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6th March 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Buhai completes brilliant wire-to-wire win at Glendower

6 March 2020 – Ashleigh Buhai slept on the lead for two straight nights and on Friday, South Africa’s top ranked golfer completed her march to victory in the R600 000 Jabra Ladies Classic at Glendower Golf Club in fine style.

The only player in the 77-strong international field to break the 200 mark, Buhai celebrated her 11th Sunshine Ladies Tour title – and 14th career win – with a winning total of 17-under-par 199.

The 30-year-old honorary member opened her campaign at the championship layout with a blistering 63 and retained the overnight lead with a 69 in the second round. She began the final day three shots clear of Stacy Bregman and four ahead of local fan favourite Casandra Hall.

Birdies at the first and third holes kept Bregman at bay and a third gain on the par four ninth took Buhai through the turn with a four-shot cushion.

Bregman managed to close the gap with back-to-back birdies on 11 and 12 and a Buhai bogey on the par five 13th reduced the deficit to two shots, but Buhai extinguished Bregman’s title hopes with a brilliant approach into par five 15th. After holing a confident 15-foot putt for three, she drained a 20-footer on the short 17th and closed out a five-shot victory with par at the last.

“Obviously I’m thrilled with the golf I played over the last three days; to shoot 17-under in three rounds is pretty to good golf, even if I say so myself,” said the delighted Buhai after her final round five-under 67.

“Coming home after a top 13 on the LPGA Tour in Australia and then playing the kind of golf I did here shows that the work I’ve been doing with my coach Doug Wood is really paying off.

“I knew going into the final round that Stacy and Casandra were going to come at me. Although we had sunny weather the last two days, the course was still soft and you could fire at the pins.

“The way I am swinging it, I just trusted what I was doing. They had to catch me. If I make a few birdies, they would have to make two or three more, so I felt very comfortable going out there.”

Buhai found the water on the par-five 13th but atoned for the lone bogey with a strong finish.

“Stacy pulled it back after the turn, but I just continued to hit to the spaces I needed to. I stood on the 14th after the drop and thought if I made two birdies going home I’d be good. And I made an eagle and a birdie,” she said.

“I had 194 metres to a tucked pin on the left and I went with a 5-wood. The ball was lying perfectly, just a little above my feet. I could trust what the slope would do and drew it into the flag. It came out perfectly. On 17, the pin was also tucked on the left but the wind helped off the right. It was a similar yardage to the second round. I hit a flighted 7-iron in and it held the line beautifully.”

Buhai enjoyed sharing another victory on home soil with husband David on the bag.

“Dave and I don’t do this full-time anymore, because we want to stay married,” she joked. “No-one knows my game better and there is no-one I trust more. It’s brilliant to celebrate another win with him. We almost have a full-house now. The only one I haven’t won is the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am, because it doesn’t fit in with my schedule.”

Buhai also applauded Jabra for extending their investment in the women’s professional game to the Sunshine Ladies Tour.

“It’s really fantastic to see a foreign company backing golf in South Africa and to have JB (Jean-Baptiste Pain – Jabra Managing Director South EMEA) driving this is incredible, because he is so passionate about growing women’s professional golf. Not only did Jabra increase our prize money from R200 000 to R600 000 this year, but they also offered the first non-exempt player in the top five a spot in the Jabra Ladies Open on the Ladies European Tour. This event has two qualifying spots for the Evian Championship.

“The international interest from the players continues to increase, because our tour is perfectly positioned at the start of the season. I sincerely hope that JB and Jabra will inspire more foreign investors so we can grow the tour.”

Meanwhile Bregman may have had to settle for second after a final round 69, but the runner-up finish carried 620 points, which propelled her to the summit of the Investec Order of Merit. It’s an advantageous position for Bregman ahead of the final event – the Investec South African Women’s Open. The five-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner topped the standings in 2018 and could bank the R100 000 bonus again with another strong showing at Westlake Golf Club next week.

Ladies European Tour (LET) rookie Hall was equally pleased with her performance ahead of the co-sanctioned €200 000 season-finale in Cape Town.

“It will be my first LET start and I’m taking a lot of confidence from this performance to Westlake. Hopefully the wind is merciful and I can get my foot on the Order of Merit,” the 20-year-old said.

With Buhai, Bregman and rookie Hall already exempt it was Scotland’s Jane Turner that earned the start in the Jabra Ladies Open as the first non-exempt player in the top five.

