Jessica Dreesbeimdieke scorched her way around the Wild Coast Country Club on Tuesday to open up a two-shot lead on four-under 66 in the first round of the SuperSport Ladies Challenge, presented by Sun International.
The 22-year-old University of Denver graduate made her debut on the Sunshine Ladies Tour last week at the SA Women’s Masters, and her period of adjustment seems to be over as she carded a round including five birdies in difficult wind conditions.
Dreesbeimdieke eclipsed the performance of defending champion Nobuhle Dlamini of Swaziland, who shares second alongside Scotland’s Laura Murray on two-under 68.
The international domination of the leaderboard continued down to a share of fourth on one-under 69 with three-time winner Bertine Faber tied with France’s Emilie Piquot, Chloe Williams of Wales and the Scot Jane Turner.
Dreesbeimdieke, who had a solitary bogey at the par four fifth, said a strong start to the round helped her find her stride.
“I got off to a really hot start,” said Dreesbeimdieke. “I birdied the first two holes and narrowly missed a birdie on the third. My putting was definitely a lot better today than last week. That’s really what made the difference. My ball-striking has been really consistent lately.”
The psychology and social legal studies major who now lives in Florida, USA, carded eight pars and a birdie on the back nine as the wind began to howl.
“As soon as the wind came up I was just trying to keep my pars going. It was more about managing your game than doing anything crazy. Then I happened to make a birdie on 17, which felt like a hole-in-one with the wind. I aimed 40 metres right of the pin because it was a crosswind, and it finished just left of the hole. I probably made a seven-metre putt for birdie.”
The study of psychology will come in handy in the pressure situations Dreesbeimdieke will encounter in tournament golf.
“I like to think psychology helps me with golf, but then I’d have a tendency to over analyse,” she said. “It definitely helps me with coping techniques and keeping my mind in the right place – which was a challenge when I turned pro.”
Dlamini, meanwhile, went off the 10th and had a slow start to her round with two bogeys and a birdie to turn in one-over. Coming home, the three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner clicked into gear with four birdies in five holes from the third, but signed off with a bogey at the par three eighth.
“I started quite solidly, I wasn’t putting great on the front nine, but the game plan was good,” said the big-hitting Swazi golfer. “The one birdie on 12 was good. One over was still okay on the front nine, but I played much better on my second nine.
“I’m happy to be playing here again. I like the course and I’m looking forward to the rest of the tournament, I’m quite solid and consistent. Hopefully I’ll make a few more putts.”
Murray had a fantastic day on the greens, and she made sure to thank the shortest club in her bag after her solid opening round.
“I hit the ball really nicely today, but I holed quite a few putts,” said Murray. “I seemed to get the speed of the greens pretty well. I had 26 putts out there, so I was happy with that. I must have holed a 35-footer for birdie at the first hole, so that was a bonus.”
In addition to her hot putter, the Kippie Lodge Sports and Country member has a secret weapon in her armoury this week – a vital factor in Lejan Lewthwaite’s play-off victory in the SA Women’s Masters last Saturday.
“I picked up Gilbert for this week, who was on Lejan’s bag at San Lameer and he helped me quite a few times with taking the right club,” Murrary said.
GolfRSA Elite Squad player Kajal Mistry, who lost to Lewthwaite at the first extra hole at San Lameer, is not out of it, either.
The 18-year-old Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member offset three bogeys with a trio of birdies for an even-par 70 to tie for eighth with former Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Kiran Matharu from England.
First Round Scores
All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified and amateurs indicated as AMA
66 – Jessica Dreesbeimdieke (NAM)
68 – Nobuhle Dlamini (SWZ), Laura Murray (SCO)
69 – Bertine Faber, Emilie Piquot (FRA), Chloe Williams (WAL), Jane Turner (SCO)
70 – Kiran Matharu (ENG), Kajal Mistry AMA
71 – Annelie Sjoholm (SWE), Tandi Mc Callum, Stina Resen (NOR), Bonita Bredenhann (NAM)
72 – Hannah Arnold (USA), Gabrielle Macdonald (SCO), Hannah McCook (SCO), Marion Duvernay (FRA), Alana van Greuning, Maria Beautell (ESP), Melissa Eaton, Clara Pietri (SUI)
73 – Siviwe Duma, Millie Saroha (IND), Lenanda van der Watt, Brittney-Fay Berger, Shawnelle de Lange
74 – Anna Magnusson (SWE), Yolanda Duma, Kim Williams, Monique Smit, Anna Svenstrup (SWE), Chiara Contomathios, Catherine Lau, Nastja Banovec (SVN), Casandra Hall
75 – Pasqualle Coffa (NED), Rachael Goodall (ENG), Sofie Bringner (SWE), Laurette Maritz
76 – Sunelle von Molendorff, Lora Assad, Rachel Raastad (NOR), Gabriella Venter AMA, Charlotte Austwick (ENG), Dominique Jacobs, Michelle Swanepoel, Lara Weinstein
77 – Laure Sibille (FRA), Mimmi Bergman (SWE), Leslie Grandet (MAD)
78 – Kelsey Nicholas, Ivanna Samu, Sofia Ljungqvist (SWE), Lindi Coetzee
79 – Alison Muirhead AMA (SCO)
80 – Larissa Du Preez AMA
81 – Flora Peuch (FRA), Carmen Taljaard AMA
82 – Rachel Drummond (ENG)
86 – Julie Berton (FRA), Kim de Klerk AMA
90 – Louisa Tarn AMA (ENG)