SA women golfers to defend All Africa Challenge title

6 June 2014

Magda Kruger, Michaela Fletcher and Cara Gorlei will line up for South Africa as the country defends the prestigious All-Africa Challenge Trophy (AACT) at Muthaiga Golf Club in Nairobi, Kenya from 10 to 12 June.

The prestigious biennial event is supported by the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews (R&A) and this year marks the first time that the AACT will also carry World Amateur Golf ranking points.

Domination

South Africa has dominated the winner’s circle since the inception of the championship in 1992, winning every year with the exception of 1996, when Egypt lifted the title at the Ikoyi Golf Club in Nigeria.

Pretoria’s Kruger is ranked second and Fletcher, from Pietermaritzburg, is third on the current Women’s Golf South Africa (WGSA) senior rankings, while Gorlei, from Milnerton, ranks second on the junior and sixth in the senior standings.

‘Strongest possible team’

“I believe we have chosen the strongest team possible to drive our title defence in Kenya,” WGSA President Karen Olivant, who will accompany the team to Nairobi, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Magda, Michaela and Cara have all claimed individual victories this season and they are quite determined to uphold South Africa’s proud tradition in the event.

“However, the AACT brings together the best amateur golfers throughout Africa and the team will definitely face some stiff competition.”

The AACT has enjoyed consistent growth since it launched with 12 countries represented at the first event.

17 countries

This year’s edition has drawn entries from 17 countries, with the South African trio set to line up against the host nation and teams from Botswana, Cameroon, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Kenya will be hoping for a home victory from Naomi Wafula, the current Africa Junior champion and Kenya’s amateur stroke play champion, Josephine Ainley and Christina Engell Anderson.

The Zimbabwean team will be anchored by the experienced Loice Chingono, and Zambia is sending the formidable Dawa sisters, Melissa and Tina, who performed well against Kruger and Fletcher during the Zambia Ladies Open at the Ndola Golf Club in March.

‘Unknown entities’

“We know very little about the northern Africa countries, because we seldom compete against them,” Olivant said. “Quite often, it is the unknown entities that throw up the surprises.

“It is a popular tournament, because most of the African nations don’t get the chance to travel to Europe or America often due to budget constraints.

“The tournament offers the top players the chance to compete at international level and gain some much-needed competitive experience. The teams always show great enthusiasm throughout the tournament and the standard of golf has definitely improved in the last couple of editions of the AACT.”

The format will be similar to the World Amateur Team Championship with the best two scores per round to count towards the daily team score in the 54-hole stroke play format.

SAinfo reporter