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South African Nicole Garcia fired an opening round of four-under-par 68 in ideal conditions to take a two-stroke lead on day one of the Lalla Meryem Cup at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Morocco. Garcia made a steady start with 11 straight pars but a run of four birdies in six holes from the 12th put her two ahead of her best friend and roommate, Stacy Bregman, as well as German duo Isi Gabsa and Laura Fuenfstueck. Three of the four players at the top of the leader board have enjoyed success on the South African Sunshine Ladies Tour this season. Garcia posted four top 10s finishes, while Fuenfstueck won the SA Women’s Masters in February. Bregman secured the season-opening Canon Tshwane Open and then the Sunshine Ladies Tour Investec Property Fund Order of Merit, following the co-sanctioned Investec SA Women’s Open last month. Garcia and Bregman have practised together at home in Johannesburg every day since then, on courses with kikuya grass, although it was Garcia who had the edge on the opening day in the Moroccan capital. “The grass on the courses here is quite similar to back home and I think that does help, especially around the greens,” said the 27-year-old, who won the LET’s stage one Lalla Aicha Tour School qualifier by 13 shots on the Red Course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in 2014 and then tied for second in the 2015 Lalla Meryem Cup at Golf de L’Ocean in Agadir. “Every year I’ve had a few good rounds here and a few tough ones, so I’m hoping it’s going to be more consistent. “I started off a little rocky and I don’t think I hit a green until maybe the sixth hole, so I had a lot of up and downs and some good saves and that got the momentum going. On the back nine, I hit a few good shots, but the putting was good. I’m very pleased, especially after the front nine.” Garcia said she and LET travel partner Bregman had a bet going that they would both go to Mauritius if they won events this season and as Bregman has already won in South Africa, it’s her turn now. According to Bregman, she had promised to pay for Garcia’s trip. “I owe her a trip to Mauritius because I won an event and the order of merit. Hopefully I can win here and still take her to Mauritius and somewhere else or if she wins, she can take me somewhere.” The 23-year-old Fuenfstueck said that her win at San Lameer Golf Resort in South Africa, followed by a top-10 finish on the LET Access Series at Terre Blanche a fortnight ago, had helped her to banish the nerves on the first tee in only her second LET event. She made three birdies on the front nine but dropped a shot on the 18th and said afterwards: “I had a good start but had to fight a bit on the last couple of holes. I think on the last shot into the green I hit it a bit too good, so it ended up being a bit long but I’m happy with two under.” Fittingly for a finance graduate, of Charleston University, she said that her goal was to break even this year. “I just want to play as much as I can. Obviously, this is an amazing event and I’m still a bit mind-blown. I’m trying not to get lost between all the tents and everything. I’m trying to enjoy myself. It’s a bit of a dream come true, I think. You always want to play alongside the men and with the top people in Europe and the world. I’m trying not to get too excited and stick to my game plan.” Meanwhile, European Solheim Cup team member Florentyna Parker, who played with HRH Prince Moulay Rachid, Chairman of the Hassan II Golf Trophy Association and the Moroccan Golf Federation in the Pro-Am on Tuesday, was a stroke back in a large group of players on one-under-par. The defending champion Klara Spilkova opened with a one-over-par 73 and was happy with her score. Follow the Ladies European Tour: Twitter/Instagram: @LETgolf Facebook: LadiesEuropeanTour Web: ladieseuropeantour.com  
Ashleigh Buhai wrote her name in the record books of the Investec South African Women’s Open once again, thanks to a two-stroke victory at Westlake Golf Club in Cape Town on Saturday. The only amateur to win the national championship twice – and the youngest champion to boot – fired a flawless final round 67 to realise a dream she’s nurtured since she joined the pro ranks in 2007. “I’m absolutely ecstatic. I knew I had to play really well today and that’s what I did. I just felt really focused the whole day and hit all the shots I needed to and holed a few good putts,” said Buhai, who triumphed on -under-par 207. “No matter what country you’re from, you want to lift your national title. Having won it twice as an amateur was a bit crazy, because the first time I won it I was just 14. The older you get, the more you realise what it means to you. To finally win it as a professional is priceless. I’m very chuffed.” [caption id="attachment_27207" align="alignleft" width="300"] Five-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion Stacy Bregman edged out Investec South African Women’s Open champion Ashleigh Buhai by a slender 130 points to win the 2018 Investec Property Fund Order of Merit; credit Michael Edwards for Investec[/caption] Compatriot Stacy Bregman also had 100,000 reasons to celebrate. The Johannesburg golfer hit a magnificent bunker shot to three feet to up-and-down for par at the 18th to bank the R100 000 bonus as the Sunshine Ladies Tour Investec Property Fund Order of Merit winner. Bregman, who won the season-opening Canon Tshwane Open, also closed with a 67. “I didn’t have the best start to the week, but I came out today and wanted to do really well,” said Bregman, who finished in fourth place on three-under 213. “I knew that I had nothing to lose and to finish off the way that I did, it teaches me a lot about myself, that I have what it takes at clutch moments like that. I knew what I had to do and to pull it off was just magical.” Buhai started the day on four-under and one shot off the pace, behind Karolin Lampert. The German overhauled Buhai for the second-round lead with a 69, but Lampert didn’t hold on to pole position for long. Making the most of the tranquil conditions, Buhai closed the gap with a birdie start and moved to seven-under with back-to-back gains at the fifth and sixth holes for a two-stroke lead. Long-hitting Lampert birdied the par-5 seventh to narrow the gap, but missed an opportunity to tie for the lead when her birdie putt on the ninth from five feet moved below the hole. Buhai then birdied the 10th to regain her two-stroke advantage and stretched that to three strokes when Lampert bogeyed 11. Both players birdied the long 13th and Lampert made a fantastic putt from the back of the 14th green, only to drop a shot on the short 15th. Buhai had birdie chances on 16, 17 and again at 18, where her birdie putt slipped past the hole, leaving her a tap-in for par. Lampert was thrilled with a strong start to her season after she signed off