Unimedia Pro was delighted to hear that Tijana Kraljevic accepted the invite to play in the Little Pace Challenge which takes place on the 2nd August 2016 at Pearl Valley at Val De Vie Estate. The event has already attracted the cream of women’s golf South Africa, to celebrate women’s month with the greats and legendary golfer ‘Sally Little and current SA no one Lee-Anne Pace’.
Michelle Leigh spent some time with her over last couple of days to get to know more about this athlete that demonstrates an unwavering determination to become a great at the game she loves so much.
Tijana Kraljevic was born in Serbia and her family immigrated to Cape Town, South Africa in 1993 because of tough circumstances and a recession due to a war on its way in Serbia at the time, my family strived for a better life for my older brother Danilo (also a professional golfer) and me.
At the age of 12, I joined Westlake golf club in Cape Town and had my first Handicap of 31. My brother Danilo inspired me to start playing golf, at that time he at 15 was the youngest player chosen to represent the senior Western Province inter-provincial team alongside stars such as Mathew Kent.
At age 13 we moved to Johannesburg where I had gained great facilities at Pecanwood. That year I devoted my life to becoming a professional golfer after 2 years of blood, sweat and tears I became a scratch player at the age of 15.
My first major win came at age 17 in 2008 a senior amateur open event held at Euphoria Annika Sorenstam’s first golf course. This to me was a great sign that I was destined to follow her path to the top. A few months later I had traveled to my country of birth (Serbia) to play in the Mens Serbian amateur open as golf is under developed there I only had men to compete against. I had won my first international event that week with a 6 shot victory.
The following year at age 18 I had gotten my first wild card to a professional women’s tour in Sweden now called the Nordea Tour. My first debut as a professional came at the Dalsland Resort Ladies open in Melleruds Sweden.
The next 3 years I travelled Europe playing the LET Access, Banesto tour in Spain and the ladies Generali tour in France.
At 21 I moved to Beijing China to gain experience in coaching as I had no doors open to me for sponsorship in the west. At Chaoyang golf club in Beijing I spent 9 months coaching as well as holding on to my dreams and looking after my game. At the end of 2012 I realized I would need to make my way back to South Africa if I wanted a chance at making it as South Africa has a great infrastructure to help professional golfers.
What timing I made the Ladies Sunshine tour was on the verge of forming thanks to Investec and the WPGA had gained a great leader (Barbara Pestana) to develop professional W omens golf in South Africa.
Tthe last three has been the best years of my life playing on the Ladies Sunshine Tour. I am looking forward to the new season in January 2017 and from there I will be attending LPGA qualifying in July where I plan on joining the likes of Lee-Anne Pace and Ashleigh Simon who have recently opened the gateway to the LPGA for fellow South Africans women golfers.