Turner, who won the Standard Bank SA Women’s Masters at San Lameer just two weeks ago, made a trio of birdies on the bounce from the 12th and a further gain at 17 to register a final round 71 that lifted her to fourth on five-under 211.

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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.


5th March 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Bregman, Hall give chase at Jabra Ladies Classic

5 March 2020 – Ashleigh Buhai signed for a three-under 69 to retain the lead on Thursday, but Stacy Bregman and local fan favourite Casandra Hall are hot on her heels with 18 holes to play in the R600 000 Jabra Ladies Classic at Glendower Golf Club.

Buhai could not quite hit the heights of a blistering 63 on day one, but another flawless trip around the championship layout kept her at the summit. She will start the final round on 12-under-par 132, four shots clear of Bregman, who returned a bogey-free 68.

Hall – the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s most recent Ladies European Tour graduate – hauled herself into the chasing pack with a joint best of the day 66 to finish four shots adrift on eight-under.

Scotland’s Jane Turner, who visited the winner’s circle just two weeks ago at San Lameer, reeled in a trio of birdies over the last six holes for a 69 to move to fourth on four-under.

Kelsey Nicholas, who rallied after a nervous bogey-bogey start to keep pace with playing partners Buhai and Bregman, signed for 73 to finish alone in fifth on three-under, while last week’s Joburg Ladies Open winner Monique Smit is tied for sixth on two-under alongside 2019 Investec Order of Merit winner Nobuhle Dlamini from eSwatini, India’s Sharmila Nicollet and Rachel Rossel from Switzerland, who shared the low-round honours with Hall.

Ashleigh Buhai leads the 2020 Jabra Ladies Classic at Glendower Golf Club on 12-under after rounds of 63 & 69. Credit Sunshine Ladies Tour

Buhai had a great start to the season with a fine top 13 finish in Australia before she was forced to return home when the LPGA Tour cancelled events in Thailand and Singapore due to health concerns about the Covid-19 virus.

She was pleased with her form over the first two days and looking forward to the final round battle.

“If it was offered, I would have taken 12-under before I teed off. I had a number in mind; I thought if I shot three rounds of four-under, I’d have a good chance to win,” the 30-year-old Buhai said. “I’m already at 12-under, but I’ll have to keep my foot on the gas in the final round. Stacy played really well and I saw that Cas also had a great second round. Stace and I grew up playing this course and its Casandra’s home course, so the local course knowledge is definitely coming into play.

“It helps that I know where the ball is going and stayed patient, because I didn’t have to chase. The pins were a little more tucked today and I didn’t hit it as close, so you play to the big spaces and work it into the flag. If you don’t, at least you still have a putt.”

Bregman was chuffed with the result of her careful course management.

“I think nine-under is a great score. Glendower is a tough test; it’s a true test golf. You have to hit fairways and you have to put yourself on the right side of the flag to score well and I’ve done that well for the last two days,” said the Country Club Johannesburg golfer.

“It’s been a while since I struck it this good and it’s coming at the right time of the season. A win this week gets you into the Jabra Ladies Open, which is the qualifier for the Evian Championship. Next week, we have the Investec SA Women’s Open, co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour (LET). I want to perform well at Westlake and take that form to our next LET event in Saudi.

“My wedge-play has been really good and I’m holing a lot more putts. The greens here are really good and fast and if you read it good and hold you lines, you can get it going. This course has its challenges, but it’s also fair, because there is always a side to miss it. I worked really hard in the off-season with my new coach and it’s so good to see it all come to fruition here in the Jabra Ladies Classic. I’ll need to shoot four- to five-under to beat Ash, because she is just playing fantastic golf at the moment, but I’m really happy with the direction my game is moving.”

Casandra Hall is four off the pace after a sizzling 66 on day 2 of the 2020 Jabra Ladies Classic at Glendower Golf Club.Credit Sunshine Ladies Tour

Hall attributed her sizzling 66 to a strong iron-game.

“I saw my coach Robbie Stewart after I got back from the LET Q-School in Spain and we worked on my game up,“ she said. “I hit a few bad drives, but I missed it in the rights spots. I didn’t sink many amazing birdie putts, but I hit my irons unbelievably well, I was throwing darts at the pins all day.

“After all the rain the course, and the greens, are a lot softer than last week. It’s a big change and that has really helped me to attack the flags. But I also love the course. It’s my home course and it sets up nicely for me, especially the faster greens, which I love.”

The course also suited South African Longest Drive champion Lenanda van der Watt, who fired three birdies and eagled the tough par five 13th for a flawless five-under 67 that catapulted the Pretoria golfer from joint 37th to a tie for 10th.