with a 70. “I wanted to post a sub-par round and I was really pleased to do that,” said former LET Access Series winner Lampert, who now has her sights set on a Ladies European Tour title in 2018. “Ashleigh played really well, a 67 and more chances on the back nine, so it was really hard to keep up with her. I’ve been pleased with my game all week and happy to finish second. “I’m so pleased that I decided to start my season at the Investec SA Women’s Open. I’ve been working on my swing in the off-season to get some more length off the tee and I did that here, so it was a good decision to stay a bit longer off the course. Today I hit it longer than I expected, even with my irons.” Moroccan Maha Haddioui ended in third place on four-under-par, which was her best result since she earned her Ladies European Tour card in 2013. “It feels really good. I had a tough time in Australia and didn’t play great. I loved being in South Africa. Finishing third here and having my best finish on the LET is really awesome. The course suited my game and I think the key was just playing smart. I played chicken a lot of the time and didn’t go for the pins, but I putted well and it really helped me this week. “It’s more special to be in Africa, on my home continent. Even though I’m really far from home, I still feel at home, somehow. I really like being in South Africa and I haven’t been for a few years. I’m going to go and see the penguins today, so I’m really excited.” Three-time LET winner Florentyna Parker closed out the top five. The English golfer carded a final round 70 to finish at two-under-par 214. [caption id="attachment_27208" align="alignright" width="300"] Sunshine Ladies Tour Investec Property Fund Order of Merit winner Stacy Bregman, Investec South African Women’s Open champion Ashleigh Buhai and Lindi Coetzee, who won the Jackie Mercer Trophy as the leading amateur in the national open at Westlake Golf Club; credit Thinus Maritz / Sunshine Ladies Tour.[/caption] The final trophy during the prize giving was awarded to Gauteng North golfer Lindi Coetzee. The 18-year-old used the experience gained from playing with professionals in five Sunshine Ladies Tour events to make the cut and lift the Jackie Mercer trophy as the leading amateur in this year’s national open.                 Written by and released by Lali Stander and Bethan Cutlet on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, European Ladies Tour and WPGA.
Karolin Lampert produced a brilliant front nine to surge into a one-shot lead on moving day at Westlake Golf Club, but Ashleigh Buhai is in close pursuit heading into the final round of the Investec South African Women’s Open. The German had started the second round in a tie for second on two-under and a shot behind two-time champion Buhai. On a magnificent morning tailor-made for low scoring, Lampert got off to a bogey start, but rallied with three birdies on the bounce from 13 to turn four-under. Buhai, playing behind the German, stretched her lead to five-under with birdies at 13 and 17. Lampert bogeyed the first, but birdied the par-five fourth and the 23-year-old set the clubhouse target at five-under with a birdie at the par-four eighth. She was still perched at the top of the leaderboard as action wrapped up on Friday. “I took advantage of the good scoring conditions, because there wasn’t really any wind to speak of,” said the Golf Club St Leon Rot golfer. “The greens were rolling really nicely, so it was the perfect conditions to post a low round.” “I three-putted 10 and I wanted to get some shots back as quickly as possible. I had an opportunity at 12, but I missed the birdie putt from about eight feet. I stayed patient and hit some good shots into 13, 14 and 15 and the putts finally started rolling in. “At the eighth I hit 3-wood off the tee to take the bunker out of play and I only had a wedge in to the pin that was stuck on the right. I hit it to 12 foot and one of the girls I played with, Lina Boqvist, hit it just past me. I got a really good read on her line and knocked the putt in. This is my first start of the season, so I couldn’t be happier. I’m still hunting a maiden win, and I’ve given myself a chance.” Buhai birdied four to go six-under, but hit a major wobble when she dropped three shots in succession from the sixth. “I played really steady on the front nine and hit some really good shots, but I got myself in to a bit of a downward spiral on my back nine with three soft drops,” said the 28-year-old. “I saw the lead was five-under coming up the eighth and I really wanted to make that last birdie. She hit her approach to 25 feet and nailed the putt for a 71 to finish within a shot of Lampert. “The ninth hole was playing a lot shorter, so I hit driver and a wedge into the green. I have to admit that I have some mixed emotions. I’m happy that I got it to six under and I’m disappointed that I let it slip. Coming up the last, I just wanted to make sure I am still in the mix after the wobble and I did it with that birdie. “We were really blessed with the weather on our side of the draw for the last two days, but there is wind forecast for the final round and we’ll be off late. We may have to adapt our strategy depending on the wind. But I’m in with a shout and that’s all that matters.” Former Sanlam SA Amateur champion Bonita Bredenhann also got it to five under with three birdies in the first four holes, but she turned level par after a trio of bogeys. The big-hitting Namibian erased a fourth bogey at 10 with a birdie at 13, and holed a 25-footer at 18 for birdie. A round of 71 earned her sole third place on three-under. “I can’t believe I’m in contention,” said the bubbly Namibian, a former Womens Golf South Africa number one. “I’ve just had a horrible season this year, struggling for form, but it’s shown up at the perfect time. I’m super excited to be in the mix.” The Ladies European Tour’s top ranked player Valdis Jonsdottir was two-under coming down 18, but the Icelander had tree trouble and bogeyed the closing hole. The LET number 10 signed for 69 and will start the final round tied for fourth on one-under with Morocco’s Maha Haddioui, who shot 71. Defending champion Lee-Anne Pace opened with a 78, but trended towards the leaders with birdies at four, seven, 13 and 17. Her par-putt at 18 just shaved the hole and a 69 puts her at three-over. “To tell you the truth, I was worried that I’d miss the cut,” laughed Pace. “It was a little embarrassing turning up here this morning, but I got the putter going really nicely today. “I set myself a target of four or five under, but unfortunately I got distracted as I started the putt at 18 and I ended up with a 69. The lead didn’t move much today, but I’ll have to go pretty low to win it. Anything is possible, though, and I’m really happy to be here tomorrow.” And for Lindi Coetzee the final round is bound to be really special. Fresh off her first