CAPE TOWN, 18 January 2017 – Watching good friend Graeme Storm lift the BWM SA Open trophy on Sunday put Rebecca Hudson from England in a winning frame of mind ahead of the SA Women’s Masters this week.
“Gosh, Graeme and I go back donkey’s years,” said Hudson, who starts her title defence in the R500 000 showpiece at Rondebosch Golf Club on Thursday. “We grew up in Doncaster and came through the amateur ranks together from our junior days.
“We’ve kept in touch and I really felt for him at the end of last season and now he is set for the rest of the year. I think it was fantastic how Rory (McIlroy) drew in such incredible crowds, but I must admit, I was rooting for Graeme all the way. I hope he is wishing me the same good fortune this week.”
The four-time Ladies European Tour winner admits that she is still struggling to get her head around the concept ‘defending champion’.
“It was so weird arriving at Rondebosch and seeing myself on the posters around the clubhouse,” she said. “It has been eight years since I won the SA Masters at Parkview, but of course that was the last time the tournament was played.
“I guess technically, I am the defending champion and it does stir up a flood of great memories. I won three times on the Ladies European Tour that season, too, so I’ll use those positives this week.”
Hudson, who also won the SA Women’s Open in 2006, said the SA Women’s Masters and SA Women’s Open were great draws when she started out her pro career.
“We used to come out to South Africa for years to start the season and it took a lot of skill and heart to beat the South Africans in their own backyard,” Hudson said.
“The SA Masters and SA Open were the ‘majors’ back then, so to have the SA Women’s Masters back on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, as well, is absolutely brilliant. I hope the Mayor of Cape Town will keep it going for a long time to come.”
Hudson was pleased to learn that 21 internationals will be joining her at Rondebosch.
“That’s about double what we had last year,” she said. “Having more foreign competition raises the standard and makes the tour more competitive and that is what the amateurs in the field need to gain experience. More competition for us heading to Europe or America is great, too, because we are far more competitive when we start up in April.”
A strong field of the leading South Africans will be looking to prevent Hudson from doing a SA Women’s Masters double, but the Englishwoman is more than ready for the challenge.
“My last competitive appearance was in Dubai at the start of December last year, but I played a lot of golf during the break,” she said. “I bought a house in Portugal and my best Kirsty (Fisher) did some renovations and played a lot of golf. I felt great out there in the practice round and the course suits me.
“The course isn’t that long, but it places a premium on accuracy and positioning, and those are the strengths of my game. Given the drought and the fires, the course is in terrific condition and the greens are true and quite fast. It’s going to serve up a terrific week of competition.”