“I drove the ball incredibly well and I hit every fairway. My wedge-play was good, too and I only missed two greens all day. I needed a low round to make the cut, and now I just have to do it all over again tomorrow so I can play myself into the field for the Investec SA Women’s Open.”

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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.


4th March 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Sizzling 63 sees Buhai surge to the top in Jabra

4 March 2020 – Olympics-bound Ashleigh Buhai equalled her lowest career round at Glendower Golf Club with a stunning 63, which saw her surge into a four-shot lead in the opening round of the R600 000 Jabra Ladies Open on Wednesday.

It was a spectacular start to the penultimate event of the 2020 Sunshine Ladies Tour season for Buhai, who overhauled Stacy Bregman for the top spot.

Bregman had earlier ramped up the fans with a flawless five-under 67, while 21-year-old Kelsey Nicholas stunned with a four-under 68 to finish a further shot back in third.

Mimmi Bergman from Sweden and Nicole Garcia carded rounds of 69 to share fourth, but local favourite Casandra Hall missed out on the three-way tie for fifth after a late bogey on the par four 16th saw her sign for 70.

Nobuhle Dlamini – back in action after a two week stint on the Ladies European Tour in Australia – dropped two shots early in the round, but the eSwatini golfer rallied with a trio of birdies to grab a seat on the distinctly international bus on one-under.

The 2019 Investec Order of Merit winner shares seventh with Standard Bank SA Women’s Masters champion Jane Turner from Scotland, India’s Shamilla Nicollet, Caroline Rominger from Switzerland, Dutch golfer Pasqualle Coffa, Leticia Rad-Anderica from Germany and South Africa’s Nicole Schoeman, who leads the 10-strong amateur challenge.

The day belonged to three-time former Investec SA Women’s Open Champion Buhai.

After an opening pair of birdies, the 28-year-old Johannesburg golfer followed a third gain on the seventh with an eagle on the par five eighth. She atoned for a lone bogey on the ninth with five birdies on the bounce from the par four 12th, which propelled her to the summit.

Just a little over a year since Buhai picked up her 10th title on the local circuit with a wire-to-wire performance in the Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open at Irene Country Club, South Africa’s leading golfer was delighted to set a blistering pace in her first start of the season.

“I’ve had a couple of other 63s before – on the East and West courses at my home club (Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club), at Durban Country Club and at Greenbay on the LPGA Tour – so it’s tough to compare, but it felt great to put a 63 on the card at Glendower, ” Buhai said.

“I believe it’s the lowest score since the changes to the course, but we had placing, so it won’t be an official course record. After all the rain on Sunday and Monday, the course played long and it was challenging in the wind. I played really well in Australia so my game was in good shape and I did some work with my coach Doug Wood last week. I hit my drives and long irons really well and I could wedge it close because the greens are still soft and receptive.

“I holed a nice 20-footer on the first and nearly holed my approach on the second, so it was a really great start. The next couple of holes is a tough stretch, but I kept it going and took advantage on seven and eight. I hit a bad tee shot on nine and took my punishment.

“I hit it close on 10 and 11 and missed the putts, but on 12 holed the birdie putt and that sparked the run. I hit a great bunker shot from 30 metres to eight foot on 13, a good 9-iron on 14 and holed a downhill putt and I got a little lucky on 15 after pulling my tee shot. Just knocked it on and holed a 25-footer for birdie. I Nice birdies, but that’s what happens when things are going your way.

“On 16, I made a really good birdie. I was in the left rough and I hit a hybrid about 20 foot left of the pin where I had to hit it too, and holed the putt. The last two holes was a little scrappy, but I scrambled well and I was proud of myself for saving two great pars. Really pleased with this start.”

The round was by no means stress-free, but her more relaxed attitude took the edge off.

“I’ve worked hard to stay more relaxed during the round and it is definitely helping me to score. I knew there is an expectation for me to do well, but I try not to put pressure on myself.”

Bregman has also been working hard on improvements to her game in the off-season and began to see the fruit of her labour in the Joburg Ladies Open last week.

“I played really well at Soweto Country Club, but I got a few unlucky bounces and I couldn’t quite get the measure of the greens,” Bregman said. “I felt confident, though, with the game I was bringing to Glendower. I hit a lot of fairways and greens today and I putted really well.