provincial victory in the North West Open, the Gauteng North golfer was the only amateur to make the cut to 50 and ties with rounds of 77 and 73. Irrespective of what Coetzee shoots in the final round, she will stand next to the champion to receive the Jackie Mercer Trophy as the leading amateur in this year’s Investec South African Women’s Open. Written by and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai reeled in three birdies on the back nine of Westlake Golf Club to race into the first round lead of the R2-million Investec South African Women’s Open on Thursday. Buhai made the most of the tranquil conditions in Cape Town to fire a three-under-par 69 and opened up a one shot lead on the three-way tie for second. “I saw at the turn that the leaders were on two-under, so I set myself a goal of three-under,” Buhai confessed. “We were very lucky with the conditions, because the wind didn’t blow as it did during the pro-am. I knew there would be a few under out there and I was very patient.” Buhai leads by one shot from big-hitting Bonita Bredenhann from Namibia, who set the clubhouse target alongside fellow early starter Silvia Bannon from Spain. Germany’s Karolin Lampert joined the pack at two under in the late afternoon. Former Canon Ladies Tshwane Open champion Kiran Matharu from England finished in fifth place with a one-under-par 71, while rising star Ivanna Samu was the next best-placed South African. Samu tied for sixth on level par with recent SA Women’s Masters winner Laura Fuenfstueck from Germany, French pair Manon Molle and Camille Chevalier, Maha Haddioui from Morocco and three-time Ladies European Tour winner Florentyna Parker. Buhai won the Investec South African Women’s Open twice as an amateur – first as a 14-year-old at her home club, Royal Johannesburg and Kensington in 2004 and again just before she turned pro in 2007 at Durban Country Club. She’s made no secret of her desire to capture the prestigious title a third time over the last couple of years and came into the week with a winning mind-set. Buhai started the 2018 Sunshine Ladies Tour season with a runner-up finish in the Canon Ladies Tshwane Open and claimed her eighth trophy with a commanding wire-to-wire victory in the Joburg Ladies Open a week later. Then she jetted off to Australia for a three-week stint on the LPGA Tour. “I was a little jetlagged coming home and caught a cold somewhere along my travels, but this morning I felt right as rain and ready to go,” said Buhai. She cancelled a bogey at the second with a birdie at eighth to turn level, and holed a 20-footer at the par-four 12th to spark some momentum on the back nine. “I’d been very patient up to that point, but sometimes you just need to make some good pars to keep the round going,” said the 27-year-old Edenvale native. “I put a really good stroke on the putt at 12 and that got me into red numbers. “I nearly holed out at the 15th and I was so sorry the ball didn’t drop. They’ve put up a painting as a hole-in-one prize and Dave (Buhai) and I just bought a flat, so we could use some art. I hit a really good approach into 18 and finished pin-high left, about 20 foot from the pin. “It was quite a tricky little putt and Dave and I both had a good look. I decided to hit it inside right and it went right in. Winning this as an amateur was huge for me, but now, with two Major starts in play, it’s really something I’d like to get done this year.” Ethel Ruthenberg from Southern Cape led the 12-strong amateur contingent with a two-over 74, while defending champion Lee-Anne Pace finished a further two strokes adrift after an opening 76.   LIVE SCORING - http://sunshineladiestour.com/ Follow us on social media TOURNAMENT TAGS: #InvestecSAWomensOpen TWITTER - @SLadiesTour and @LETgolf / @investec and @sawomensopen INSTAGRAM - @sunshineladiestour and @letgolf FACEBOOK – Sunshine Ladies Tour and Ladies European Tour Written by and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace has duel objectives on the mind ahead of the Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club from 8-10 March in Cape Town. Last year, the 12-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner completed a hat-trick of titles with her third successive victory at San Lameer Country Club to join Mandy Adamson as a three-time national Open winner. Winning the title four times is her first big aspiration. “My goal this week is simple; I want to win,” said Pace. “I'd really like to lift that trophy. I will try to get good scores in the first two rounds to put myself in contention. But we'll have to see what the weather does. Sometimes level par can be a good score if the wind really blows.” The Investec South African Women’s Open is the marquee event on the Sunshine Ladies Tour. This year’s edition is co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour for the first time since 2014 and offers a purse of R2-million, with the winner getting the lion share worth R317 000. Pace also has the season-long points list on her mind. At 15th with 590 points, the Boschenmeer golfer is some way off top of the pile Stacy Bregman on 1710 points but with 2400 points up for grabs for the winner, the motivation is certainly there and Pace could make the jump to claim the points list title and continue to dominate the money list title she claimed in the 2014, 2015 and 2016, A number of permutations are possible with third place this week worth 1550 points which interestingly is just 160 less than Bregman has earned from six events. For Pace though, the task is simple - win the tournament and whip out the calculator later. “I’d love to win both and end the season on a high note,” said Pace, who lost the Chase to the Investec Cup title fight to Ashleigh Buhai last year. The field boasts 123 players with a total of 26 countries represented and the 37-year-old LPGA winner and nine-time Ladies European Tour champion knows it will be a tough task to come out on top in a strong field. “Carly [Booth] is good, but there are a lot of other quality players playing this week,” said Pace. “Flory Parker loves the wind, so I expect her to perform well this week. There are a number of new players I have never compete against, so there is the unknown factor. And our girls are coming off six weeks, so they are highly competitive. “It’s fantastic to have such a strong field here in Cape Town, but it will be tough to win. I'm just really happy we have a co-sanctioned event again and I'm excited about where the Sunshine Ladies Tour is heading.” Pace will be facing stiff competition from her peers, but she has dug out her old Scotty Cameron putter and, having found some great pace with ‘old faithful’ in the last couple of days, she is rearing to go. “I played decently in Australia two weeks ago, but I didn’t putt well at all,” she said. “So as soon as I got back, I went looking for my Scotty. I’ve just bought a house at Boschenmeer