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Garcia targets Sunshine Ladies Tour breakthrough

Nicole Garcia  Photo: Dale Boyce

Nicole Garcia is hoping her first visit to the Millvale Private Retreat is a winning one when she tees it up in the R300,000 Investec Cup for Ladies on Friday.

The Ladies European Tour rookie will go in search of her first Sunshine Ladies Tour title at the prestigious season-finale after a strong performance over the first six events this season.

Garcia claimed a runner-up finish at the opening Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Houghton, and added two top five finishes and a top 10 to her tally over following weeks.

The 23-year-old from Ebotse Country Club said she will draw on a tie for fifth in the Sun International Challenge at Lost City over the final two rounds, but is banking on a solid start at Millvale to give her campaign a positive push.

“The competition is going to be very tough, and I believe I need a strong start at Millvale to take into the last 36 holes at Lost City,” Garcia said.

“I had my first look at the course on Wednesday. It is breathtakingly beautiful and you get side-tracked by the scenery, though. I managed to play the back nine and walk the front nine, but I had to remind myself to look at the lines, to study the greens and to work on the game plan.”

The 18-hole championship course, originally designed by Gary Player and Tyrone Yates, was updated by Phil Jacobs.

“I always feel a little more confident when I’ve had a look at the layout and I think I can have a decent run at this course,” Garcia said.

“Overall, the fairways are generous and the greens are immaculate, but the rough is up and quite thick.

The par-three 17th is a tough nut. It’s pretty long, too. In the practice round, the pin was on the left and I hit a six-iron in, but if the wind is into us, you’re looking at the five-iron.

“There is a steep slope to the right of the green and water on the left, so it will be a difficult up and down if you miss the green.”

Garcia missed the cut at the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco last week. Her premature departure has left her even more determined to finish the Sunshine Ladies Tour season with the best possible ending.

“Morocco was a challenging week, but I will find my feet on the Ladies European Tour,” she said.

“I realise it is going to take some getting used to, but my performances on the Sunshine Ladies Tour has given me a lot confidence here at home.

“I know I can compete. I just need to a fast start and pull it through at Lost City.”

Garcia will fly the flag for South Africa alongside eight-time Ladies European Tour champion Lee-Anne Pace, Sunshine Ladies Tour champions Monique Smit, Tandi von Ruben and Kim Williams, as well as Morgana Robbertze and Francesca Cuturi.

Norway’s Cecilie Lundgreen, Nobuhle Dlamini from Swaziland and England’s Lauren Blease complete the limited line-up in the 54-hole event.

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