major goals this season is to defend my title in the Sanlam SA Amateur Championship, but it will be tough to accomplish,” Samu said.
“As we saw during the Sunshine Ladies Tour, the Sanlam SA Women’s Stroke Play and the Nomads SA Girl’s Championship, the standard of women’s amateur golf is incredibly high at the moment.
“I believe anyone of 20 players can win on any given day, because the depth of talent is incredible, especially in the junior ranks.
“I’ve been working extremely hard with my coach Graeme Francis, because I will need to be very strong mentally to pull this off. In stroke play, you can always come back from a bad start, but in match play format, you don’t have that luxury.
“One bad hole could be the end of your campaign, so you have to be at the top of your game.”
Only a handful of players have pulled off back-to-back victories in this prestigious international championship in the modern era.
Wendy Warrington did it twice in 1985/1986 and 1998/1999, Gilly Tebbutt doubled up in 1990 and 1991, Mandy Adamson in 1992 and 1993 and Ashleigh Simon in 2006 and 2007.
“It would be a dream come true to add my name to theirs, and it is not impossible,” Samu said.
“I am definitely going all out this year. Hopefully we are blessed with good weather, because Kloof is a very challenging course without any wind and should present a fantastic test for all of us.”
Sanlam Sponsorship Manager Gary van Loggerenberg said the company is very proud of its association with Women’s Golf South Africa and its role in the development of South Africa’s emerging talent.
“We strive to provide an enduring platform for our country’s rising stars through our sponsorship of Women’s Golf South Africa’s two flagship events,” Van Loggerenberg said.
“The popularity and support that these two events receive is a positive reflection of Sanlam’s long-term sponsorship of the game and our investment in the youth.
“We are extremely proud of our long association with Women’s Golf South Africa through the Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Stroke Play and Sanlam SA Amateur Championships and its past and future champions.”