“Unfortunately I lipped out for birdie on the par five eighth, but I’m happy with birdies on two. The greens are absolutely awesome; you just have to allow enough break and trust your green reading. This course is such a good test of golf and probably one of the best courses in the country. To shoot five-under in a bogey-free round; I’m pretty chuffed with that.”

Nicholas, playing in her second season on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, was equally delighted with her performance. “I had four birdies on the front and I made a great birdie on 17. It was so unexpected. I was 15 metres away, but my caddie and I agreed on the line quickly and I just committed to the putt.

“It was in the whole way. I’ve never thrived at Glendower. My caddie kept saying its home course advantage and I kept saying Glendower and I don’t get along; I’m just over the moon with a 68,” said the Royal Johannesburg and Kensington golfer.

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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.

 

 


2nd August 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Buhai bursts clear at AIG British Women’s Open

2 August 2019 – South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai moved into a three-shot lead at the halfway point of the AIG Women’s British Open on Friday.

The Sunshine Ladies Tour champion backed up a leading seven-under-65 on day one with a flawless five-under-par round of 67, leaving her an impressive 12-under for the tournament at the Marquess’ Course at Woburn Golf and Country Club.

Buhai will go out in the final pairing with Hinako Shibuno from Japan on Saturday, who carded a 69 to finish in second. American Lizette Salas a further shot behind.

With Buhai playing in the afternoon field, Shibuno made an early move to set the club-house target at eight under.

An early birdie drew Buhai level with Shibuno, but after eight pars on the back nine, the Japanese holed a big putt at the 16th to get back in front:

Buhai was not daunted and saved her best for the final nine holes.

A birdie at the 11th put her back on terms with Shibuno and from there, she kicked on and made the most of the ideal conditions late in the day. On 13, Buhai made an excellent putt from off the fringe of the green, starting a run of three birdies in four holes.

“My goal going out today was to get to double figures,” said the three-time Ladies European Tour winner. “Once I got it to eight…nine…10-under, I felt more comfortable and was able to put my foot down.

“I managed to hit it really close on the 15th hole to like a tap-in birdie, and had a good shot into 16, tucked pin and then holed the putt. I was really steady on the front nine. I didn’t hit many shots close. I birdied my second hole with a good wedge, and hit a few good putts. I

“I’m trying not to keep thinking it’s a Major; it’s just another tournament. I’m really enjoying the way the golf course is playing. I think it helps that the conditions have just been so good and we haven’t had to deal with too many elements.”

The South African has put daylight between herself and her rivals and if she performs to the same standards over the weekend, it’s tough to see how anyone will stop Buhai from clinching her maiden major title.

However, there are a number of quality players within striking distance. .

Local favourite Charley Hull, targeting victory at her home course, tied for fourth, five shots back alongside world number two Sung-hyun Park from South Korea, Frenchwoman Celine Boutier, Bronte Law from England, Germany’s Caroline Masson.

Ko Jin-young from South Korea – winner of the last week’s Evian Championship and ANA Inspiration champion – is targeting her third major title this year. The world number one is on six-under and just five off the pace alongside defending champion Georgia Hall, among others.


1st August 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Buhai takes early command at Woburn

1 August 2019 – Ashleigh Buhai took the first-round lead at the AIG Women’s British Open on Thursday, seeking to become the second South African female Major winner, while South Korea’s Ko Jin-young started well in a quest to win back-to-back Majors.

Buhai’s best previous British Open finish was a tie for 30th in 2017 and she found herself in uncharted territory after notching eight birdies in a seven-under-par 65 at Woburn in Milton Keynes.

She may not have won on the LPGA Tour yet, but Buhai owns three Ladies European Tour titles and 11 victories on the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the experience showed as she recovered from her only bogey on the par-5 11th with consecutive birdies on holes 14, 15 and 16.

She headed American Danielle Kang and Japan’s Shibuno Hinako by one stroke, while local favourite Charley Hull was among a group two behind.

Four days after winning the Evian Championship in France, Ko continued her sizzling form with an eventful 68, while English defending champion Georgia Hall shot 69.

Buhai enjoyed a day when everything clicked and perhaps allowed her to dream of compatriot Sally Little as a major champion. Little won the 1980 Women’s PGA Championship and the 1988 du Maurier Classic.

“I’m feeling really confident with the putter and it’s been good the last few weeks,” said the 30-year-old Buhai. “Today I managed to hit a few more greens and rolled in the putts.

