7th April 2021 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Gorlei soars to Cape Town Ladies Open summit
CAPE TOWN, 7 April 2021 – Milnerton golfer Cara Gorlei topped a crowded leaderboard after the first day of a new Sunshine Ladies Tour season as her three-under-par round of 71 earned her a one-shot lead in the Cape Town Ladies Open on Wednesday.
Her local knowledge came into good use and Gorlei showed her intent with a flying start, opening with a birdie at Royal Cape Golf Club and notching another at the par five third.
She cancelled two bogeys with another brace of birdies, but the testing conditions on the back nine offered fewer opportunities to score. A fifth birdie on the par-five 16th edged the 25-year-old to a slim advantage over Scotland’s Rachel Taylor.
Thrilled to take the early lead, Gorlei is unlikely to get too comfortable with 36 holes to go.
Apart from Taylor on her heels, Manon Gidali from France, rookie Nadia van der Westhuizen and GolfRSA’s No 1 ranked amateur Caitlyn Macnab lurk at level-par, while a further six players assembled on one-over. Even defending champion Lee-Anne Pace, who suffered an untimely double bogey on the short 15th hole, poses a threat at two-over.
Gorlei closed the door on a stellar amateur career in 2020 after four years at the University of Arkansas. It was during this stretch that she also won the prestigious South African Women’s Amateur Championship.
She came close to a maiden win during her pro debut on the Sunshine Ladies Tour and a runner-up finish in the SA Women’s Masters helped the Capetonian to close out her rookie season ranked ninth in the Investec Order of Merit.
“Four years playing on the Arkansas Razorbacks Golf Team to convince me that I have what it takes to pursue a career in golf and making a strong start on the Sunshine Ladies Tour just further strengthened my resolve to take my game to the next level,” Gorlei said.
“I was very lucky that I didn’t have to press pause on my 2020 season due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I was able to get on an expatriate flight to the United States and I spent five months competing on the Womens All Pro Tour and the Symetra Tour. I gained so much insight and experience competing abroad and hopefully I can put it all into practice this season to get into the winner’s circle.”
Taylor, meanwhile, was pleased as punch with her first competitive round on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.
“I decided to join some of my fellow Ladies European Tour Access Series campaigners and spend some time in the sun,” said the Glaswegian. “It’s really cold back home and I don’t enjoy the cold, so I thought I’d make my first trip to South Africa and have some fun before the season kicks off in Europe. I had no idea I had done so well
“I just made three pretty standard birdies going out. You know, fairway, green, putt … nothing fancy. It was a wee bit windier coming home. I dropped a shot on the sixth, but that happens. I was just enjoying myself and looked what happened. I’m really quite pleased about that.”
Macnab, who cemented her No 1 billing with two provincial victories since defending her SA Women’s Amateur title in February, cancelled a trio of birdies with three bogeys for a level-par round, but the Serengeti golfer hopes to step it up over the next 36 holes.
“I could have been better, but I struggled a little bit with the driver,” said the 19-year-old GolfRSA Elite Squad member. “You have to hit fairways on this course to position yourself for your shots into the green. I made a few putts and a lot of good swings, but there is definitely room for improvement.”
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20th February 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Dark horse Berger banking on fast start at San Lameer
19 February 2019 – There will be a dark horse lurking in the form of Brittney-Fay Berger when the South African Women’s Masters tees off at San Lameer Country Club on Thursday.
The 18-year-old Kloof Country Club member will be making just her fourth start as a golf professional, but has already notched up three top-25 finishes in as many events.
With the Sunshine Ladies Tour proving to be the perfect breeding ground for tomorrow’s talent, Berger is among a new generation of young talent ready to cut their teeth on the local scene.
In 2017, former South African number one ranked amateur Carrie Park picked up her maiden Sunshine Ladies Tour title in the SA Women’s Masters. She is now plying her trade on the lucrative Korean LPGA Tour.
Germany’s Laura Fuenfstueck, meanwhile, tasted victory last year in the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality, which paved her path to playing on to the Ladies European Tour this year.
“It’s been a bit different playing for money. I’ve been getting used to it though, and it’s really nice to have so many tournaments in a row like this. It gets a bit tiring, but if you manage your travelling it’s not too bad,” said Berger.
“It’s quite nice that I’m back home, I got back last night from the Dimension Data Challenge. I feel much better going into this week. I’m really enjoying it and playing in all these events.”
