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23rd February 2016 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Strauss ready to power at Sun City

2016 Ladies Cape Town Open: Day 1Bertine Strauss will have to hit the ground running and keep her foot on the pedal when she starts the Sun International Ladies Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club on Wednesday.

The petite Koster golfer made a superb start to her LPGA Tour rookie season and earned cheques in the Bahamas and Australia, but Strauss missed out on four tournaments on the local circuit.

Only the top 10 professionals will qualify for the R1-million finale at Millvale Private Retreat in March and Strauss is well out of position in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies race.

With just two events remaining, the 24-year-old Strauss knows she is under the gun.

“I’ve slipped to 19th in the points standings, so I will have to make the last two count,” said Strauss.

“Unfortunately I have limited starts on the LPGA Tour as a Q-School graduate, so anytime I can get a spot, I have to jump on a plane and try to take advantage.

“It’s a catch 22, really. If I don’t perform really well at Sun City this week and in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge next week, I won’t qualify for Millvale. But, if I don’t play every chance I get on the LPGA Tour, I might not keep my card at the end of the season.

“That’s why I have to make the last two tournaments count.”

Strauss has 332 points in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies following a runner-up finish in the Ladies Joburg Open and a tie for seventh in the Cape Town Ladies Open, but she lags 165 points behind Nobuhle Dlamini, who currently resides at number 10 in the rankings.

“I basically need to finish top three in both tournaments to break into the top 10,” Strauss said.

“It will be tough, because the girls are hitting their stride now and I’m battling jet leg. But I am going to give it a huge push on Wednesday and see where I can take it from there.”
Although she won’t have to contend with top ranked Lee-Anne Pace – who left for the Honda LPGA Thailand just after she wrapped up her ninth consecutive Sunshine Ladies Tour victory in the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge on Sunday – the field lining up at the Gary Player Country Club won’t make things easy for Strauss.

Three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion Monique Smit has enjoyed a superb season highlighted by a play-off victory in the Ladies Tshwane Open. She moved to second in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies point standings after a runner-up finish in George and the success has fuelled her desire to chase for the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s top prize.

“I am 350 points behind Lee-Anne, but I could overtake her with two solid weeks and the more points I accumulate, the better the situation is for me when we get to Millvale,” said Smit.

“You can bet your bottom dollar I am going all out in the last two tournaments.”

England’s Rebecca Hudson, who became the first international champion on the Sunshine Ladies Tour with her victory in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Houghton in January, skipped the season-finale in 2015, but the four-time Ladies European Tour winner is definitely going to have a stab at the R1-million bonus pool this year.

“I am really looking forward to the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies final this year, so I am afraid Bertine will have to earn her spot the hard way,” said the current number four ranked player.

“It was nice to come out this year and know what to expect. I found the competition much tighter this year and the players are definitely shooting deeper this season. I also love the 54-hole events; it has definitely elevated the Sunshine Ladies Tour.”

The rest of the cast in the current top 10 that will also feature in the Sun International Ladies Challenge this week include Sunshine Ladies Tour winners Stacy Bregman and Kim Williams, Melissa Eaton and rookies Carrie Park and Lejan Lewthwaite.

“That’s a tough bunch to beat, but my game is in good shape and I am striking it well,” Strauss said.

“If I have a chance to get in contention, they will have to stop me.”

PHOTO – Bertine Strauss; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

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