13th February 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Pace makes quiet start in Oz
While Nicole Garcia, Ashleigh Simon and Stacy Bregman go head-to-head in the final round of the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Glendower Golf Club on Friday, compatriotÂ Lee-Anne PaceÂ will aim to shift gears in theRACV Ladies MastersÂ in Australia.
The world number 29 made a quiet start in the Ladies European TourÂ season-opener with a one-over-par 73 RACV Royal Pines on the Gold Coast.
Â The Investec Cup for Ladies champion finished in a tie for 22ndÂ with former SA Womenâ€™s Open champion, Marianne Skarpnord from Norway, among others and lags four off the pace from Australian teenager Su-Huyn Oh and Eun Woo Choi from Korea.
The leading pair finished one stroke clear of English duo Holly Clyburn and Charley Hull, Norwayâ€™s Caroline Martens and 2009 champion Katherine Kirk from Australia.
Paceâ€™s compatriot Connie Chen carded an opening three over 75.
First Round Scores (top 10 plus SA)
69 â€“ Eun Woo Choi (KOR), Su-Hyun Oh (AUS)
70 â€“ Katherine Kirk (AUS), Caroline Martens (NOR) , Holly Clyburn (ENG) , Charley Hull (ENG)
71 â€“ Florentyna Parker (ENG) , Lorie Kane (CAN) , Camilla Lennarth (SWE) , Hannah Green (AUS) , Rebecca Artis (AUS) , Pennapa Plusawath (THA)
73 â€“ Lee-Anne Pace (RSA)
75 â€“ Connie Chen (RSA)
To view the scoring, visit http://alpg.com.au/tournament.php?id=2379&pid=1150&sec=lb
PHOTO â€“ Lee-Anne; credit Catherine Kotze / SASPA
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the WPGA and Sunshine Ladies Tour.
12th February 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
â€˜Oven Putterâ€ puts Garcia in front
Nicole Garcia has the perfect opportunity to make a big play for a maiden pro title after she opened up a big gap on the chasing pack with a five-under-par 67 in the first round of the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies on Thursday.
The recent Ladies European Tour graduate was level at the turn, but then her â€˜Oven Putterâ€™ got hot and she scorched the back nine at Glendower Golf Club in 31 strokes.
Garcia notched three birdies and an eagle-three at the 15th to put a useful three stroke cushion between herself and defending champion Ashleigh Simon, four-time European Tour winner Rebecca Hudson from Britain and reigning Sanlam SA Womenâ€™s Amateur champion, Ivanna Samu.
â€œI guess that putter is like any typical oven; it just needed some time to warm up,â€ Garcia said.
The putter in question was specifically designed for Garcia by Nike during the 2014 US Womenâ€™s Open, but she never used it.Â The 24-year-old Ebotse player threw the putter in the bag when she left for Morocco in December last year, though, and it served her equally well at the Ladies European Tourâ€™s Q-School.
She won the First Stage Qualifier and earned full privileges for 2015 with a fifth place finish at Final Stage.
Garcia hit it close on 11 and tapped in for a birdie, boxed a 20-footer at the par-five 13th for another gain and hit a drive and a four-iron to three feet and rolled in the putt for eagle at 15. She drained a two-footer at the 16th for birdie number three before she parred her way home.
Simon is taking a three-week break from the LPGA Tour to support the Sunshine Ladies Tour.
The 25-year-old only arrived on home soil on Wednesday and was a little frustrated after five birdies and three drops at her home course.
â€œI felt it should have been better, but I am glad I made those birdies coming home to finish under par,â€ said Simon, a three-time winner in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies last season.
â€œI felt fine at the start of the round, but I hit a wall midway down the back nine. I am only three off the pace, so I will be ready to challenge after a good nightâ€™s rest.â€
Hudson won the South African Womenâ€™s Open in 2006 and loves to compete in South Africa.
â€œI think South Africa has the monopoly on all the best courses in the world, and we get to play most of them,â€ the Brit said. â€œI mean, from Lost City to Glendower to Fancourt and Royal Cape. Itâ€™s such a privilege to come out here and play the Sunshine Ladies Tour.