and I am busy moving, so it was no easy task tracking down my Scotty. “I putted my whole career with the Scotty Cameron and then suddenly last year I didn't feel comfortable. I think it got bent on the same flight my driver broke, because it was around that time that I lost confidence with my putting. “Instead of getting a new putter, I just went with something different. I tried the mallet for half the season last year, but I just can't get comfortable with it. So I just went back to what I know.” Pace took third in the season-opening Canon Ladies Tshwane Open, but was forced to withdraw in the first round of the Joburg Ladies Open. “That was a huge blow, I was playing really well at the time as well,” Pace said. “I just woke up that morning and had really bad stomach flu, I couldn't even lift my arm. I tried to play, but I just couldn't swing the golf club - it was too heavy.” Bregman won at Pretoria Country Club and Buhai triumphed at Modderfontein Golf Club, but Pace did not wallow in disappointment. In the third event, she returned to the winner’s circle when she beat good friend Anne-Lise Caudal of France in a playoff for the Cape Town Ladies Open title. “Winning in Cape Town was really fun. I always enjoy playing in Cape Town because my friends and family always come out and watch. I happened to also play against my best friend in a playoff and won. It was a really good week, and that win there will set me up well for Westlake. “It was funny because we didn't even know there was going to be a playoff,” she said. “I asked Anne-Lise what score did you finish on, and she said eight-under and I said I was the same. It was only then that we realised we were going to be in a playoff. We just started laughing.  At the end of the day it's nothing personal and you just try and do your best.” Though Pace has not played Westlake Golf Club this millennium, she was still confident she could compete for the title. “I haven't played Westlake since I won a Western Province amateur event here; it was probably 20 years ago,” she said, laughing. “I like the course. It's a tough layout, especially when the wind blows and according to the forecast, the wind is going to blow. It will be interesting because it's a tight little golf course with small greens, so you really have to control the ball flight in the wind.” Pace is always a heavy favourite, as is Bregman and Buhai, but a number of younger players coming through the ranks coming through the ranks could turn this year’s Investec South African Women’s Open into an intriguing battle. Look out for second ranked Nobuhle Dlamini, who picked up her maiden victory at the SuperSport Ladies Challenge last week, second season professionals Ivanna Samu and Lora Assad and a slew of Ladies European Tour rookies, including Marita Engzelius and Silvia Bañon, who tied for second in the Women’s New South Wales Open. LIVE SCORING - http://sunshineladiestour.com/ Follow us on social media: TOURNAMENT TAGS: #InvestecSAWomensOpen TWITTER - @SLadiesTour and @LETgolf / @investec and @sawomensopen INSTAGRAM - @sunshineladiestour and @letgolf FACEBOOK – Sunshine Ladies Tour and Ladies European Tour Written by and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
Nobuhle Dlamini no longer feels like a long shot. Still wrapped in the afterglow of her maiden breakthrough in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge last week, the big-hitting Swazi golfer jetted into the City of Cape Town on Tuesday, ready to fire in the Investec South African Women’s Open. “Now that I got rid of the monkey on my back, I feel like I can do anything,” Dlamini said. “I’m still celebrating inside, because it was such a long time coming. There was always one thing or another holding me back; a bad first round, a cold putter in the last round, or nerves. “I’ve been building towards a win and I knew I just needed to stay patient. Last week I had control of everything for three rounds at the Wild Coast Sun. I won so many titles as an amateur, and I’ve got that winning feeling back. Finally. It’s a great feeling to carry around.” The Sunshine Ladies Tour and Ladies European Tour co-sanctioned event gets underway at Westlake Golf Club on Thursday and the R2-million showstopper will draw the curtain on the fifth Sunshine Ladies Tour season. The Ladies European Tour season, however, only just kicked off. Not only will the winner bank lion’s share of the prize money worth R317 000, the trophy comes with Ladies European Tour exemption until the end of 2019 and world ranking points. Most importantly, success on Saturday will guarantee the 2018 champion starts in two of the season’s five majors – the Ricoh British Women’s Open and the Evian Championship. “With those kind of incentives on the table, you’re going to have to play to win this week and that’s what I’m here for,” said Dlamini. “It’s going to be tough. We played the pro-am on Wednesday in winds gusting up to 45 km per hour and that’s the forecast for all three days of the tournament. Although I never played Westlake, I played a lot of golf in the wind in Cape Town, so I’m pretty confident with my skills in the wind.” Dlamini won the Sanlam SA Women’s Amateur Championship in a windy 36-hole final at Royal Cape in 2009 and went wire-to-wire at Umhlali Country Club in even more blustery conditions to lift the 2012 Sanlam SA Stroke Play title. And the wind didn’t seem to bother her one bit at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club last week. “No, windy conditions doesn’t worry me,” said the 27-year-old. “I played a practice round of Tuesday in much the same conditions. The challenge is come over the first three holes, because the wind is very strong into you. On the other holes, it either helps you or it’s off the side. “You can actually use it to your advantage, because it’s a tight course and tree-lined. But you’ll have to keep it play. The greens are rolling very true and they’re a really nice speed. The course isn’t that long, so you can take any club in the bag, but if you don’t hit fairways and greens, you won’t score. The winning recipe this week is fairways, greens and a hot putter.” Dlamini is just over 350 points behind Investec Property Fund Order of Merit leader Stacy Bregman, who is equally keen to wrap her hands around the trophy. “Well, firstly I’d like to win the points list, because that’s worth R100 000 and it’s something really special to be the best player over a season,” Bregman said. “Obviously I already have Ladies European Tour membership, but a win would mean teeing it up in two Majors. That’s huge. “I plan to split my time between Europe and the Symetra Tour in the United States this year. It would a massive step if I had guaranteed starts in two majors; it would take a lot of pressure off.” Three-time champion Lee-Anne Pace will be gunning for a record fourth successive victory. She admitted that the job got even tougher with two Majors starts on offer. “For sure that has upped the ante this week and every one of the 123 players in the field will be playing for victory,” said Pace. “Everyone will come out the blocks firing and firing hard. There’s very little I can control other than my own game, so I’ll just have to make sure that I make a great start to put myself with the frontrunners from the get-go.” Entry to watch the golf and partake of the food trucks and entertainment is free all days. Spectators are invited to picnic with the champions on Saturday – just register for free entry at www.quicket.co.za/events/41338-investec-south-africa-womens-open/#/ LIVE SCORING - http://sunshineladiestour.com Follow us on social media TOURNAMENT TAGS: #InvestecSAWomensOpen TWITTER - @SLadiesTour and @LETgolf / @investec and @sawomensopen INSTAGRAM - @sunshineladiestour and @letgolf FACEBOOK – Sunshine Ladies Tour and Ladies European Tour Written by and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
