It's a first professional victory for South African Cara Gorlei as she claims the Jabra Ladies Open at Glendower Golf Club

Report by Sunshine Ladies Tour

Your first professional win is always a momentous occasion, and even for someone who has achieved as much as Cara Gorlei has, it was a special day at Glendower Golf Club on Friday as she claimed the Jabra Ladies Classic title for her maiden triumph.

In the four years that Gorlei has been a pro, she had racked up 11 top-10 finishes and earned more than R600 000 in prize money and has also qualified for the Ladies European Tour, before sealing the deal and getting her hands on the trophy by a stroke at Glendower on Friday.

Gorlei was lying second, two shots behind at the start of the final round, and she kept herself in the conversation throughout, even as Stacy Bregman, Moa Folke, Gabriella Cowley and Lisa Pettersson all made a charge, while overnight leader Maiken Bing Paulsen also stayed in contention.

A bogey at the par-three sixth meant the 28-year-old Gorlei was level-par for her round. But she immediately followed that up with birdies on the seventh and eighth holes. Others faltered as Gorlei reached the turn and the pressure of the situation brought out the best in the Capetonian as she was inspired on the back nine. Three birdies in four holes from the 11th put her in front and she reached the last hole with a two-shot lead, making her bogey on the 18th all the more palatable.

She still posted her third successive 68 to finish on 12-under-par, one ahead of Pettersson, who shot an outstanding 67 to finish on 11-under-par.

Focussing hard to secure the win

“I was trying not to think about the lead, until the 11th, when I started to get a bit nervous. My first win started to play on my mind a little bit and then on 13 I saw on a leaderboard that Lisa Pettersson was right up there with me,” Gorlei said.

“But it just made me focus harder because I realised it was not done yet. I knew I was playing well enough and I just stuck to my routines. Obviously, it’s awesome to get the win done and I am really happy that I stayed level-headed.

“I’ve been in two play-offs and lost them both, so it was nice to get the monkey off my back without having to go to another play-off. I have my first pro win and now I can start going,” Gorlei beamed.

In a sign of her mental maturity, Gorlei realised that she may not have had her A-game with her on Friday, so she settled into a prudent approach.

“Different parts of my game showed up at different times. At times my putting really saved me, down the stretch my irons were pretty solid, but they weren’t on the front nine. So it was a little bit of everything that came together,” Gorlei said.

LET players in the chasing pack

While Pettersson’s 67 was bogey-free as she charged up the leaderboard from four shots off the pace, the other contenders made costly errors.

Folke reached the turn in four-under and was leading, but three bogeys in a row from the 11th meant her challenge faded and the Swede finished fourth on nine-under-par after a 69.

Bregman also went through the front nine in 32, but bogeys on the par-four 11th and par-three 14th saw her fall four strokes short in a tie for fifth on eight-under.

Paulsen, who led after the first and second rounds, was level-par on Friday through eight holes, but she then dropped four strokes to also finish on eight-under, alongside Bregman and Nina Pegova (69).

Cowley was five-under through 13 holes, but then a bogey at the par-five 15th saw her end in third place on 10-under-par.

Next week it's the Joburg Ladies Open which is co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour.