3rd March 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Stylish Simon seals SLTÂ Open win
Ashleigh Simon lit up the front nine of the East Course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club and produced a grandstand finish to seal a sensational six-stroke victory in the Sunshine Ladies Tour Open on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old Glendower professional fired a seven-under-par 65 to celebrate a superb return to form on a winning total of eight-under 136.
A three-time winner last season, Simonâ€™s unprecedented fourth victory on the Sunshine Ladies Tour re-affirms her position among the prime golfers in the country.
â€œIâ€™m leaving for the United States next Wednesday and this win gives me a lot of confidence ahead of the JTBC Founders Cup,â€ Simon said.
â€œI finished my first round with three birdies in a row for a 71 and I got really excited when I realised I was only one off the pace. I did a lot of work on the mental game in the last couple of weeks and I played well in the first round of the Cape Town Ladies Open.
Simonâ€™s challenge ignited at the fourth hole when she hit it close at the par-three and made the birdie putt. She missed chances at the fifth and sixth holes, but bombed home a 30-footer for birdie at the par-four seventh to keep the momentum going. She hit a three-wood to eight feet at the eighth and boxed the putt for an eagle three.
Simon pulled five strokes clear of the chasing pack after holing a two-footer for birdie at the 10th, but that cushion was reduced to four after a bogey at the 11th.
â€œI hit it in the bunker and hit a good trap shot, but I didnâ€™t back up the putt,â€ said Simon, who rallied with two more birdies at the 16th and 18th to finish in style.
â€œItâ€™s been a while, but when the putts started dropping half of it was relief and half of it was satisfaction. I wanted a grandstand finish and I got one.â€
Simon will miss the season-finale Investec Cup for Ladies, but feels that she validated her decision to interrupt her schedule to come back and support the Sunshine Ladies Tour.
â€œI was determined to win at least one event before I go back to the LPGA Tour and it feels incredibly good right now,â€ Simon said.
â€œThe sponsors have raised the stakes this year and the standard is even higher this season. Itâ€™s great to be able to compete at home and I am really happy to do my bit to help raise the profile of the Sunshine Ladies Tour.â€
Simon will go head-to-head with Chase to the 2015 Investec Cup for Ladies leader Stacy Bregman and reigning Cell C SA Womenâ€™s Open champion Lee-Anne Pace in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge at Zwartkop next week from 10-11 March.
PHOTO â€“ Sunshine Ladies Tour Open champion Ashleigh Simon; credit Catherine Kotze / SASPA