Nobuhle Dlamini finally broke her duck on the Sunshine Ladies Tour with a wire-to-wire victory in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club. The 27-year-old Swazi golfer closed with a final round two-over 72 to capture the R400 000 event, presented by Sun International, by one shot from Lora Assad on Friday. Dlamini was challenged by a number of players, including Assad, who posted four-under with her final round 69. Port Shepstone professional Melissa Eaton was also in contention most of the way before signing off with a three-over 73 and third place on three-under. The significance of her triumph in the extremely windy conditions at the par 70 layout was not lost on Dlamini. “Personally this has built me a lot. I’ve learnt about being confident, trusting what you’re doing,” said Dlamini. “I won a lot as an amateur, but it had been too long since my last win. So I needed to win to know I could still do it. It’s the beginning of a good journey for me. I hope it will open many doors in terms of sponsorships and getting into other bigger tournaments.” Dlamini had knocked on the door plenty over the last four years in the pro ranks, but particularly this season. A fourth place finish at the Joburg Ladies Open in January and joint second at the SA Women’s Masters last week suggested the watershed moment was in her near future. On a windswept final day at the coastal oasis her hopes turned to reality. “I played well the first two days, but I struggled a bit today because I was a bit nervous,” she said. “I held it together and I’m absolutely ecstatic. It really means a lot to me and to everyone who has supported me. It’s been a long journey with lots of hard work. Trying to win my confidence grew, so I’m really happy that I hung in there to win.” Dlamini has come under a lot of pressure to shake the bridesmaid tag, especially her performance at Modderfontein Golf Club. To finally go out and get the job done brought a great sense of relief. “I kept saying I was going to win and I felt that I could win, but I just couldn’t finish it off,” Dlamini admitted. “This week I wasn’t expecting much. I just believed I’m good enough to win. That belief relaxed me. I said to myself I should just forget about the results and trust the process.” The Swazi golfer suspected scoring would be difficult in the testing conditions. “I didn’t know what the players ahead of us were doing, because there wasn’t too many scoreboards on the course,” she said. “I knew Lora was playing well, and she was under par, but didn’t know by how much. So I just said to myself anything close to level par should get the job done today.” Playing into the teeth of the wind at the par four 18th, Dlamini had no idea that Assad had bogeyed the closing hole. She carved her drive out to the right, chipped back into play but was still unable to reach the putting surface in three. Coming out the greenside bunker, she missed a 10-footer for bogey, but was able to glide in a knee-knocking three-footer to get her hands on the trophy and a paycheque of R56 000. “I was level on 17 where I saw the leaderboard, and I thought I had a two shot lead,” Dlamini said. “I hit driver at the middle, but the wind carried it into the rough. From there I was forced to chip out and still had a tough third shot. I thought a five was good enough, but I didn’t know what Lora had done.” “I actually asked my caddie ‘do I have to make this putt or are two putts good enough?’ He said he wasn’t also not sure. So I then tried to make the bogey putt, but hit it too far past. But I made sure of the return.” Dlamini will take a boat-load of confidence into next week’s Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club and not only from lifting her first trophy. The victory catapulted her to second in the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit and she will start the Ladies European Tour co-sanctioned event less than 400 points behind Stacy Bregman, who remained at the top of the summit and moved to 1 710 points with a joint 24th place finish. LIVE SCORING - http://sunshineladiestour.com/ Follow us on social media TWITTER - @SLadiesTour INSTAGRAM - @sunshineladiestour FACEBOOK - Sunshine Ladies Tour Written by and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
Nobuhle Dlamini moved one step closer to her maiden Sunshine Ladies Tour victory with a second round one-under 69 to lead by a shot from Melissa Eaton at the R400 000 SuperSport Ladies Challenge, presented by Sun International, on Thursday. Dlamini followed her brilliant opening round of six-under 64 at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club with a more subdued 18 holes on day two to get to seven-under overall, but a 69 did her quest to grab her breakthrough win no harm at all. Sunshine Ladies Tour debutant Jessica Karlsson from Sweden carded a second round 67 to rise to five-under overall, with Lora Assad a further two strokes back after an even-par 70. The difference in Dlamini’s scores over the two days was down to her putting. “It was another solid round, but I just didn’t score very well,” Dlamini said. “I hit the ball really well. I didn’t putt like I did in the first round, but I’m still happy with a 69. I could have made more putts. My course management was good as well. “I’m going to have the same approach into the final round and, if I putt better, it will be good enough. My game plan is good; my ball-striking is good. I’m still feeling confident on the greens, but I left quite a few putts short today, I had the lines right but my pace was out. In the beginning I hit them a bit hard so I tried to adjust. But the ball is running on line which is good.” Eaton from Port Shepstone aimed to use her home-ground advantage in round three. “I just feel at home here, with the scorers and volunteers; it’s a really good feeling. I know a lot of people are pulling for me,” said Eaton. “In the past I’ve put too much