Heads Game Plan Secures Title and Trophy


When Samantha Head sunk her final putt on the 18th hole, she had no idea why the crowd at the Gary Player Country Club erupted in shouts and cheers.
Head had just secured the title of the first co-sanctioned Nedbank MasterCard South African Ladies Masters, but the 28-year-old blonde did not realise immediately that it was her name at the top of the leaderboard. 'I heard the shouts and looked at the leader board and saw that I clinched it with that final putt,' exclaimed an ecstatic Head.
'It was all part of our game plan,' she added. Head's friend and caddy, European Tour professional Ignacio Garrido, told her this morning to stick to a simply strategy - play the course, only do what's worked so far, stay patient and never look at the leaderboard.
Although she knew she was in contention, Head never looked until the final putt dropped. Starting the final round at three behind the leader, Elisabeth Esterl, Head said she focused on remaining patient and tried not to think too far ahead. 'I've been trying my hardest to win all week,' said Head, winner of the 1999 Ladies Italian Open.
'I have been working very hard on my game, doing extensive work in the gym, as part of a two year plan. I am delighted with this victory - it came a lot quicker than I had anticipated,' bubbled Head after her victory.
Her round featured five birdies on the 2nd, 6th, 8th 14th and 17th holes, and only one drop on the 12th, for a round of 68 (-4). 'My birdie on 17 was a key putt - I hit it really hard from about 15 foot and I'm sure it dented the back of the cup!'
'Yesterday, the pin was on the left of the 18th green and so Ignacio advised me to go for the safe shot. I hit 5-wood from about 179 yards with a slight fade, but it went more straight than I wanted', said the lanky blonde. 'I was shaking really bad - all the way back and through the putt.'
Raquel Carriedo, fresh off her maiden professional victory on the Ladies European Tour in Taiwan last week, started the day at level par, five shots adrift from the overnight leader, Elisabeth Esterl of Germany. Samantha Head tied Paula Marti of Spain for 2nd at 2-under-par.
The Spaniard, who led for most of the day, made Head's task difficult, but a three-putt on the 18th saw her tie with Esterl in 2nd place. Esterl failed to take advantage of her overnight lead or the eagle at the 2nd hole, returning a score of even-par 72. Cecilie Lundgreen of Norway, who started at 1-under, quietly made her way around the Gary Player. A fabulous 10-footer for par on the 18th tied her 2nd with Carriedo and Esterl.
Only five South Africans survived the cut and the top finishing South African came as no surprise. Past Ladies Masters champion, Laurette Maritz, started her round at 3-over, but an up and down day saw her finish tied for 22nd with a total score of 221 (+5). Barbara Pestana finished tied for 37th, while Anneri Wessels and Caryn Louw tied for 28th.
Joanne Norton had the longest day of the South African contingent, recording a 78 (+6) today, in a round that included no birdies, but a terrific eagle on the 14th. She finished tied for 58th.