BELA BELA, Limpopo – Cara Gorlei struck an early blow for the Sunshine Ladies Tour professionals when she won the Vodacom Origins of Golf Zebula Pro-Am, and she’ll take this confidence into the main tournament as she joins her fellow women’s professionals when they tee it up alongside their Sunshine Tour counterparts in the same tournament, for the same prize money, and for the first time in South African professional golf on Friday.
This year, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Vodacom Origins of Golf series, the top 10 available professionals on the Sunshine Ladies Tour have been invited to compete alongside the Sunshine Tour professionals for the same R2 million prize money.
Gorlei and her partner, Investec Corporate’s Manager of Network and Communications Mark Backes, finished the two-round pro-am at Zebula Country Club on 17-under-par, edging out the duos of Wynand Dingle and Azhar Suliman, Jaco van Zyl and Carel Bosman, and Robin Williams and Wade McQue by one shot.
“I’ve just come off four mixed events in Thailand a couple of weeks ago, so I have experience of the mixed format. When I heard the Sunshine Tour were including women professionals on this Vodacom Origins of Golf Series for the first time, I jumped at the chance,” Gorlei said.
“It’s been nice to see the Zebula course for the first time, to see what works here and what I’m up against. It was fun and I’m very excited about the tournament proper. It’s good to be here. It’s great for the women’s game and it helps to get our names out there. It’s really nice for this initiative to start in Women’s Month,” Gorlei said.
The 27-year-old Gorlei modestly credited her partner Backes for “carrying her” over the two pro-am days. But the 19-handicapper was blown away by his professional partner’s performance on the eve of the main 54-hole tournament.
“Cara hits the ball unbelievably well and she is so accurate. We dovetailed well, except for on the 10th when we both fell apart. I had just looked at the leaderboard after the ninth hole and we were in front, so I thought that was that after the 10th, we must just have fun for the rest of the round,” Backes said.
Gorlei’s attention is now focused on taking on the men at the highest level.
“The Sunshine Tour pros seem to be looking forward to the challenge of having more competitors in the field. They are such good ball-strikers and I’ve seen how attacking they are. Sometimes women’s golfers are a bit conservative, but playing with the men makes you want to be more aggressive to test your game.” – Michael Vlismas Media