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No Mistry – Kajal is on top form
WHILE Louis Oosthuizen and Branden Grace head a South African contingent in the US Open at fabled Pebble Beach this week a much younger South African – 18-year-old whiz-kid Kajal Mistry – will at the same time take her sweet golf swing to another storied venue, Royal County Down, to seek fame and fortune in the British Women’s Amateur.
Actually, maybe not fortune just yet as amateurs don’t get paid for their efforts! But GolfRSA Elite Squad Mistry has certainly made an impact with her golf at home this year – winning a rare strokeplay and matchplay double in the South African Amateur Championship at Woodhill Country Club last month.
She went wire-to-wire in the strokeplay with rounds of of 70, 67 and 71 for eight-under-par 208 to win by five from Caityn Macnab. And in the matchplay she sailed through the first four rounds before finding herself two down though 15 holes in the 18-hole final against Kaylah Williams.
“But then Kaylah bogeyed 16 and I birdied 17 to square the match,” said Mistry at her home club, Randpark, this week. “We both parred 18, both birdied the 19th and then I made birdie at the 20th to seal the deal.” So a birdie, par, birdie, birdie finish. That was pretty cool, she agreed.
Remarkably, Kajal has been under the tutelage of highly-rated Randpark professional coach Darren Witter since the age of just three when she started golf, staying loyal to him and, combined with what he describes as her “incredible work ethic”, together they have honed her undoubtedly rich talent to something even richer.
And she’s also loyal to Randpark. “It’s such a fantastic club, with two great golf courses (Firethorn and Bushwillow) and every practice facilty imaginable. I’m here six days a week for six to seven hours, including at the gym which is right next to the driving range. It’s the perfect set-up.”
This young birdie queen also won the SA strokeplay in 2017, aged just 16, and between September 2016 and the end of 2017, amassed no less than 11 victories on home soil. That success rate dropped a little last year as a result of overseas travel and trying to sandwich her matric studies (she did very well) at Crawford College Lonehill in between rounds of golf.
Now she’s landed herself a full four-year scholarship at the University of Arkansas, whose graduates include Stacy Lewis, who went on to be ranked No 1 in the world, John Daly and, most recently, Maria Fassi, who won 10 American college events and has just turned professional, finishing 12th in the US Women’s Open in her first start in the pair ranks.
So a lot is happening for Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member, Mistry. And first up, starting on Tuesday, is Northern Ireland’s celebrated Royal Country Down, which Golf Digest has ranked as the world’s No 1 course.
“The field is 144 and after 36 holes of strokeplay the top 64 make the matchplay. My dad Nilesh will be with me offering support,” says Kajal. “I feel every part of my game is strong, but he says my putting’s best so hopefully the putts will be dropping.” Again.
By Grant Winter
Image : Credit – GolfRSA