|Nicola Eaton and Melissa Eaton-Jackson will be flying the local flag with pride at the South African Women’s Open.
Nicola Eaton and Melissa Eaton-Jackson will be flying the local flag with pride at the South African Women’s Open.
Nicola, 27, from Port Shepstone, hasn't had much tournament time of late but who knows, may spring a surprise in her home event.
1. How do you rate your chances at the SA Open?
I know I am as good as the girls that will be playing. The only difference is that I have not had any tournaments to play in for a couple years since I moved back to SA. I had no choice, if I did have the money I would probably be on the LET Tour. So basically I know if I can stay relaxed and get myself into the 'zone' then I will do well. But I am keeping my expectations simple and my dreams big. I know if I do well this could change my life but I can't force it. I just hope to have tons of fun competing in a professional event again and just doing what I love to do.
2. What are your strengths?
I actually feel like my whole game is equally strong. I love my driver but the key to Selborne is position not length, so I'm going to love my putter more this week!
3. What makes you mad on the course?
When I think something negative and then do it. It's just so silly, and that's just focus.
4. Who do you see as the favourite?
I think for the SA girls Lee-Anne Pace and Ashleigh Simon, and probably Becky Brewerton of Wales, but these days there is always someone new winning so you never really know.
5. What does it mean to you and women's golf to have this event on the South Coast?
It's great for me because having not played competitively in a while, I at least feel comfortable in this environment and playing a course I know quite well. I am the local girl so there will probably be quite a bit of support behind me which will also be nice to have.
This is a huge breakthrough for women's golf in SA and hopefully it changes all the negative perceptions about women's golf.
We deserve this and more, because South Africa produces not only top class men, but I can guarantee top class women as well if given the chance.
6. How many hours flight is it for your twin Melissa from America?
It's a long flight. Total travel time is close to 20 or so hours from Houston to Durban. I cannot wait to see her. (Melissa is campaigning on the Symetra Tour).
7. How has your game improved in last year?
I feel like I am hitting it better than ever and my short game has come on in leaps and bounds. Maybe it's from teaching others and reinforcing good basics in my game.
8. Do you and Melissa have similar game plans?
Yes, pretty much. I have done notes on the course already and I am pretty much sure Mel's will be the same because we have very similar games.
9. What advice does your mom Colleen, (a former professional) give you - is it different for each of you?
She just tells us both to focus, and just play and forget about everything going on around us, just play one shot at a time.
10. Anything else?
We have always gotten a lot of attention being twin girls playing golf since a young age so we kind of got used to it. It's more fun when we are together but that does not happen so much anymore sadly.
| Melissa Eaton-Jackson
Melissa Eaton-Jackson, 27, brings an American flavour to the SA Women's Open. Although she's originally from Port Shepstone and the twin sister of Nicola (who's living on the South Coast), she's now married to an American, Billy Jackson, and playing on the Symetra Tour, one level below the LPGA.
She couldn't resist the opportunity of flying 'home' and playing her national tournament, especially seeing as though it's just down the road from Port Shepstone at Selborne Park.
Melissa has fared reasonably well on the tour but probably hasn't fulfilled her potential yet. "The goal of the Symetra Tour is to act as a stepping stone to the LPGA Tour, so if you finish in the top 10 on the money list at year end then you earn your LPGA card. I have been on the Symetra Tour for four years, and my best finish on the money list is T32nd. I'm currently in the top 70 after seven events, but if you dont have a top five finish in a tournament then the chances of you finishing in the top 10 at year end are slim," she said.
Her best finish to date is a T2nd in 2010 at the Pennsylvania Classic.
As far as the future is concerned Melissa is still set on playing on the LPGA Tour and feels as though all the missing pieces to help get her there are coming together.
"I have been so fortunate to have the help of a great sponsor from Houston and have been given some amazing opportunities that I believe will help me reach my goals. I'm just so grateful for my life, and the opportunity I have right now to play this great game for a living."
The twins haven't seen each other since October last year and Melissa would obviously like to see more of her sister. "We're in touch almost daily via whatsapp and I call my family at least once a week," she said.
The twins have a very close relationship. "We talk about everything, and a lot of the time just giggle at silly things! We find it difficult to really share a whole lot, but we try our best. We hate being so far apart! My hubby, Billy and Nikki's boyfriend Shane definitely bear the brunt of it."
And while focusing on the SA Open is important, there's no doubt there'll be some shopping to check out the latest fashions before Melissa flies back to Texas.