4th February 2016 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Smith plays it smart to win Ladies Tshwane Open
TSHWANE, 4 February 2016 â€“ Monique Smit ended a two-year title drought on the Sunshine Ladies Tour with a brilliant trap-shot and a tap-in birdie to defeat Ashleigh Simon at the first play-off hole for the Ladies Tshwane Open title on Thursday.
â€œI donâ€™t think anyone can appreciate just how happy I am at this moment that Iâ€™ve thrown the monkey off my back,â€ the delighted Southern Cape player gushed. â€œThis is one of the happiest moments of my life. Itâ€™s even more special to win this title after the City of Tshwane spoiled us so brilliantly with the two-day outing before the tournament. I feel privileged to be the City of Tshwaneâ€™s champion and I salute them for supporting the the Sunshine Ladies Tour.
Simon had a one shot lead over Smit at the start of the final round, but the pair ended regulation play in a tie at nine-under-par 207 following respective rounds of 69 and 68.
After Simon bogeyed the opening hole, Smit took the lead with back-to-back birdies at three and four, but Simon shortened the gap with a birdie at seven.
Smit birdied nine to pull two shots clear, but misjudged the distance at 10, flew the green and dropped a shot and Simon rallied with birdies at 10, 11 and 13 to surge two strokes clear.
â€œI just stayed patient and tried to give myself chances,â€ Smit said. â€œWhen Ash bogeyed 15, I knew I had to take advantage at the par five 16th. I hit three-wood off the deck and three-wood for my second I had 25 meters to the flag and I chipped to a foot and made the putt.
â€œWe were tied at nine under playing 17 and the tee shot at 17 was absolutely nerve-wracking. I felt so close to the win, but I was still so far.â€
The Fancourt player got her nerves under control and matched Simonâ€™s par at the short hole, but after both players missed their birdie chances at the final hole to close out a victory,
Thatâ€™s when Smit came up with a winning strategy for the play-off on the return trip to the tee at the par-five 18th.
â€œI hit my second in the right greenside bunker in regulation play and Ashleigh was in the left one, but we both missed out chances,â€ Smit said. â€œTrap shots are my bread and butter, so I aimed straight for that left bunker. I knew I could get it close for another birdie chance.â€
Smit hit the bunker shot to perfection, leaving herself a foot-long putt for birdie and tidied up for the victory when Simon missed her 12-foot birdie effort.
â€œI had a negative attitude on the greens at the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies last week, so I worked really hard at staying positive with the putter this week,â€ said Smit.
â€œAsh did unbelievably well to put pressure on me the whole day and I had to work to catch her in the end. All in all, Iâ€™m happy that I got the job is done. It doesnâ€™t matter how many holes it took.â€
Smit won the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am and SuperSport Ladies Challenge in the 2014 and is targeting in another victory before the season finale Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies.
â€œIâ€™m hell-bent on winning another one to keep myself in the top 10 so I can challenge for the R1-million bonus at Millvale Private Retreat in March,â€ she said.
â€œI didnâ€™t play the Cape Town Ladies Open last year, so I am very excited to get to Royal Cape next week and itâ€™s going to be great to challenge in the Dimension Data Pro-Am in George with this form.â€
Meanwhile South Africaâ€™s number two ranked amateur Ivanna Samu continues to impress. The GFG Academy player carded rounds of 72, 71 and 73 to win the Leading Amateur award for a thirdÂ consecutive time with a seventh place finish on even-par 216.
PRIZE GIVING PHOTO (left to right) â€“ MMC Nozipho Tybeka-Makeke (MMC Department of Sports, Art, Recreation and Culture), Ladies Tshwane Open champion Monique and Nomasonto Ndlovu (Strategic Executive Director – Communication and Marketing City of Tshwane).