Showing little signs of nerves in her first event in the paid ranks, Berger finished 24th at the Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open in Irene at the end of January. A week later at the Serengeti Team Championship, she paired up with fellow rookie Casandra Hall as the duo finished tenth.
“It was amazing, and I was so happy to make the cut in my first start. That was my goal going at the start of the Sunshine Ladies Tour. I had a disappointing last round, but I was just happy to make the cut and earn some money. Once I made the cut, I just went for it on the last day – it didn’t work out but I was still really happy with my result. It makes it a bit easier for me – getting used to the players and how things are run.”
On Sunday last week in George a 16th place finish followed.
“I played at George Golf Club before, but I had never played the Outeniqua Course at Fancourt. So going into the last round, I was a bit blind. So I was happy with how it went and to be improving each week.”
The KwaZulu-Natal native could be a good bet for a first top-10 or better on the tricky and tight San Lameer layout.
“Being back home now is really nice as I know the courses,” said Berger. “I like San Lameer. It’s a very tricky course, especially when the wind comes up. I played there a couple times. I played in the ladies event there last year as an amateur and I didn’t make the cut. I’m hoping to improve on that.”
In fact, Berger has put her studies in medicine on hold to pursue her career in golf.
Few teenagers are faced with massive life decisions right after school, but it’s about living a life without regret she explained.
“I really wanted to study medicine, but it is a seven-year course so once I start there’s no real time for golf. Also I would really like to make golf my career. I decided to give myself a couple years – if I make it I’ll carry on and if I don’t I’m still not too old and I can go back and study. If I left the golf until later I might end up regretting not having tried it. It’s just trying to see if I’m good enough.
“I’m just thinking about the next five years or so. If I make quite a bit of money and I can afford to live off that, then I’ll carry on.”
There were also a host of new faces in George last week including Scotland’s Gabrielle MacDonald who made her debut on tour with an impressive sixth place finish, just five shots behind winner Nobuhle Dlamini.
MacDonald, a former member of the Scottish Golf Women’s National Squad, will hope to keep up the trend of young Scottish golfers who tend to excel on SA fairways, like GolfRSA African Amateur Champion Euan Walker.
Fellow Scottish Golf Women’s National Squad member Hannah McCook is another debutant heading to San Lameer.
The 25-year-old Gleneagles Country Club member, playing last year as an amateur, missed the cut in the SA Women’s Masters, but produced a solid top-15 finish at the Wild Coast a week later in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge. McCook could well feature this week knowing what to expect this time around on the windy south coast – much improved conditions from her native Scotland.
“Coming out this year as a professional is quite exciting. We play in the wind a lot at home, and playing here in the warmer temperatures made it a lot easier,” said the Nethy Bridge resident, who works part-time in housekeeping at a residential centre back home.
Another international hoping to make her presence felt will be Pasqualle Coffa from the Netherlands. The Eindhovensche Golf member was in contention for the first two rounds last week in George after rounds of 74 and 70, but was undone by a closing 77 to finish on five-over. Despite her disappointing third round, she finished only seven shots behind in 11th position on her own.
The former Dutch International Open champion could indeed be in contention in the next few weeks as she prepares for a season on the Ladies European Tour Access Series.
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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
28th January 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
SA’s Best primed for Glory Battle at Westlake
28 January 2019 – Ashleigh Buhai’s seven-year wait for a third Ladies European Tour (LET) title ended in Cape Town when she won the Investec South African Women’s Open on the Sunshine Ladies Tour last March.
South Africa’s leading international golfer became the third player to achieve a hat-trick of triumphs and she will take up her title defence when the R2-million LET co-sanctioned showpiece returns to Westlake Golf Club from 14-16 March.
The world number 116 hopes to join Lee-Anne Pace with four victories, but believes it will be a tougher task to reach the winner’s circle this year.
“When Investec took up the title sponsorship last year and put the Investec South African Women’s Open back on the LET schedule, the interest in the event really sparked and the tournament drew a strong field of international golfers,” said Buhai.
“I really had to work for the win and now that this year’s Sunshine Ladies Tour has two new events – the Jabra Ladies Classic at Glendower and the Team Championship at Serengeti – the depth of the field will be even stronger.
“With spots into two LET events, courtesy of the Investec South African Women’s Open and the Jabra Ladies Classic, we can expect an even bigger presence of LET players. Several Sunshine Ladies Tour players like Lejan Lewthwaite and Nobuhle Dlamini have also made huge strides over the last 12 months. Lee-Anne Pace and Stacy Bregman are always dangerous and, if you factor in the international entries, the level of competition will be even higher.