â€œI havenâ€™t played since December, but Iâ€™m happy that my short game is getting sharper.â€
Samu was thrilled with her fast start at Glendower, although she too, kept her expectations in check.
â€œThis is a huge learning curve for me, but it is really nice to be among the frontrunners,â€ said the 16-year-old Ruimsig junior.Â â€œI just want to absorb as much as possible and learn as much as I can about course management. Itâ€™s great to watch the pros plot their way around Glendower; positioning is everything at this course.â€
Newly-crowned Sun International Ladies Challenge champion Stacy Bregman opened with a 71 and shares fifth with Bryanston amateur Kaleigh Telfer.
The 16-year-old, who became the first Olympian to represent South Africa at the Summer Youth Olympics alongside Kyle McClatchie last year, was flawless through the front nine.Â She led the field at three under through the turn, but found the back nine much tougher.
â€œThe back-to-back bogeys at the first and second really hurt me, but I managed to erase two more bogeys with birdies to limit the damage,â€ Telfer said.
The Sun International Ladies Challenge and Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Glendower forms part of the seven-leg Sunshine Ladies Tour, which culminates from March 20-22 with the end-of-season Investec Cup for Ladies, which boasts a R100,000 prize fund and R600,000 bonus pool.
PHOTO â€“ Nicole Garcia; credit Catherine Kotze / SASPA.
| Sunshine Ladies Tour
Simon targets Investec Cup double
She only touched down on home soil this morning, but South Africaâ€™s Ashleigh Simon is targeting a successful title defence at the Chase to Investec Cup for Ladies, which tees off at Glendower Golf Club on Thursday.
â€œI am a little jet-lagged, but I am battle ready,â€ Simon announced. â€œMy game is in good shape and Iâ€™m feeling confident. I love competing at Glendower. I popped in this morning to register and get a yardage book and it just felt great to be home.â€
The big-hitting Simon defeated newly crowned Sun International Ladies Challenge champion Stacy Lee Bregman by four strokes to notch her first title on the 2014 Sunshine Ladies Tour at her home course 12 months ago.
She added the weather-shortened Ladies Tshwane Open title a few days later and closed out a productive three week stint at home with a Sunshine Ladies Tour hat-trick in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Blue Valley.
Simon knows she needs a big finish at Glendower to score points in the Chase to the 2015 Ladies Investec Cup.
Current number one Lee-Anne Pace leads the standings on 400 points after her play-off triumph in the Cell C SA Womenâ€™s Open at San Lameer in October last year.Â However, the LPGA Tour winner missed the Sun International Ladies Challenge and is competing in the RACV Ladies Masters in Australia this week.Â Bregman lags just 97 points behind Pace after her one-stroke triumph at the Lost City Golf Course on Tuesday.
Simon is well behind the eighth ball, having earned just 28 points for a disappointing joint 60th place in the SA Womenâ€™s Open.
â€œI know I need to pull out all the stops this week and Iâ€™m going to give it all Iâ€™ve got,â€ Simon said.Â â€œAlthough I led the Chase to the Investec Cup last year, I couldnâ€™t play the final event and I want to put myself in the running again this year.
â€œA good performance this week will put me right where I need to be to challenge in the Chase to the 2015 Ladies Investec Cup.â€
The 25-year-old will certainly be tough to beat in her back-yard.Â Simon turned professional on the back of a very successful amateur career and honed her craft at Glendower, where she also holds honorary membership.
â€œItâ€™s a clichÃ©, but I know the course like the back of my hand,â€ she said.Â â€œI just love this layout. At any course I would be worried that I didnâ€™t have time for a practice round, but I could play Glendower in my sleep. I just need to warm up nicely and get off to a good start. Iâ€™m definitely ready to challenge.â€
Bregman is a strong contender to deny Simon, though.Â She opened with a 71 in the first round last year, but chased Simon to the finish line and after her victory at Sun City, her confidence is riding high.
Former Symetra Tour winner Melissa Eaton narrowly missed out on forcing Bregman into a play-off at the Lost City, while Nelspruit rookie Monja Richards made an impressive debut with a third place tie at Sun City.
Nicole Garcia and two-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Monique Smit both closed with 71s at Lost City and cannot be discounted, while Englandâ€™s Charlotte Ellis and 2014 Chase to the Investec Cup Houghton winner Kim Williams could be the dark horses to watch at Glendower.
PHOTO â€“ Ashleigh Simon; credit Catherine Kotze / SASPA
| Sunshine Ladies Tour
Bregman conquers Lost City
South Africaâ€™s Stacy-Lee Bregman held off Melissa Eaton and Monja Richards in a dramatic final round tussle to win the first Sunshine Ladies Tour title of 2015 when she claimed the Sun International Ladies Challenge at Lost City on Tuesday.
Unlike her sublime march to a runaway victory in the Zambia Ladies Open in March last year, the seasoned professional was made to work hard in a thrilling skirmish from start to finish for a one stroke victory on one-over-par 145 at the sun-drenched Pilansberg course.
Bregman only took the outright lead at the 16th and had to regroup after a drop at the next hole, but a birdie finish for 74 guaranteed her first podium finish in this yearâ€™s Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies.
Bregman opted out of the Ladies European Tour leg in Australasia to give herself the chance to make the season-finale Investec Cup for Ladies and was thrilled to get her campaign off a good start.
â€œIâ€™ve given myself a good start and thatâ€™s all I wanted,â€ Bregman said.Â â€œI short-sided myself last year when I played Australia. I didnâ€™t play enough events and missed the top 10 that qualified by one agonising spot. This year we have more prize money, new events and the R600,000 bonus-pool for the Investec Cup, so I intend to make the grade.â€
While she was thrilled with the victory, Bregman admitted her game still needs some work.
â€œI worked on my long game during the break, but I need a can of Q-20 to really get the rust off,â€ she said. â€œBut this was as good a start as I could have hoped for.â€
Bregman and Richards shared the first round lead on 71, while former Symetra Tour winner Eaton lurked just two off the pace.
Against all expectations, Richards led the field at the turn on even-par, while Bregman had to recoup after three bogeys and a clutch of missed opportunities.Â She was tied for second with Eaton on two over, but the Nelspruit rookie triple-bogeyed the par-four 12th and opened the door for Bregman, who drew on all her experience on the Ladies European Tour to claw her way to the front.
â€œI hit it stiff at the 10th for a tap-in birdie and chipped it close at the 11th for another birdie, but then I bogeyed the 12th and 13th,â€ Bregman said.Â â€œI knew I needed to find something to pull away from Melissa, but the putts wouldnâ€™t drop. I lipped out for a birdie at the 14th and shaved the edge of the hole for another miss at 15, but at the 16th, I finally knocked in a six-footer for birdie to pull one shot clear.â€
She wasted the gain with a bad tee shot at the 17th, though, and with no option but to chip out from the fairway bunker, she flew a superb six-iron to eight feet.
â€œI missed the putt for par and knew it was down to the 18th, but it was more than 40 degrees out there and I was not in the mood for a play-off.â€ she said.Â â€œI hit it straight down the fairway and hit a hybrid just short of the green .The pin was tucked right at the back, but I got my chip to eight feet and boxed the putt.
â€œIt feels really good to win and I canâ€™t wait to get going in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Glendower on Thursday.â€
One manâ€™s joy is another manâ€™s sorrow and in this case, it was Eaton who paid the price of trying to go for the green at the 18th.
The Port Shepstone proâ€™s approach disappeared in the reeds protecting the right fairway and resulted in a penalty drop. She saved par, though, and signed for a 73 to finish one stroke ahead of Richards (76) and fellow Ladies European Tour graduate Nicole Garcia (71).
The leading amateur was Shawnelle de Lange, the only South African amateur to make the cut in the Cell C SA Womenâ€™s Open at San Lameer in September last year.
The Fochville golfer opened with a disappointing 81, but turned a lesson on how to properly use a yardage book from two-time Sunshine Tour winner Monique Smit into a valuable 73 to finish 12th on 10-over-par 154.
PHOTO â€“ Sun International Ladies Challenge champion, Stacy-Lee Bregman; credit Catherine Kotze / SASPA