“In my last few tournaments, I’ve had three good rounds and one not so good round, so I’m hoping this is the week I can do four good rounds,” said Buhai, whose best finish this year was a tie for 11th. “The last few weeks, I have been just trying to stay mellow and keep everything in check, and it seems to be helping.”

Ko is seeking her third major title of the year after the Evian and ANA Inspiration in California in April.

It was not always such smooth sailing on the greens for the South Korean, who had a four-putt double-bogey at the 14th hole, where she missed a couple of three-footers.

That setback might have demoralised some players, but the world number one is made of sterner stuff.

She bounced back by hitting the cup with her approach shots at the par-five 15th and par-four 18th for what would have been a couple of most unlikely eagles.

Though neither fell in, she converted the birdie putts.

“The back nine was a lot of putts missed,” said Ko. “I tried to finish strong and I got a birdie on 18. It was a huge birdie.”


14th March 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Two-way tie leads at windy Westlake

14 March 2019 – The Cape southeaster played havoc with scoring in the opening round of the R2-million Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club on Thursday, with only two players in the 126-players field producing sub-par rounds.

Lina Boqvist from Sweden and Austrian Sarah Schober made the most of an early start to set an uncontested clubhouse target with rounds of one-under 71.

A level-par 72 on day one of the R2-million Investec SA Women’s Open left three-time champion Lee-Anne Pace one shot off the lead at Westlake Golf Club; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

The pair will head into the second round of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and Ladies European Tour co-sanctioned event with a slender one shot advantage over three-time champion Lee-Anne Pace from South Africa, Spain’s Silvia Banon and Sweden’s Julia Engstrom.

The afternoon field was in for particular punishment from the wind, which gusted over 50 kilometres per hour at times. Best placed among the late starters were Scotland’s Carly Booth and South African Stacy Bregman, who posted battling scores of two-over 72.

“It was really blowing out there,” exclaimed Kim Williams, a three-time former Sunshine Ladies Tour winner after a wild round that featured just three pars. The Pretoria golfer got off to a great start and held the outright lead at three-under midway. “I hit driver, 4-iron into the last hole, where we would normally be going in with a wedge.”

Williams eventually signed for a four-over 76, which was good enough for a share of 22nd.

Boqvist, who claimed a top-10 finish here last year, has started her season well and sits 18th on the Ladies European

Lina Boqvist from Sweden shares the first round lead in the R2-million Investec SA Women’s Open after an opening one-under-par 71 at Westlake Golf Club; credit Tristan Jones / LET

Tour (LET) Order of Merit.

“It’s been a long stretch away from home,” she said of a five-week spell that has taken her from her native Sweden to Abu Dhabi, across Australia and finally to Cape Town.

“I really want to finish well because I love this event. I finished strong here last year and I really want to do the same. My putting is really good right now and I feel like I can trust it, so hopefully it continues to get better through the rest of the week.”

Austria’s Schober mixed three birdies with two bogeys and managed to get into the clubhouse before the worst of the wind hit.

“Conditions were really tough out there,” she explained. “Off the tee it’s quite narrow and the holes that play into the wind can be very long.

“I think I made some really good decisions; that and some great was putting was the key to shooting 71. I had only 26 putts today. I didn’t hit many greens but I made some great up-and-downs at most of them to save par and keep the round going.”

Former top ranked South African amateur Kajal Mistry continued her fine run of form with a one-over-par 73 to grab a share of sixth.

More importantly for her, the GolfRSA Elite Squad player boosted her chances to make a run for the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit prize. Mistry currently second sits in third position, behind only Nobuhle Dlamini in the lead and less than 100 points behind Lejan Lewthwaite.

Dlamini from Swaziland, who won the sixth edition of the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge, carded 80, while SA Women’s Masters champion Lewthwaite signed for a battling 82.

Defending champion Ashleigh Buhai opened with 75, but will take comfort from the fact that she finished only four shots off the lead. The three-time champion failed to take advantage of the early start or the par fives and will need a better second round to get herself into contention for successive victories at Westlake.

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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.


| Sunshine Ladies Tour

Xasa tees off the Investec SA Women’s Open

SA Minister of Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa hits the official opening shot of the 2019 Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club; credit Tristan Jones / LET.

14 March 2019 – South Africa’s Minister of Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa put in a surprise appearance on day one of the Investec South African Women’s Open, and hit the ceremonial tee shot to officially open the R2-million event at Westlake Golf Club on Thursday.

This year is the second successive year that the event is co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Ladies Tour and Ladies European Tour (LET).