“I am coming back with the goal of defending the title, but it won’t be a walk in the park. I will have to bring my A-game to Westlake to finish in front.”
Pace will also be back, chasing title number five, and Bregman, now the third highest ranked South African in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings at number 306, is targeting a maiden win.
“The Investec South African Women’s Open trophy is definitely on my bucket list,” said the five-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion and last year’s Investec Property Fund Order of Merit winner.
“I didn’t practice much ahead of the first event on the LET in Abu Dhabi and I got the bad end of the draw for the first two days, so I was really pleased to finish in the top 16. I plan to defend at the Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open at the end of January and then I am heading to Australia.
“I will be playing four events, including the Australian Women’s Open and I hope to build up some good form for Westlake. The Investec South African Women’s Open is the one title we all aspire to win and I came close last year. I went low on the final day to finish fourth and this year, I’m aiming for the winner’s circle.”
The Investec South African Women’s Open has enjoyed the support of the City of Cape Town since regaining co-sanctioned status last year and moving to the Mother City.
Dan Plato, Executive Mayor of Cape Town, said, “In December last year, Cape Town was named as the ‘World’s Leading Festival and Events Destination’ at the World Tourism Awards. Being able to host fantastic sporting events such as the Investec SA Women’s Open further confirms why we are able to celebrate this title.
“Big events being held in Cape Town mean fantastic entertainment for our residents and visitors, and at the same time bring with them skills development and job creation opportunities for our communities. I want to wish the event organisers and all participants a successful event and I’m looking forward to seeing Cape Town come out to support our South African sporting stars.”
The tournament promoter, Lesley Copeman from World Sports Promotions, applauded Investec and the City of Cape Town for their continued investment in the women’s professional game and commitment to women’s golf development.
“The South Africa Women’s Open is the showpiece of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and deserves strong, committed sponsors like Investec and the City of Cape Town,” Copeman said. “However, Investec and the City of Cape Town have also invested in the growth of women’s golf through their continued support of the women’s professional circuit.
“Since the Sunshine Ladies Tour launched in 2014, Investec has sponsored several events and initiatives, while the City of Cape Town joined the circuit in 2015 with the Cape Town Ladies Open at Royal Cape Golf Club. The City of Cape Town also extended its support and hosted the South African Women’s Masters at Rondebosch Golf Club in 2017 and last year, the City of Cape Town fully supported our decision to take the SA Women’s Masters to San Lameer and to bring the crown jewel of the Sunshine Ladies Tour circuit to Westlake.
“In addition, Investec added a R100 000 incentive last year for the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit winner. This kind of commitment is a strong endorsement of the exciting growth and development of the women’s professional game in South Africa.”
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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
20th February 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Red-hot Bregman brimming with confidence at SA Women’s Masters
Five-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Stacy Bregman is brimming with confidence as she heads to the South African Women’s Masters starting on Thursday at San Lameer Country Club on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast.
Bregman had no sooner wrapped up a second place finish in the Dimension Data Pro-Am on Sunday, when she declared herself ready to challenge for the SA Women’s Masters title.
“I love the south coast and I always play well at San Lameer,” said the current Investec Property Fund Order of Merit leader. “I haven’t been to Durban in a year, so I am looking forward to go back.
“We had the SA Women’s Open in KwaZulu-Natal for the last five years, but when it switched with the SA Women’s Masters and moved to Cape Town, we were really worried that we would lose the SA Women’s Masters after it took eight years to get it back on the schedule.
“You can imagine how happy we were when we heard that the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality would continue to support the Sunshine Ladies Tour and become the sponsor for the SA Women’s Masters.”
The field will compete for a purse of R350 000 purse and important points in the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit race.
To go with her triumph in the first event of the season – the Canon Ladies Tshwane Open – the 31-year-old Ladies European Tour campaigner also has runner-up finishes in the Joburg Ladies Open and the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am. In fact, her worst finish to date was fourth at the Cape Town Ladies Open.
It’s no surprise then, that Bregman has opened a gap at the summit of the money list with 1 635 points after four tournaments.
Carrie Park is second after her incredible nine-shot victory at the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am on Sunday, but the defending champion won’t pose a threat as she returns to her native Korea this week.
