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28th July 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Simon joins Garcia & co at Women’s British Open

TSHWANE LADIES OPEN 2015.South Africa’s Ashleigh Simon boosted the South African tally in this week’s Ricoh Women’s British Open at the Trump Turnberry Resort in South Ayrshire, Scotland after she came through the Final Qualifying Round at Irvine Golf Club with flying colours on Monday.

Simon will join compatriots Lee-Anne Pace, Paula Reto and fellow Wanna Be A Champ Academy stable-mate Nicole Garcia in the starting line-up on Thursday.

The 26-year-old Johannesburg professional offset four bogeys with five birdies and an eagle for a three-under-par 71 to take the third of 12 spots on offer into the season’s fourth Major championship.

Simon finished two strokes behind Sunshine Ladies Tour regular Charlotte Ellis from England.

Simon will make her eight appearance in the Women’s British Open since her amateur debut in 2006 and the three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner will be looking to improve on a career best tie for 43rd at Royal Birkdale in 2010.

That same year, LPGA winner Pace tied for 21st and recorded her second best finish – a tie for 29th – at the same venue last year.

The Pearl Valley golfer arrived in Scotland carrying some good form, having tied for 22nd in the Marathon Classic two weeks ago and claimed a share of 27th in the Meijer LPGA Classic on Sunday.

While Simon and double Investec Cup for Ladies champion Pace have a lot of experience to draw from, it is all new territory for Ricoh Women’s British Open debutants Reto and Garcia.

Reto, a second season LPGA Tour campaigner, qualified by virtue of her 89th place ranking on the LPGA Tour Money List.

Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Garcia made the 144-strong field on the strength of a 30th place ranking on the Ladies European Tour’s Order of Merit. She tied for 27th in the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open on Sunday and didn’t waste any time to get her first look at the Alisa Course.

“I played a practice round on Monday in heavy rain and a four-club wind,” the 24-year-old Ebotse golfer said.

“The wind was blowing in the opposite direction to the prevailing wind, which is forecast for the weekend. It was extremely tough to navigate the course in that wind. I had to hit mostly three-wood into the greens on the par fours and for my second shots on the par fives.

“It was nearly impossible to reach the greens on Monday, but they should be easier to reach when the prevailing wind blows. The tee shots are extremely tight, but at least the greens are a lot bigger and flatter than the greens at the Dundonald Links last week.

“The course has more of a links feel and here, you can bump and run the ball up to the flag. You have to put yourself in the right position off the tee, though, or you will never get to the green.”

The reigning Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies champion and fellow South Africans will line up alongside 20 of the top ranked players in the world who share 51 Major titles, including reigning world number one Inbee Park, a six-time Major winner who is chasing a career Grand Slam this week.

PHOTO – Nicole Garcia; credit Catherine Kotze / SASPA.