The field of 126 represent 26 nations and among the top starters are past and current LET champions Ashleigh Buhai and Lee-Anne Pace from South Africa, English duo Florentyna Parker and Megan MacLaren and French pair Astrid Vayson de Pradenne and Camille Chevalier.

The honourable minister was in Cape Town for cabinet meetings, but made space in her busy schedule to pop in at Westlake after a phone call from women’s sport journalist Cheryl Roberts on Wednesday afternoon.

“I was in back-to-back meetings, but I noticed a missed call from Cheryl. When I called her back, she asked me if I knew about the Investec SA Women’s Open and said I really should come to Westlake and see for myself what wonderful things the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Women’s PGA of South Africa are doing in women’s golf,” said Xasa.

“Women’s sport is very close to my heart and I like to support all initiatives that grow and develop women’s sport. I immediately confirmed with Lesley Copeman from World Sports Promotions that I would attend the opening and when they asked me if I would like to hit the opening tee shot, I thought, ‘Why not’?”

The honourable minister received a quick lesson from WPGA’s Barbara Pestana, herself a two-time former winner of the SA Women’s Open, and enthusiastically struck the ceremonial tee shot.

“It took three tries, but I got some good flight with my third shot,” laughed Xasa. “It’s a lot tougher than it looks on television.

“What a wonderful event and what a fantastic opportunity to see world class golfers in action while the young rookies and amateurs cut their teeth in a highly competitive environment. What you see her today is that golf represents much more than just a game; it is a platform that brings players from across the globe together and the Sunshine Ladies Tour helps drive South Africa forward by showcasing to the rest of the world the natural beauty and talent the country has to offer.”

3. SA Minister of Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa with 18-year-old GolfRSA Elite Squad player and Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member Kajal Mistry (centre) and Candice Buitendach from Investec ahead of the first round of the Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club; credit Tristan Jones / LET.

The field contesting the 54-hole tournament this week also features eight amateurs, who will compete for the Jackie Mercer Trophy, awarded to the leading amateur.

GolfRSA Elite Squad member Kajal Mistry spearheads the group. Having rubbed shoulders with the professionals since the start of the Sunshine Ladies Tour season, the 18-year-old Randpark golfer has surged to second in the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit, courtesy of a top four, a top eight, a top 20 and two runner-up finishes.

“It was pretty special to take a selfie with the Minister of Sport and Recreation,” said the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member.

“That’s not something that will happen every day. It was a great honour to meet her and I think it’s really cool that she came to the tournament. We watched her hit the opening shot and hopefully the golf bug has bitten her. It would be great if she could play in next year’s pro-am with us.”

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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.


25th February 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

More to play in #InvestecSAWomensOpen

25 February 2019 – Four weeks into the sixth season of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, the Investec South African Women’s Open is inching ever closer. The flagship event, co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour, returns to Westlake Golf Club in Cape Town from 14-16 March.

In a massive boost for women’s golf in South Africa, the winner this year stands to receive far more than just the lion’s share of the R2-million purse.

As a Ladies European Tour (LET) event, the champion will be exempt on the LET for the remainder of 2019.

Victory also comes with starts in the final two Majors of the year – the AIG Women’s British Open at Woburn Golf and Country Club and the Evian Championship at the Evian Resort in France.

With such incentives on offer, competition is set to be fierce, and the winner will have to hold off a strong field of local and international players.

With half the field coming from the LET, golf fans can expect to see the likes of Lee-Anne Pace and Becky Brewerton – both former LET Order of Merit winners – as well as past LET winners Astrid Vayson de Pradenne and Florentyna Parker from France and England’s Meghan Maclaren in action.

Three-time champion Ashleigh Buhai flew to Australia after winning the season-opening Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open. She tied for 11th in the LPGA Tour’s Vic Open and was joint 15th in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open two weeks ago.

Buhai is competing in the LET Australian Ladies Classic this week, trying to continue building form for her title defence at Westlake.

“It’s always great to return to a tournament as the defending champion, especially when it is played on the same course,” said Buhai. “I love the Westlake layout and I can’t wait to defend my title.

“I played really nicely in the two LPGA Tour events and I’m happy that my game is moving in the right direction. I’ve had some positive results after the work I did at the start of the season and I am motivated for another good performance this week,”

Last year’s Investec Property Fund Order of Merit winner Stacy Bregman is also lining up in the starting-field at the Bonville Golf Resort.

A fourth place finish at Westlake last year clinched the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit for the five-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner and she showed some great form at Irene, finishing second in the season-opener.