It’s likely that Bregman will improve her lead at the top of the order of merit this week, as third placed Ashleigh Buhai and Lee-Anne Pace, who won the SA Women’s Open three successive times at San Lameer, are both abroad, campaigning on the LPGA Tour.
Fourth-placed Ivanna Samu will be in action, though, and the 19-year-old has been trending towards a maiden win.
But Bregman is feeling confident this could be her week.
Despite not realistically challenging Park for the win in George on the weekend, Bregman was nonetheless pleased with another good result. “It was great to play with the amateurs this week and also with the Sunshine Tour boys.
“I love George Golf Club; it’s like a hidden gem. I didn’t play badly at all; I just couldn’t get anything going until a really strong finish on the back nine at Outeniqua on Sunday. But that has given me a lot of confidence coming to San Lameer this week.”
Bregman has been working hard on her game in the off-season with her new coach Grant Veenstra, and has made a few minor adjustments to her swing and other aspects of her game.
“I can see the changes starting to yield results and it’s been a really good start for me this year,” she said. “It means a lot to top the money list; it shows I’ve been playing really good golf this season and that I have been really consistent. All the changes I’ve been making, they’ve been paying off.
“It helps me a lot to play on the Sunshine Ladies Tour. I joined Grant at the start of the season and we’ve been tweaking my swing and some other things. It’s satisfying to know I’m working on the right things when I put those changes under competitive stress and I come away with positive results. It also gives me confidence for the main tour.”
To have an order of merit is a big achievement in local women’s golf according to Bregman.
“I think it’s very important because the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit shows that you have a tour,” she said. “The Order of Merit over the last five years tells who how well the Sunshine Ladies Tour is coming along.
“You can also see who consistently plays well and how the young pros and the rookie are coming through the ranks. The competition is just very strong and I think it’s good for the future growth of the game on SA shores.”
After the SA Women’s Masters, there will be another event in KwaZulu-Natal – the SuperSport Ladies Challenge presented by Sun International will be held at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club. Then it is on to Cape Town for the season-finale Investec South African Women’s Open, which is co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour.
The prize money of R2-million is the biggest purse on the Sunshine Ladies Tour since 2014.
With Bregman gunning for the Order of Merit title, victory in the South African Women’s Masters will put her in a very good position to win the money list.
A strong finish in the Investec South African Women’s Open will also provide the perfect springboard for her 2018 Ladies European Tour season.
“I’m so happy that it’s co-sanctioned again,” said Bregman. “I plan to play quite a number of events on the Symetra Tour in the United States this year, but I definitely want to look after my Ladies European Tour card. It really helps me with my Ladies European Tour schedule to have the first event here in South Africa. And the guys have got the SA Open as a co-sanctioned event and so should the women. I just hope it keeps growing.”
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Written by and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
16th March 2017 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
SA five forge straight into international action
The dust barely settled on the 2017 Sunshine Ladies Tour but there is no rest for the countryâ€™s top ranked players, who are geared for action on the Ladies European Tour in China and LPGA Tour in the United States this week.
Stacy Bregman and Nicole Garcia hope to ride the momentum gained over the last 12 weeks to a solid start on the 2017 Ladies European Tour in China, while Lee-Anne Pace and Ashleigh Buhai will star in the Bank of Hope Founders CupÂ in Arizona alongside compatriot Paula Reto.
Bregman and Garcia are the only South Africans lining up the 126-strong field for the SGF67 World Ladies Championship by SBS, which tees off at Mission Hills Resort Haikou in Hainan on Friday.
The field for 54-hole tri-sanctioned championship comprises 40 players each from the Ladies European Tour (LET), the China LPGA Tour and the Korean LPGA, as well as six sponsor invitations.
â€œIâ€™m definitely excited to come back to the Blackstone course,â€ Bregman said.
â€œIâ€™ve played a couple of the 10 courses here at Mission Hills, but Iâ€™ve always found the Blackstone the most challenging. Itâ€™s a shot-makerâ€™s course and accuracy is at a premium, especially your positioning off the tees.
The Investec Property player tied for 22nd in her World Ladies Championship debut in 2013. However, she missed the cut in 2015 and Garcia missed in 2016.
