1st July 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Simon set for Masters
South Africaâ€™s Ashleigh Simon is ready to tee it up in this weekâ€™s ISPS Handa Ladies European Masters at Buckinghamshire Golf Club while compatriot Lee-Anne Pace travels to Pennsylvania this week to put the final touches to her preparation ahead of the 70th US Womenâ€™s Open.
Simon joined fellow Sunshine Ladies Tour winners Stacy Bregman, Nicole Garcia and Monique Smit, as well as Melissa Eaton, Connie Chen, Laurette Maritz and Namibiaâ€™s Bonita Bredenhann in the Ladies European Tour (LET) event that tees off near London on Thursday.
After an up-and-down season on the LPGA Tour, Simon is targeting a return to form on familiar territory.
The two-time LET champion came close to clinching the title in 2013, but lost by a single stroke to seven-time Major champion Karrie Webb.
â€œMy swing has definitely improved and my overall game is really good,â€ Simon said.
â€œIâ€™m starting to find form with the short game and Iâ€™m excited to work with my coach, Doug Wood, this week. Iâ€™m ready to turn a corner.â€
If she can find the rhythm and pace on the fast and hard greens at Buckinghamshire, Simon could definitely be a contender this week.
Wanna Be A Champion stable-mate Garcia, whose performance at The International in Amsterdam was hampered by a niggling hip injury, is also back to full strength.
The one to watch, though, is Bregman, who tied for sixth in last yearâ€™s edition.
The Joburg professional was slow off the mark in her first three starts on the LET this season after claiming a hat-trick of victories on the 2015 Sunshine Ladies Tour.
Bregman is carrying some great form into this week, having tied for fourth in the Deloitte Ladies Open a fortnight ago.
Other notable names in the 144-strong field include LET champions Charley Hull, Melissa Reid, Dame Laura Davies, Solheim Cup stars Caroline Masson and Giulia Sergas, current order of merit leader Gwladys Nocera and 19-time tournament winner Trish Johnson.
Pace based herself in Tulsa, Oklahoma to give the LPGA Tour her full attention following a solid summer at home during which she also notched a trio of Sunshine Ladies Tour titles in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge, Ladies Tshwane Open and Investec Cup for Ladies.
After four months competing alongside the cream of womenâ€™s professional golf, Pace says she is very comfortable on the LPGA Tour and looking forward to her first look at Lancaster Country Club.
â€œI am playing really well and every event brings more experience and exposure to this level of the game,â€ Pace said.
â€œThe biggest adjustment has been to the length of the courses in the USA, which are far more challenging than the ones we compete on in Europe. â€œI am definitely moving in the right direction and my confidence is growing. A second LPGA victory is not out of reach.
Pace is keen to improve on a career best tie for 43rd in the US Womenâ€™s Open she recorded at Pinehurst Number Two last year.
The nine-time Ladies European Tour winner has always owned a solid iron game, but Pace believes her short game will make the difference in this yearâ€™s Major from 9-13 July.
â€œThe US Womenâ€™s Open courses are traditionally very long and the fairways are well protected with punishing rough,â€ she explained.
â€œThese courses always demands accuracy off the tee and a very strong short game. My swing is looking very good, but I am especially happy with the state of my short game.
â€œI have worked incredibly hard on my short game, because a solid short game is key to contend at this level.â€
PHOTO â€“ Ashleigh Simon; credit Catherine Kotze / SASPA