pressure on myself and it’s been nice this year, because I haven’t been in the media as much. I’m just trying to do my thing and go about my routine like I would anywhere else. It’s been nice, though, having my family here and my twin Nicola watching me.” Eaton had one spectacular par-save during her round at the par three 11th. She was forced to stand in the middle of a bush to take her stance and was able to take a swing at it, and proceeded to bang in the putt from around 10 feet for par. “I misfired at the wrong target and it almost cost me a lot there,” said the Parkview assistant golf director. “I luckily found my ball and had a swing and I was fortunate to be able to chop it out and save par. That was big turning point for me in the round. I felt like things were going my way and I just needed to flow with that.” Despite a moderate first round, Eaton said she feels she is close to recording a really good score. “The conditions were a little easier to begin with today, but it is moving day for us on day two. You need to try and get up a bit further on the leaderboard. We started off early and I just felt good. I knew yesterday I played very well but the score didn’t quite show. I knew if I just continued with that frame of mind it would work, and it did.” As for her approach on Friday with the title on the line, Eaton said the confidence gained from a top joint second place finish in the SA Women’s Masters would serve her well. “Tomorrow I’m just going to keep the same mind-set and belief in myself and try to hit the right shot at the right time. I can’t control other players, just my own game.” Investec Property Fund Order of Merit leader Stacy Bregman ground out a two-over 72 to go with her opening 73. The Canon Ladies Tshwane Open champion finished on five-over in a tie for 24th and made the cut by two. LIVE SCORING - http://sunshineladiestour.com/ Follow us on social media TOURNAMENT TAGS: #SSLadiesChallenge and @golfatsun TWITTER - @SLadiesTour INSTAGRAM - @sunshineladiestour FACEBOOK - Sunshine Ladies Tour Written by and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
Nobuhle Dlamini laid down the gauntlet with a scorching six-under 64 at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club to open up a three-shot lead in the first round of the R400 000 SuperSport Ladies Challenge, presented by Sun International, on Wednesday. The big-hitting Swazi golfer had to recover from a triple-bogey six on the par three-sixth, but she did this in scintillating style, firing nine birdies on a hot and windy day on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast. South African Lora Assad slipped into solo second place on three-under 67, while five players share third on two-under including South Africa’s Kim Williams. Sweden’s Jessica Karlsson, Norwegian Stina Resen, and English duo Rachael Goodall and Kiran Matharu. Still searching for her a Sunshine Ladies Tour breakthrough, the 26-year-old Dlamini has battled slow starts to tournaments this season. Her best opening day came last week at the SA Women’s Masters where she shot 71, and her next lowest first round was a 75. Starting tournaments better is something that Dlamini has been working on, and that work has clearly begun to pay dividends. “I’ve basically adopted a more laid-back approach; a ‘don’t force it’ mentality,” said Dlamini after her round. “I just try to relax a bit more and not stress over each shot too much. If I hit the green that’s great, but if I missed a green, I always felt I could get it up-and-down. That was my approach. I can chip, I can putt, I can hit fairways.” Dlamini was two-under after four holes with birdies at two and four. After dropping to one-over on the signature par-three sixth she responded with a pair of birdies at seven and eight. With just her fourth par of the loop coming at the ninth, an unremarkable one-under 34 took her through the turn. “I made a triple on six when I hit it left in the bush,” said Dlamini. “Unfortunately it wasn’t a hazard so I had to go back to the tee box. I left it just short of the green and two-putted from there. But I still had many holes to recover.” Coming home, Dlamini was flawless with her first gain coming at 10, before three in a row from the par five 12th. Her ninth and final red number of the round came at the par five 16th as she opened up a gap on the field with a closing nine of five-under 30. “I’m quite chuffed with myself for shooting the score I did,” said Dlamini. “I’ve been hitting it well for quite some time now, but not being able to make the putts. Let’s just say, the putting assisted my score a lot. “It got tough on the back nine. There were a lot of changes in club choice, but I always missed in the right positions. I’m quite happy. I gave myself easy lines and I didn’t have many putts with big breaks in them. “I had such a good round today. I hit the ball really well. I had such good control over my shots. I putted well tool. I was always in play as I only missed one fairway. I was just playing fairway-greens, and if the putt drops I’m happy.” Her ball-striking was excellent, but her putting was outstanding. “I had 25 putts today. For me that’s good because I’ve been averaging 33. My pace was good today. These greens suit me. They’re a bit slow, but I adjusted to it during the round. I hit a couple short in the beginning, but got into it as the round went on.” Assad, meanwhile, had an even better ball striking performance which helped her rise into contention. “I didn’t miss a green today. I struggled with the ball bouncing around a bit on the greens because they’re slow,” said the Johannesburg golfer. “I’m playing really well at the moment. I don’t normally play well at the coast, but I was good today. The wind is a bit gusty out there.” With the SuperSport Ladies Challenge being the penultimate event on the Sunshine Ladies Tour 2018 season, Assad wished the tour would continue its growth. “I don’t want the tour to end. It’s my first time playing a full schedule here and it’s a lovely tour. It’s just perfect. I love the people, I love being in South Africa. I haven’t been home for a long time and I really with the tour was longer.” Dlamini – fourth on the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit – is hoping to make up ground on the points leader Stacy Bregman. The five-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Bregman is having her best season to date, but struggled with a first round three-over 73 for a tie for 24th. Bregman has 1635 points at the summit of the Order of Merit from four events, with Dlamini a ways behind with 822 points after five tournaments. LIVE SCORING - http://sunshineladiestour.com/ Follow us on social media TOURNAMENT TAGS: #SSLadiesChallenge and @golfatsun TWITTER - @SLadiesTour INSTAGRAM - @sunshineladiestour FACEBOOK - Sunshine Ladies Tour Written by and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.    