â€œNicole and I are both primed to make a strong start to build on,â€ said Bregman. â€œI think the Sunshine Ladies Tour definitely has us at an advantage. Weâ€™ve played a lot of golf at a variety of different courses and our games are sharp. Weâ€™ve also given ourselves enough time this year as opposed to two years ago. Weâ€™ve had the time to shake off the jetlag, adapt to the conditions and we are fighting fit to start on Friday.â€
Garcia headed straight to China on the back of a third place finish in the Sunshine Ladies Tour season-finale at Millvale Private Retreat on Sunday.
Riding the confidence of placing fourth overall in the 2017 Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies standings, Garcia agreed with Bregmanâ€™s assessment of the course and hopes her accuracy off the tee pays off this week.
â€œI think the Blackstone Course compares well to the Lost City or Millvale Private Retreat in terms of course management,â€ said the Benoni golfer. â€œThe course was constructed over an old lava field. Errant tee shots will disappear in the rocks. You have to play percentage golf to score. Itâ€™s definitely a great test of golf.â€
Meanwhile Buhai and Pace â€“ both two-time winners on the local circuit this season â€“ and Reto joins the action in the fifth LPGA Tour event, starting on Thursday at the Wildfire Golf Club in Phoenix.
Itâ€™s the second event of the season for 2017 Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies winner Buhai, who missed the cut in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open, while Pace and Reto are both heading into their third start of the season.
Investec Propertyâ€™s Pace tied for 32nd in the Honda LPGA Thailand and finished 58th in the HSCB Womenâ€™s Champions in Singapore, while Reto missed the cut in Australia after a season-opening tie for 47th in the Pure Silk Bahamas LPGA Classic.
With the first Major for 2017 â€“ the ANA Inspiration in California at the end of March â€“ just two weeks away, the world-beaters have all shown up in Phoenix and the South African trio will have their work cut out going up against the likes of world number one Lydia Ko, Lexi Thompson, Brittany Lincicome, world number 10 and defending champion Sei Young Kim, as well as Inbee Park, who won the HSBC Womenâ€™s Champions a fortnight ago.
PHOTO â€“ Stacy Bregman; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.
1st February 2017 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Matharu holds all the cards at Ladies Tshwane Open
For a second time in three weeks, its advantage to a foreign campaigner as Britainâ€™s Kiran Matharu continued to stamp her dominance on the Ladies Tshwane Open at Zwartkop Country Club on Wednesday.
Targeting a breakthrough on the Sunshine Ladies Tour after a third, a second and a fifth place finish in her first three starts, the 27-year-old from Leeds opened up healthy three stroke lead with a second round two under 69 to top the scoreboard at five under 137.
Matharu believes she has the game to see it through, but she will keep an eye on Kim Williams and Ashleigh Buhai leading the chasing pack.
Williams soared into contention with a four under 68 that included five birdies on the homeward loop and she finished at two under, one shot ahead of Buhai.
The former Ladies European Tour winner tied for second with Matharu at the SA Womenâ€™s Masters and locked down a runner-up finish in last weekâ€™s SA Womenâ€™s Open. Buhai rocketed into third after shooting a 66 for the low round of the day.
Matharu hopes to get the putter working early to extend her advantage on the final day.
â€œI started off a bit slow, dropped a shot at the second but got I quickly got a birdie back at the fourth and on the back nine I made two birdies in a row, but I had a lot of birdie chances that I didnâ€™t convert,â€ she said.
â€œIn the first three tournaments I let myself down with poor second rounds. Thatâ€™s when you need to move upwards to have a chance. Thatâ€™s what Iâ€™ve done today, so tomorrow, I just need to get the ball to the hole, thatâ€™s all. Iâ€™ll stick to the same approach and play hole by hole, shot for shot.
â€œThatâ€™s the best way to win, keeping it simple. I donâ€™t think about winning or prize money or the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies points when Iâ€™m out there, because it detracts your focus. There are a lot of good players on my heels, so I have to stay in the moment.â€
Williams won the season-opening SuperSport Ladies Challenge and was equally pleased to have shot at victory.
â€œThe rough is really thick, so keeping the ball on the short stuff will be key to giving yourself chances to score,â€ she said. â€œIâ€™d love to get my hands on another trophy, but weâ€™ll have to go low to catch Kiran, because sheâ€™s a quality player.â€
Itâ€™s a tall order to catch the Englishwoman when you are four back, but Simon is primed to give it a shot. â€œI was really happy with my five under,â€ Simon said. â€œI worked a few things out on the range with Doug (Wood), my coach, and it definitely paid off. Â If I can do what I did today and keep that feeling going, I could be in with a shout.â€
Top ranked Lee-Anne Pace will start the final round six shots behind the leader in a tie for seventh with Monja Richards and Mae Cornforth after rounds of 71 and 72.