The 2019 Investec Property Fund Order of Merit stretches over eight Sunshine Ladies Tour events and is based on a points system.

The overall winner at the conclusion of the season receives a bonus prize of R100 000.

The top three placed professionals on the final Investec Property Fund Order of Merit will gain automatic entry into the 2020 Investec South African Women’s Open and the champion will be granted a start in Ladies European Tour School Final Stage in December 2019.

“The 2019 champion will also receive an invitation to complete in one of the Ladies European Tour premier events,” said LET Chairman Mark Lichtenhein.

“The Investec South African Women’s Open holds an important place on the LET calendar and our players are thrilled to be heading back to Westlake in the wonderful City of Cape Town after such a fantastic Investec South African Women’s Open in 2018.

“We applaud the important sponsorship commitment from Investec Property and the City of Cape Town, which empowers women’s golf and helps to elevate the game and build champions. We look forward to collaborating with our friends at the WPGA, Sunshine Ladies Tour and World Sports Promotions on another successful event.”

Entry is free for all spectators attending the Investec SA Women’s Open from 14-16 March 2019 at Westlake Golf Club.

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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.


1st February 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Buhai goes wire-to-wire at Irene

1 February 2019 – South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai went wire-to-wire at Irene Country Club to complete a convincing four-shot victory on eight-under in the Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open on Friday.

She could not match her opening two rounds of 67 and 68, but with a lone bogey over three rounds, the win was never in doubt and she pushed her winning tally on the local circuit to 10 with a final round one-over 73.

Defending champion Stacy Bregman soared up the leaderboard with a closing four-under 68 to finish second on her own at four-under.

Yet another South African Lejan Lewthwaite also made strides with a third round 68 to take third on two-under. England’s Lauren Taylor was fourth on one-under and former Investec South African Women’s Open champion Tandi Mc Callum from South Africa completed the top-five on level par for the week.

“I’m very happy to pull off the win this week in the first tournament of the year,” said Buhai, whose only drop in the tournament was a soft bogey at the 52nd hole.

“Today was quite scrappy, but that’s just what you have to do to try win. Thank goodness there were no pictures on the scorecard. I learnt that I just had to stay patient and keep grinding.

“The course I played a little tougher. There were some low scores, but thank goodness I had that seven-shot lead starting the round. I knew I had that comfort zone. After nine, I knew I wasn’t going to hit it close, so I just started going for the big part of the greens and taking my two-putts to make as many pars as I could coming in.

“I think a few years ago I would have got more frustrated with myself, and probably made quite a few more bogeys. Today, I trusted my ability, especially with my putter. I made one bogey in 54 holes, so I’m really chuffed with that.”

Despite the comprehensive triumph, the 29-year-old Buhai said she was not totally satisfied.

“My goal was to get to double-figures, and then push on from there. When I had a six-shot lead with nine to go, it was just about grinding it so no one could catch me. Double figures was still my goal, even coming down the last. I was still trying to make birdie even though I just bogeyed 17.

“Overall, it was a good tester to see where I’m at and where I can improve. The main positive is that if I’ve got a sharp short game when I’m not hitting it well, I can still score.”

Buhai had just hit her tee shot into the par three 13th when play was suspended due to lightning. It turned out to be a short delay, with the players resuming within the hour. The disruption was far from ideal, but Buhai was still up to the task of closing out an emphatic victory.

“On 13, I hit one of the few iron shots that I flushed the whole day,” she said. “I thought I finally got something going and then we went off. I just had to accept it. Luckily we weren’t called off for too long. My first drive back, my hand slipped in the rain and I hit it out right. I had to punch out but I got it up-and-down from 60 metres to keep the momentum going. Overall, I’m happy with the week but disappointed with today.”

“Any time you shoot under par, you take the positives out of that,” said Buhai. She paid tribute to the sponsors for helping the event proceed.

“A huge thanks to Canon for coming on board and for sticking with us these last three years,” said the world number 116. “Without sponsors, it wouldn’t be possible. And to Investec, they have been our biggest supports and it’s great to have them on board again. The Sunshine Ladies Tour is growing every year and that’s what we want to see.”

Buhai leaves on Saturday to compete in two LPGA events and one LET event in Australia and returns in March to take up her title defence in the R2-million Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake, which is co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour.

Bregman, who won the 2018 Investec Property Fund Order of Merit last year and former LPGA Tour winner Lee-Anne Pace, who withdrew after nine holes in the second round after the onset of a migraine, will also be making the trip down under.

