Skarpnord is back to defend her SA Women’s title

2014-10-14 00:00

THIS year hasn’t been a particularly good year for Norway’s Marianne Skarpnord, but she’s known for her positive attitude, steely determination and desire to succeed.

These are all qualities that will hold her in good stead when she looks to defend her Cell C SA Women’s Open crown at San Lameer Country Club this week.

“It’s a strange feeling getting ready to travel to South Africa to defend my title knowing that I haven’t played very well this year. I don’t feel like I’m under any extra pressure as the reigning champion. Obviously I want to put in a good performance, but I don’t have any massive expectations,” she said.

Added to her challenges in KZN will be the fact that Skarp­nord is heading to unfamiliar territory because she has not played at San Lameer before.

She remembers vividly the 2013 South Africa Women’s Open for various reasons.

“It was certainly one of the strangest tournaments I’ve competed in. The weather was so brutal, but we were always hopeful that we would be able to play more than just one round. When we received the message that no further play was possible and that the winner would be declared based on the first-round scores, I was shocked. I was happy that I won, but it didn’t feel real, it took me a few hours to realise what had happened.”

The 2013 SA Women’s Open will long be remembered as one of the wettest and shortest international golf tournaments in South Africa. Skarpnord’s first-round score of three under par was good enough to be declared the winner, with a seven-way tie for second consisting of South Africans Ashleigh Simon and Stacy Bregman, Minea Blomqvist (Finland), Charley Hull (England), Camilla Lennarth (Sweden), Katie Burnett (U.S.) and Nina Holleder (Germany).

“That wasn’t the way I wanted to win, but I’m glad I did because it gives me a bit more confidence, excitement and positivity about playing in South Africa again. And my caddy, Brian Shezi, will be with me again which makes it even more exciting.”

Skarpnord expects South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace to deliver an impressive performance.

“Lee-Anne is one of my favourite players and I think she will be right up there challenging for the title this year.”

Among an impressive list of confirmed entrants are Simon, Bregman, Cheyenne Woods, Maha Haddioui, Sharmilla Nicolett and Paula Reto.

South Africa’s oldest women’s tournament tees off at 6.45 am and 11.15 am on the first and 10th tees respectively on Thursday. The field comprises a maximum of 126 players, 10 of whom will be amateurs.

Entry is free and there will also be free parking at San Lameer for spectators.

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