Chiara Contomathios demonstrated maturity well beyond her years to hold off South Africa’s number one ranked Ivanna Samu for a one stroke victory in the Nomads SA Girl’s Rose Bowl Championship at Paarl Golf Club on Tuesday.
The 15-year-old Modderfontein player stuck to a well-laid game plan down the back nine of the Old Course to triumph on five-over-par 221 after closing with a two-under-par 74.
Contomathios showed early promise when she won the B-Division at the Sanlam SA Women’s Stroke Play at Umhlali Country Club at the age of 12. But she never expected to wait so long to break into the winner’s circle again.
“I am absolutely over the moon,” said the delighted Gauteng teenager. “This is something I have been trying to achieve for a very long time. This is a really big item ticked on my bucket list.
“I’m so thrilled that my dad (Manny) was here to share this with me. He has walked so many miles with me since my first big win at Umhlali.
“To my mom (Kim), who is always so unbelievably supportive, my coach Gavan Levenson and Ladies Golf Gauteng - this one is for you, too!”
Samu was the tournament favourite after victories in the Gauteng North Junior Girls’ Open Championship and North West Championship and, not surprisingly, the reigning Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur champion led on one-over-par 145 through 36 holes after rounds of 73 and 72.
Samu carried a two stroke lead into the final round over Contomathios, but lost her advantage immediately with a double-bogey start.
She birdied the second, but dropped three successive shots before her second birdie at the par-five sixth and turned five over after another bogey at the eighth.
Contomathios, who shot rounds of 74 and 73, opened with four straight pars, bogeyed the par-four fifth and double-bogeyed the par-three seventh.
A hallelujah putt from 25 feet for birdie at the par-five ninth saw her join Samu in the lead.
“I pulled my approach at the fifth and had to hit a downhill chip,” Contomathios said. “I ran it three meters past the hole and missed the return and had a tap-in putt for bogey.
“At the seventh, I left my tee shot short, overshot the green and walked off with a double bogey. I thought that was it for me, but the birdie gave me some great momentum.
“I pitched the ball just in front of the flag, but it raced straight past and left me with a monster putt. I turned away after the putt and I only realised the ball had dropped when people started cheering.”
Contomathios parred her way home, while Samu dropped further shots at 10 and 14.
“I had a one shot lead after the 10th, so I just aimed for the centre of the green on every hole,” said Contomathios. “After 14, I had a two shot lead, but Ivanna never stops fighting, so I couldn’t afford to relax. I just focussed on making pars.
“Ivanna hits it a mile and she was on the green for two at the 18th. I was on for three and I tried to lag it close, but I still had a tricky left-to-right putt from one-and-a-half meters for par. When Ivanna made birdie, I knew I had to make the putt to avoid a play-off.
“One thing I learned on the Sunshine Ladies Tour from watching the pros was how they focus completely on the shot at hand. I just cleared my mind, lined up the putt and made the shot.”
The pace and rhythm was perfect and Contomathios was crowned the champion.
Elsune Roode from KwaZulu-Natal won the Silver Division for 10-18 handicaps by 10 strokes from Western Province’s Kaylah Williams. Roode carded rounds of 79, 80 and 85 to finish on 28 over.
Local player Andrea van Dyk won the Bronze Division for 19-25 handicaps with 80 points. She finished nine points ahead of Naeemah Adams from Western Province.
Nikita Bosser from Western Province triumphed in the Coper Division for 26-32 Handicaps on a winning total of 66 points. Bosser carded rounds of 30 and 36 for a nine point victory over fellow Province player, Kristen Basson.
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of Womens Golf South Africa.