The hopes of the nation rested entirely on Bhavi Shah. As Kenya’s only lady pro in the elite Ladies European Tour (LET), Bhavi was up against the crème de la crème of Europe’s top cast. Unfortunately, she failed to make the cut, after a tense two rounds during which she posted 23 over par.
1. How do you describe your performance at the Ladies European Tour event?
I started off well in the first round but couldn’t finish the event well. I was not satisfied with my performance at all since I know I could have done better. But remember I had been out of the game for a while. I think the nerves got the better of me. The pressure plus the heat exhaustion didn’t go too well for me.
2. Was the performance in line with your expectations?
I expected to make the cut to be honest, as I had been playing almost daily at Nyali leading up to the event. I was hitting the ball pretty well. My performance therefore wasn’t to my expectation, but on the side of the experience, it matched and probably was way above my expectation. The course was set up so well and tight, with out of bounds on most holes, which made it interesting.
3. How well did you prepare for the event?
I haven’t been playing much for the last couple of years up until May 2019 when I began playing plus some sessions in the gym. I had to balance Range sessions with the on-course play as I needed get used to scoring well as well as practicing to strike the ball. Sadly I didn’t get the LET invite till much later, but I managed to play a couple of men events to prepare. So I guess I prepared the best way in those circumstances.
4. During the tournament, what can you say went right for you?
Many of things went well for me. I got to open the tournament for one- being the first to tee off and that was a great honour. I hit some very good shots, made a few birdies, and had some nice sand saves. My driving was pretty good. I have added a little distance to my game which was my main concern as I hadn’t competed in a long time. My short game has always been my strength and that helped to control the damage on the second day when I was worn out totally and lastly, I got a chance to put my pre round fitness to test.
5. And what didn’t go well?
I could have handled the pressure a little better as I knew that I only needed to play a level par round on the second day. I hit a shank on my 5th hole on the second day which then brought out the nerves properly. I never recovered!
6. How do you describe the quality of the foreign pros?
The LET is the second biggest tour after the LPGA, so the quality of the field was extremely good. It’s all about consistency and the will to finish well, and we saw that in the final group on the final day.
7. What advantage did the visiting pros have over the local girls?
I would say just their competitive edge is way higher. It is a game where you learn from experience. They play on world stage events and that elevates their game. Our amateur circuit is usually played from just the red tees, whereas these foreign girls play on the big stage for about 2-3 years before they turn pro. So I would say they have learned to enjoy the events and compete in them at the same time.
8. Did you learn anything from the foreign pros?
Of course, I picked up a couple of things. One of my playing partners, the girl from Swaziland, I used to play with her in South Africa has developed a great routine where the next shot is the most important shot. And that is what I need to learn- to bounce back from a bad shot, swing or hole is very important.
9. Has staging this event in Kenya benefited you and the lady golfers in any way?
The experience was phenomenal and it ignited the urge to play more for me, definitely. Now I want to see how far I can go. I now know how much strength and stamina is required at that level and that golfers are athletes.
10. Now that we have started a new year, what are your plans?
I actually was away in December but kept up with mobility and strength side of work even when on holiday, which was nice, showing that I am mentally preparing to play a lot more. I would like to play some events in SA and India and of course when those are not available, I would like to still play on the Safari Tour. I am currently working on building a better routine for every shot and hope that will change a few things for me whilst competing.