Meanwhile former Nomads Rose Bowl Girls champion Catherine Lau heads up the amateur challenge at Zwartkop. The 16-year-old from Woodhill followed an opening 73 with a 72 tie for 12th with rookie Lora Assad, Lejan Lewthwaite, Michelle Leigh, Bertine Strauss and Rebecca Hudson at three over.
PHOTO â€“ Kiran Matharu from England; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.
31st January 2017 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Masterful Matharu on the march in Tshwane
British golfer Kiran Matharu once again demonstrated some fine form on the Sunshine Ladies Tour to finish the weather-affected first day of the Ladies Tshwane Open at the top of the pile at Zwartkop Country Club.
The Hennops River broke its banks on Monday night after a heavy deluge and caused some major damage, especially over the first nine holes. The opening round had to be delayed by two hours as greens-staff cleaned greens, drained bunkers and repaired damage, but the interruption did little to upset Matharu.
She fired a three-under-par 68 to head up a congested international leaderboard that features â€“ among others â€“ SA Womenâ€™s Masters champion Carrie Park, SA Womenâ€™s Open champion Lee-Anne Pace, twins sisters Hanna and Maria Roos from Sweden, Hannah Arnold from the United States and former Sunshine Ladies Tour champion Rebecca Hudson.
Matharu has been in threatening form since her first appearance at the season-opening SuperSport Ladies Challenge.
The 27-year-old from Leeds followed a third place finish at Huddle Park in early January with a tie for second at Rondebosch and a top five finish at San Lameer to move to second in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies.
She started the R400Â 000 event in Tshwane just 61 points behind Park from South Korea.
Matharu made four straight pars to get her campaign going, but a string of birdies from the 14th took her to the top of the pile. Another eight straight pars kept the Englishwoman in the lead at four under, but she dropped a shot when she bogeyed her final hole.
â€œI battled with the driver, but I was able to hit it close on the front nine and all my birdie putts were pretty short,â€ said Matharu. â€œI had some chances on the back nine, but I didnâ€™t convert and it was a little disappointing to finish with the bogey. Still, Iâ€™ve put myself in contention again. I would like to win at least once, but I try not to think about prize money and points out there. I just take it shot for shot and see where that takes me.
â€œThe staff did an amazing job with the course, considering the condition it was in when we arrived this morning. There are a couple of bad patches, but the course played really well and the greens were good, too. If the rain stays away, itâ€™s going to turn into a real fight for the title.
â€œThere are a lot of birdies out there if you are hitting it straight, so Iâ€™m heading to the driving range now. Iâ€™ve been working on my swing, so itâ€™s a work in progress, but Iâ€™m pleased with the results Iâ€™m starting to see.â€
With 520 points on offer to the 2017 champion, Matharu is bound to come under pressure.
Park mixed three bogeys with four birdies to tie for second one under with three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Monique Smit, who pencilled a trio of birdies on her card.
Pace was three under through 12 holes but an untimely double bogey at the fifth and a bogey at seven saw her slip into a tie for fourth at even-par with Hanna Roos and South Africans Monja Richards and Ivanna Samu.
â€œI was going along nicely, but I went for the wrong club at the fifth and ended up in the water and that interrupted my focus a little,â€ said Pace. â€œItâ€™s pretty tight at the top, so I am pleased to be within three shots of Kiran with two rounds to play.â€
PHOTO â€“ Kiran Matharu from England; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.
29th August 2016 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Park, Dlamini & Assad make LPGA Stage II
Park sealed a top 20 finish at one-under-par 287, Dlamini grabbed a share of 58th at four over 292 and Assad finished the gruelling four day test in a tie for 78th at six-over-par 294 in the group that closed out the top 92 competitors that advanced out of the Stage I Qualifying Tournament at Mission Hills Country Club to make the field for the Stage II Qualifier in October.
When South Africaâ€™s former number ranked amateur Park made her debut in the pro ranks in the SA Womenâ€™s Open last November, she surprised a number of seasoned professionals with her mental strength under pressure.
Her accuracy off the tee, solid short game and big match temperament saw Park perform well throughout the 2016 season and she easily qualified for the season-ending Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies Final.
She spent the last five months preparing for Qualifying School on the IGT Tour and a handful of top five finishes saw her arrive in Florida with her game on.
