13th September 2016 | IGT Challenge Tour
Lewthwaite lights up Ebotse
(PHOTO – Lejan Lewthwaite; credit CJ du Plooy)
BENONI, 13 September 2016 – Rookie Lejan Lewthwaite fired nine birdies to press home a two shot advantage in the second round of the IGT Tour’s Ebotse Links Challenge on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old from Benoni wrapped up the low round honours with a five-under-par 67 at Ebotse Links Golf and Country Club that moved her into pole position at seven under 137.
Lewthwaite began the second round in a three-way tie for second and one stroke behind overnight pacesetter Ockie Strydom, who is stalking trophy number 13 on the country’s premier development Tour.
Although she dropped shots at the third and fourth, Lewthwaite outgunned Strydom with a flurry of five birdies from six to 10 and countered bogeys at 14 and 15 with another brace of birdies at the closing holes.
Meanwhile Strydom slipped to second with a 70, while 15-year-old Ekurhuleni junior Jayden Schaper closed with a 71 to finish a further two shots back.
Lewthwaite graduated Texas State University last year and finished her amateur career with a runner-up finish in the SA Women’s Open in December.
She joined the pro ranks in her second start on the Sunshine Ladies Tour in January and, when the season wrapped up in March, she joined fellow campaigners Carrie Park, Nobuhle Dlamini, Nicole Garcia, Francesca Cuturi, Michelle Leigh and others on the IGT Tour to fine-tune her game for the 2016 Ladies European Tour Qualifying School in December.
In addition to a runner-up finish in the Houghton Open in May, Lewthwaite blew into contention in the Lake Club Challenge last week and signed off with her fourth top 10 finish in 12 starts.
She was pleased to a strong performance at her home course with another solid showing at Ebotse.
“It’s really great to be in contention two weeks in a row,” said the Wanna Be A Champion player. “I’m out here to learn to handle pressure situations and it doesn’t get much tougher than this.
“I played with two Sunshine Tour pros – Breyten Meyer and Heinrich Bruiners – and that also brought unknown pressure and it all adds up to make me stronger mentally and better prepared.
“My coach Doug (Wood) and I have worked on a lot of technical aspects of my game since the start of the season, but a few weeks ago, our focus switched to the mental side of the game. All this pressure is very good for me, because it helps me focus on my goal right – to train myself to stay in the moment. I don’t think about my score, or how many birdies or bogeys I’ve made.”
Lewthwaite said she is relishing the opportunity to go head-to-head with Strydom in the final three-ball on Wednesday.
“I don’t really know Jayden, but Ockie is a bit of a legend on the IGT Tour, so I know we can both learn a lot from him,” Lewthwaite said. “Yes, it would be great to win, but I don’t want to get bogged down by records and such.
“My focus right now is on improving, so I will just be aiming to get through round with the best score possible. The back nine is a tougher loop, so I want to limit my mistakes and give myself the chance to finish inside the top three.”