WHILE Craig Lee and Pamela Pretswell both recorded top-10 finishes in their respective events, it’s likely the Scottish duo were left with contrasting emotions as the dust settled on the Tshwane Open in South Africa and the World Ladies Championship in China.
On a day when George Coetzee made home advantage count at Pretoria Country Club to claim his second European Tour title, Lee finished joint third but his best performance since losing in a play-off for the European Masters in September 2013 had the gloss taken off it by a costly final hole.
Still in with a chance of claiming his maiden victory on the circuit with four to play after being among six joint-overnight leaders, the 37-year-old from Stirling dropped a shot after missing the fairway at the 15th before running up a double-bogey 6 at the last. A closing 70 for a nine-under-par total of 271 left Lee five shots behind Coetzee – the South African signed off with a 65 to pip compatriot Jacques Blaauw following his course-record 61 – at the finish and, instead of being third on his own, the Scot had to share that position with two others. Nonetheless, he still earned a welcome £57,000.
Coetzee produced a flawless closing effort as he claimed a sweet success on the course where he has been a member since taking up the game and won his first junior competition at the age of ten. “This is a very special day for me,” admitted the 28-year-old, whose previous European Tour win also came on home soil at last year’s Joburg Open. “I think I’ve got this course down after 18 years of playing golf. I think it played to my advantage knowing when to be aggressive and when not to,” he added. “I threw one club championship away here by playing conservative on 17, so today it was quite an easy decision to hit driver.”
For Pretswell, her sixth-place finish at Mission Hills was an outstanding effort given that she was locking horns with three players in the world’s top 10 – Korean duo So Yeon Ryu and Inbee Park as well as Norwegian Suzann Pettersen.
The 25-year-old, who represented Bothwell Castle as an amateur but is now attached to Nairn, where she helped Great Britain & Ireland win the Curtis Cup in 2012, secured a cheque for close to £12,000 after signing off with a 71 for a seven-under-par total. After two successive top-10 finishes – she also claimed sixth spot in the NZ Women’s Open – Pretswell is sitting seventh after the early exchanges in this season’s LET Order of Merit.
Ryu, the world No 8, came from a stroke behind second-ranked Park to capture victory. Ryu carded a closing four-under 69 to finish on 13 under par, one shot ahead of Park (71).
Elsewhere, David Law warmed up for his first Challenge Tour start of the year in Madeira later this week by sharing top spot with the host in the Paul Lawrie Foundation Pro Series event at Penina in Portugal. The two-times Scottish Amateur champion closed with a seven-under-par 66 – the best score of the week – to finish alongside Lawrie (73) on eight-under in the 54-hole tournament involving 18 Scottish professionals.
“It was a fantastic week,” admitted Law. “Paul has done so much for me personally and all the guys there this week really appreciated this opportunity – it’s not often you get the chance to pick the brains of a major champion.”
On the domestic front, Aboyne’s Shannon McWilliam won the opening SLGA event of the season – the Champion of Champions at Gailes Links in Ayrshire. Carding a one-over-par 72, she finished four shots ahead of the runner-up, Hannah McCook (Grantown-on-Spey).