26 February 2018 – Nobuhle Dlamini, Ivanna Samu and Laura Fuenfstueck will want to reel in Stacy Bregman when the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit leader tees off in the R400 000 SuperSport Ladies Challenge, presented by Sun International, at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club on Wednesday. Bregman wants to strengthen her vice grip on the standings in the penultimate event on the Sunshine Ladies Tour before the season-finale Investec South African Women’s Open in Cape Town. The five-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner is enjoying her best season yet and is keen to put more daylight between herself and her nearest rivals. Bregman shot straight to the top of the standings with her victory in the season-opening Canon Ladies Tshwane Open and strung together an impressive sequence of top five finishes to anchor herself in top spot. She leads the standings with 1 635.00 points and, with a R100 000 on the table for the point list winner, Bregman wants to consolidate her lead with another stirring performance before the final event at Westlake Golf Club from 8-10 March. She enjoys a very handy 548.33 point advantage over Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am champion Carrie Park and is 555 points clear of Joburg Ladies Open winner Ashleigh Buhai, but Park is fulfilling her obligations on the Korean LPGA Tour, while Buhai is campaigning on the LPGA Tour. It’s the trio behind Park and Buhai that pose a realistic threat this week. “I have a pretty big cushion and I want to keep it that way,” said the 31-year-old Country Club Johannesburg golfer after her practice round on Tuesday. “I’ve done the math. A win in the Investec South African Open is worth 1 100 points. That brings Ash, Nobby, Ivanna and Laura into play. I’ll need at least 2 000 going to Cape Town to win the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit. A win this week is worth 520 points; second place is 420 points. Those are two spots I’m aiming for.” It is big ask, even for Bregman, especially since she has never set foot on the daunting par-70, Robert Trent Jones designed course before her practice round. “I enjoyed my first look,” Bregman said. “It’s a really good course and it will play really tough when the wind is up. But I love playing new courses, so I’m looking forward to the tournament. The resort is really nice, too, and I am really keen to try the slides in the Water Park.” Fuenstueck became the fifth alternative winner this season and third international champion on the Sunshine Ladies Tour when she annexed victory in the SA Women’s Masters by a single shot and the affable 23-year-old German rookie is a strong contender to go back-to-back at the Wild Coast Sun. “At first it was just about making cuts, but I have definitely raised my expectations,” she said. “I only have conditional status on the Ladies European Tour, so I am hoping for another good week to take momentum to the Investec South African Women’s Open. I have to make this week count.” Dlamini has also been making noticeable strides this season with a sequence of good results. She let the chance of a maiden title slip with a double bogey at 14 at San Lameer, but rose to fourth spot in the standings on the back of a four-way tie for second place and feels that she is within touching distance now of a breakthrough victory. Playing a course with a layout similar to her home course, the Royal Swazi Spa Country Club, could just be what the big-hitting Swazi golfer needs to get inside the winner’s circle. “I’m there at the door, knocking all the time,” said Dlamini. “It’s frustrating, but I am just staying really patient. If you knock long enough, the door has to open.” The local favourite Melissa Eaton found herself neatly tucked into the runners-up cluster in the SA Women’s Masters and also feels she’s edging closer to a big payday. “To be honest, I was ready to pack it in after a disastrous back nine in final round of the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am,” she said. “I knew the only positive I could take away was learning the tough lesson it taught me. So I didn’t allow my emotions to get the better of me. I came back strong and I am taking a lot of positive energy into the SuperSport Ladies Challenge this week.” LIVE SCORING - http://sunshineladiestour.com/ Follow us on social media TOURNAMENT TAGS: #SSLadiesChallenge and @golfatsun TWITTER - @SLadiesTour INSTAGRAM - @sunshineladiestour FACEBOOK - Sunshine Ladies Tour Written by and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie Laura Fuenfstueck produced a stunning fightback to win the SA Women’s Masters at San Lameer Country Club on Saturday. The German golfer staved off South African Lejan Lewthwaite, Nobuhle Dlamini from Swaziland and 18-year-old Scottish amateur Shannon McWilliam to claim a maiden victory in just her fifth start in the pro ranks. The 23-year-old Fuenfstueck took a big leap towards the breakthrough victory when she seized the outright lead with a second round 69. She began the final day with a handy two-shot cushion over Gemma Batty – another member of the visiting Scottish Golf Women’s National Squad – while Port Shepstone golfer Melissa Eaton and Lewthwaite were three shots back and Dlamini lagged five off the pace. Fuenfstueck began with two solid pars, but backpedalled fast with double bogeys at three and six, where her ball stayed up in one of the tall palm trees, and further bogeys at nine and 10 dropped her to one-over. “I was so fortunate to have Rachel (Rossel – Switzerland) on the bag,” said Fuenfstueck. “She missed the cut and she immediately offered to take the bag. I played decent golf and she kept me going. I wasn’t playing badly; I just didn’t hit it close enough. So I stayed patient in the wind and tried to hit some good shots.” Dlamini, meanwhile, racked up three successive birdies from the eighth to move to two-under, but a double bogey at 15 put paid to the big-hitting Swazi golfer’s maiden title hopes. She parred her way home and signed for a 72 to set the clubhouse target at even-par 216. Lewthwaite offset bogeys at six and nine with birdies at seven and 13, but bogeyed both short holes on the back nine. The Benoni golfer carded a 74 to join Dlamini