FORMER Nomads SA Girls champion Michaela Fletcher defeated Potchefstroom’s Mae Cornforth for the Eastern Province Match Play title yesterday. The 18-year-old Pietermaritzburg amateur thumped Cornforth 3 and 2 in the final round at Port Elizabeth Golf Club.
By her own admission, Fletcher was not at her sharpest in the Stroke Play Championship, and shot rounds of 79 and 75 to tie for 12th and finish 12 shots behind winner Magda Kruger.
However, the KwaZulu-Natal amateur put her growing talent on display in the match play.
After eliminating Eastern Province hopeful Tara Griebenow 3 and 2 in the first round, Fletcher got past Western Province number one, Ji Sun Kang, in 4 and 2 and walloped another local player, Minette Olivier, 5 and 4 to reach the final.
Meanwhile, Cornforth, who defeated Kruger for the Boland Championship Match Play title in October, cruised past Boland’s young Crystal Cooper in round one. She had a tougher time getting past the experienced Jacqui Ackers from Central Gauteng, who took the match to the 18th before Cornforth won 1-up.
Cornforth came up against Imkeleen Meyer in the semifinal, but the local favourite from Port Elizabeth Golf Club went down 3 and 2.
Fletcher described the final as a battle of wills.
“It was a very tightly contested fight between Mae and I,” she said. “We both played really well and I think the fact the match served up 11 birdies and an eagle illustrates how badly we both wanted to win.”
Like EP Stroke Play champion Kruger, Fletcher put her golf on the back burner to concentrate on her studies and her leaving certificate. She was thrilled to be back on the podium so early in the season.
“It’s great to get back into the winners’ circle again, especially after I put so much energy into my studies last year and neglected the golf a bit,” Fletcher said.
“I didn’t play so well in the stroke play, so it was nice to redeem myself in the match play. And what an awesome to start my season, to already have a victory to my name.”