â€œI had some good results on the Sunshine Ladies Tour and I made great starts at Millvale and later in Hong Kong in an Asian Ladies Tour co-sanctioned event, but I always seem to let myself down in the final round,â€ Park said.
â€œI donâ€™t stick to my processes on the last day and then I get in my own way, so it was really important to learn to close out tournaments. This is something I worked on really hard with my coach (Graeme Francis at the GFG Academy) on the IGT Tour.
â€œBefore I left South Africa, Graeme said that I should focus on the excitement of Qualifying School and not think about the fear of failure. Our goal on the IGT Tour was to get my stroke average down to 70 and we did that.
â€œWe prepared really well and he wanted to me think about the positive aspects of coming out here. He told me to forget that itâ€™s a qualifying school and to treat it as I would handle any old tournament and taking that mindset to California really worked for me.â€
Park followed a bogey-free 72 at the Gary Player Course with a 75 at the tough Dinah Shore Course and produced a flawless 67 at the Arnold Palmer Course to make the first cut to 130 and ties with ease.
Buoyed by the strong performance in the third round, Park closed with a 75 at the Dinah Shore Course to achieve her goal for the tournament.
â€œGraeme and I set a goal of finishing in the top 20 and I felt I could do it after the third round,â€ said the petite South Korean. â€œI didnâ€™t drop a shot on the front nine and made five birdies on the back nine and going bogey-free like that really gave me the courage to start the final round with no fear.â€
Dlamini, who also used the countryâ€™s premier development Tour to prepare for her campaign at Mission Hills, looked in danger after an opening 78 at the Gary Player Course.
However, the big-hitting Swazi pro carded 74 at the Dinah Shore Course and then fired a blistering 66 that featured four birdies and an eagle at the Arnold Palmer Course that safely put her in the line-up for the final round.
Dlamini offset four bogeys with a pair of birdies at the Dinah Shore Course for a 74 to guarantee her start in Florida.
Assad began her campaign with a 73 at the Dinah Shore Course and followed with rounds of 73 and 72 at the Arnold Palmer and Gary Player Courses. The final year Texas State University student closed with a 75 at the Dinah Shore Course secure a spot in the Stage II Qualifier at the Plantation Golf and Country Club from 17-23 October.
Unfortunately, former Sunshine Ladies Tour champion Nicole Garcia missed the top 130 mark in the third round, having finished at 12 over with rounds of 77, 73 and 77.
PHOTO â€“ Carrie Park led the Sunshine Ladies Tour campaigners at the LPGA Tour Stage I Qualifying Tournament; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.
Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
21st August 2016 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Parkâ€™s gold medal performanceÂ in Rio captures the world
Her par putt didn’t matter, as she had a big lead walking up the 18th fairway, the gold medal all but secured. But it went in regardless, capping a remarkable week of golf for the LPGA Hall of Famer that was as much surprising as it was dominating.
And perhaps it was a relief, too.
Expectations are high, perhaps overwhelming, in her homeland. There was talk of the South Korean golfers sweeping the podium, a ridiculous notion perhaps, but one that nonetheless was not out of the realm of possibility.
But Park did what she came to do â€“ not just earning a medal, but the gold medal.
“This is definitely one of the most special moments in my golfing career and whole life,” said the 28-year-old former world number one. â€œThis feels great. Obviously representing your country, winning the gold, it’s so special. It’s just really all I’ve wanted. I’m just happy.â€
Park shot a final-round 66 and pulled away early as the number one ranked player in the world, Lydia Ko from New Zealand, and the American Gerina Piller struggled.
Ko holed a seven-footer for birdie on the last hole to edge out China’s Shanshan Feng for silver.
American Stacy Lewis finished one shot out of a medal and Piller fell back to a tie for 11th, but all of them would have had a tough time overtaking Park on this day, so steady was her play, so good was her putting.
Incredible as it is to believe, a month ago Park was unsure if she would even be coming to Rio.
She has battled a left thumb injury all year. It started in the off-season and lingered. She tried to play through it. She tried rest. She tried a little of both. But Park had not played in an LPGA event since the KPMG PGA in early June, where she missed the cut.
Just two weeks ago, she participated in a Korean LPGA event and missed the cut there, too.
“I had a lot of attention coming into this week,” she said. “Whether it was a worry or whether it was people thinking she’s going to do good, there was a little bit of confusion from me whether I can perform well this week or not, because I really haven’t performed well this year with the injury.