in the clubhouse and McWilliam made it three on level par when she returned a 73. Fuenfstueck was six-over after 11 holes, but showed great courage to fight her way back into contention with birdies at 12 and 14. A bogey at 15 and par at 16 put her in a three-way tie for second with two holes to play. “I hit a great tee shot at 17 and a good second and I laid it up where I wanted to,” Fuenfstueck said. “I had a good yardage in and I knew exactly where I wanted to hit it. The shot came out perfect. I had a 15-footer left for birdie and I saw the line clearly. “I had a one shot lead, but still had 18 to go. I had a bogey finish in the second round in the back of my mind, so I just tried to hit two good shots into the green. My approach landed right at the back of the green, but my lag-putting was really good this week and didn’t let me down. It was a huge relief to tap-in for the win, and not have to stand over another three-foot putt.” Fuenfstueck said a top 10 finish in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am changed her mind-set. “When I came out here, all I wanted was to gain experience and to make the cut,” she said. “I was really happy when I made my first cut in the Canon Ladies Tshwane Open and I improved every week. After Fancourt I thought that I shouldn’t focus on the cut anymore; I should raise my expectations. It looks like that was the right move.” Fuenfstueck will join the field next week in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge, presented by Sun International, at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club and finish the season in Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club from 8-10 March. “I hope I have another good week at the Wild Coast to take momentum to Westlake,” she said. “I only have conditional status on the Ladies European Tour, so I have to make the last event count for me in the rankings. But first things first; we’re going to party tonight.” McWilliam, meanwhile, will be gunning for a hat-trick of trophies at the Wild Coast Sun. The 18-year-old, who won the Border Championship by three strokes at East London Golf Club last week, lifted the Sally Little Trophy as the Leading Amateur in the SA Women’s Masters. LIVE SCORING - http://sunshineladiestour.com/ Follow us on social media TWITTER - @SLadiesTour / @womensmastersSA INSTAGRAM - @sunshineladiestour @sawomensmasters FACEBOOK - Sunshine Ladies Tour / SA Womens Masters South African Women’s Masters Hashtag - #sawomensmasters Written by and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
Breezy conditions made for difficult scoring at San Lameer Country Club, but Germany’s Laura Fuenfstueck put together a well-constructed 69 to top the second round leaderboard in the SA Women’s Masters on Friday. The 23-year-old Fuenfstueck opened up a two shot cushion on five-under 139 over Scottish amateur Gemma Batty and she finished three strokes clear of South African duo Lejan Lewthwaite and Melissa Eaton. The Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie was not alone in struggling in the wind. Only 12 players in the field of 78 managed to break par and just seven finished in red numbers, but Fuenfstueck knows she is in a strong position heading into the last day. “The day started nicely again, but the wind came up and it makes a big difference to this course,” she said. “I hit all the fairways and I positioned myself really well into the greens. But you’re hitting it uphill and downhill on uneven lies and the course is so tight. “You have to keep it in play to score and it’s tough to do in the wind. I did make some great decisions with my club selection and I putted really well. The wind makes it really difficult, though, to get near the pins. I had a poor finish, but the closing holes are really tough. Even pars feel like a birdies.” Fuenfstueck travelled to South Africa to gain competitive experience on the Sunshine Ladies Tour before she starts her season on the Ladies European Tour (LET) and LET Access Series. “I started at the Canon Ladies Tshwane Open and tied for 23rd, and last week I finished 10th in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am. Now I’m in the lead and we’ll see where I finish. I’m just really happy with how much my game has improved and how much I’ve learned.” Batty carded a two-under 70 and was over the moon to find herself in second place after 36 holes. “I never expected to be at the front of the field; it’s all new experiences for me,” said the 23-year-oold Scottish Golf Women’s National Squad player. “I’m just going to play shot-for-shot and enjoy the experience, because it’s a fantastic opportunity. I don’t drive it tremendously far, but I’m pretty straight, so I’m really enjoying this course.” Batty could become the first amateur to win on the Sunshine Ladies Tour since Ashleigh Buhai (nee Simon) won the South African Women’s Open at Durban Country Club in 2007, but not if Lewthwaite has anything to say about the outcome. The Benoni golfer won the Amateur title in 2016 with a second place finish and clocked a top 10 finish last year. “I would like to win, yes,” said Lewthwaite. “The first four weeks was a struggle but I’ve turned a corner and I had a great time out there the last two days. If I can birdie the par fives and keep the bogeys off my card in the final round, I can do it.” Eaton was happy to fly below the radar as she quietly worked her way up the leaderboard with five birdies and two bogeys, but don’t be surprised if the crowd favourite walks in the winning putt at 18 for a second Sunshine Ladies Tour title. “It was nice to come home and spent time with the family and friends and not to have all the media attention as I had in the past,” she said. “I played really solid today and if I can keep it going, and the wind shows up again, I could be right up there coming down the 18th on Saturday afternoon.” LIVE SCORING - http://sunshineladiestour.com/ Follow us on social media TWITTER - @SLadiesTour / @womensmastersSA INSTAGRAM - @sunshineladiestour @sawomensmasters FACEBOOK - Sunshine Ladies Tour / SA Womens Masters South African Women’s Masters Hashtag - #sawomensmasters Written by and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.

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