Eighteen-year-old Symone Henriques was second after an opening round 70.

She slipped from contention with an 80 in the second round, but bounced back to overtake fellow GolfRSA Elite Squad player Kajal Mistry with a final round 74 to win the amateur honours on eight-over 224.

The Sunshine Ladies Tour moves to Serengeti Estates next for the inaugural Serengeti Team Championship on 5 and 6 February. Teams of two will compete in the Betterball format for the lion’s share of the R100 000 prize fund. 

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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.


31st January 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Buhai bursts clear in Canon Sunshine Ladies Open

31 January 2019 – South Africa’s top ranked Ashleigh Buhai  remains the player to catch with 18 holes remaining in the Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open at Irene Country Club.

A bogey-free five-under-par 67 on the opening day boosted Buhai to the top of the leaderboard and she continued her stunning start in the 2019 season-opener with another flawless performance on day two.

1. Ashleigh Buhai set the 36-hole mark in the Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open at nine-under at Irene Country Club; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

The Johannesburg professional will take a staggering seven-shot lead into the final round after a four-under 68 moved her to nine-under 135.

“Obviously I am very happy with my score, although I felt I played a lot better in the first round,” said Buhai, who is gunning for her 10th title on the local circuit.

“You know, two weeks ago I was really glad the Sunshine Ladies Tour was starting a little later this year. I took a five week break after a long stretch on the LPGA Tour at the end of last year and I was so rusty. I worked hard in the past two weeks and it’s great to see really positive results.”

Buhai started the second round three shots clear. She extended her lead with a birdie at the par five second and kept her advantage intact with a further gain at eight.

“Coming into the round, I wanted to maintain that three-shot lead,” she said. “I managed to do that with the two birdies on the front nine, but the back nine was a little iffy. I managed to scramble well to keep myself in it.

“I made a really good par-save at 10 after I hit it in the trees. I had to punch out and made the up-and-down for par from 60 metres out. I birdied the next hole and I stayed patient, because I knew I had some short holes coming where I could take advantage with wedges.

“I missed two greens, but I didn’t feel that I hit bad shots. I kept it going with good pars. I hit a good shot into the 17th and lipped out for birdie, but I finally got rewarded with the birdie on 18.”

Is she surprised to be leading by such a huge margin after two rounds?

“The course is playing relatively long after all the rain and the kikuyu is heavy,” she said. “Although the greens are soft and you can fire at the flags, you have to keep it in play. I’ve missed very few fairways and greens and I’m still bogey-free after 36 holes, which is a first for me, but I think that’s why I’ve pulled away from the field.”

2. Rookie Casandra Hall from Benoni moved to second at the 36-hole mark of the Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open at Irene Country Club; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

Benoni rookie Casandra Hall and former Ladies European Tour winner Anne-Lise Caudal from France join Buhai in Friday’s leading group.

Hall was even-par at the start of the round and got it four-under during her outward loop. The 2018 SA Amateur Women’s Stroke Play champion made three bogeys on the bounce coming home, but a birdie-finish for a round of 70 moved her to two-under.

Caudal also returned a 70 to finish a further shot back.

“I’m looking forward to playing with Anne-Lise and Cass,” said the world number 116. “Anne-Lise and I have known each since I first went to play the Ladies European Tour and we are good friends. She is very solid tee to green and I expect her to go low in the final round.

“We actually played in Tuesday’s pro-am together. She is a great girl and a talented golfer and she can bomb the ball. She takes photos of my drives! She’s played really well over the last two days and it’s nice to see her in the leading group in her first event as a rookie.”

AMATEUR CHALLENGE

3. The youngest starter to make the cut and in her first start! SAGDB member & GolfRSA TDI Squad player Pheletso Mota (16) during the Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open at Irene Country Club; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

Top ranked Kajal Mistry leads the leading amateur challenge on five-over after carding rounds of 72 and 77. Fellow GolfRSA Elite Squad player Symone Henriques is a further shot back.

Three more amateurs made the cut to the top 30 professionals and ties, which fell at 156.

Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member Larissa Du Preez (153) and Alison Muirhead from Scotland (156) will join the line-up alongside SADGB member Pheletso Mota.

The GolfRSA Talent Identification Squad player from Kroonstad bounced back after an opening 81 with a 74 to finish on 155, making her the youngest starter at 16 years old in Friday’s final round at Irene Country Club.

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SOCIAL MEDIA CANON SUNSHINE LADIES TOUR OPEN
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HASHTAG – #CanonSLTOpen

 

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.