“Being able to overcome injury this week and being able to play good, I’ve worked really hard for this week and hard work really paid off this week, so I’m really happy.”
Park has 17 career LPGA Tour titles, including seven major championships.
In 2013, she became the first player to win the first three majors in a year, her streak stopped at the Women’s British Open by Lewis.
The two battled for the number one ranking for the better part of two years.
“I don’t think people understand at all; if you watch her, or even Lydia, watch both of them play golf, you’re not going to be wowed,” Lewis said. “You’re not going to be amazed. But if you watch it over a period of time, you’ll be amazed, and people just maybe don’t pay attention that much.
“Coming back from an injury and not playing and not being competitive, that’s a hard thing to do. And the way she won this week was impressive.”
After having not shot a round in the 60s since April, Park did it three times in Rio.
She got into contention the first day and barely wavered. For a moment on Saturday, things got a bit dicey when Park bogeyed the 10th hole to see her lead shrink to three shots. But that was still more than it was at the start of the day, and it was only a momentary issue. She was never threatened the rest of the way.
Whether the pressure will let up at home is difficult to know. Park never shows it outwardly, only speaking to it when asked. The game is nearly an obsession, especially among women, in South Korea, dating to the days of Se Ri Pak, who served as team leader this week for the four South Korean women in the field.
When Pak won the 1998 U.S. Women’s Open and embarked on her own Hall of Fame career, she sparked a surge in golf interest that has never subsided.
“In South Korea, Olympic achievement tips any other athletic achievement,” said Ty Votaw, vice president of the International Golf Federation, former commissioner of the LPGA Tour and now an executive with the PGA Tour.
â€œHaving a gold medal winner in golf will only validate with an exclamation point what that country has achieved in golf over the past two decades, especially women’s golf.”
Park had said before the tournament that just competing in the Olympics was an honour and that even with all she’s done, a gold medal would likely be the highlight of her career.
Written by Lali Stander on behalf of the South African Golf Association, Womens Golf South Africa, Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
8th July 2016 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
SA pair slow off the mark at US Womenâ€™s Open
South Africaâ€™s Ashleigh Simon opened with a two-over-par 74, but Lee-Anne Pace had a much tougher time in the blustery afternoon conditions and carded an uninspiring first round 78 at the US Womenâ€™s Open in California on Thursday.
Pace was in good company though, as none of the players in the marquee group that featured three of the top four players in the world were among the 14 players that broke par at CordeValle Golf Club in San Martin in the afternoon.
World number one Lydia Ko birdied her final hole for a 73, Lexi Thompson matched Simonâ€™s 74 and Brooke Henderson shot 76.
The top trio and the South African pair will need to do plenty of work to catch leader MirimÂ Lee.
The South Korean took advantage of benign morning conditions and birdied five of her last seven holes to post an eight-under-par round of 64.
WhenÂ Lee walked off the course following her record-tying round and a three shot lead, she described her day with words usually not heard when talking about the U.S. Women’s Open.
“So today’s round was easy day â€” easy round, yeah,” Lee said.
She sure made it look that way when she reeled in 10 birdies on her way to becoming only the fifth golfer to shoot a round of eight under. She was the first to shoot that much below par since Lorie Kane and Becky Iverson did it in the second round in 1999 at Old Waverly in Mississippi.
The lowest total score in a round in U.S. Open history is a 63 by Helen Alfredsson in 1994 at the par-71 Indianwood in Michigan.
Lee finished three strokes clear of 2007 champion Christie Kerr from the United States, Australiaâ€™s Minjee Lee and fellow Korean Amy Yang.
Even Ko was impressed by the South Koreanâ€™s performance.
“I don’t know what course she played, maybe the ladies tees, maybe a different course,” Ko said. “But she played fantastic. We were checking theÂ leaderboard, she made two bogeys and still shot 8-under. It’s very impressive. She must have hit a lot of fairways and made good putts. I think obviously that’s the key.”
Simon dropped shots at 10, 14 and seven and her lone birdie came on her back nine at the par five third. Pace offset four birdies on the outward loop with a pair of birdies at 15 and 18, but slipped deeper into blue numbers with bogeys at two, six, eight and nine.
PHOTO â€“ Ashleigh Simon; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.
Follow the live scoring at http://www.usga.org/championships/2016/u-s–women-s-open/scoring.html