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5th April 2021 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

SA’s top pros primed to throw down the gauntlet in Cape Town

CAPE TOWN, 5 April 2021 – South African leading lights Nicole Garcia, Monique Smit and Lejan Lewthwaite aim to make statement of intent when the 2021 Sunshine Ladies Tour launches in Cape Town this week.

The eighth season gets underway with the Cape Town Ladies Open at Royal Cape Golf Club from 7-9 April, where the field will vie for the lion’s share of the R200 000 prize fund and an early move on the season-long Investec Order of Merit race.

“Six weeks, six events, more than R6-million in prize money and a load of amazing incentives; you bet we are champing at the bit to get going,” said Garcia.

A three-time winner on Africa’s premier women’s professional golf circuit, Garcia missed a full season in 2019 due to hip surgery. She had high hopes of making a comeback last year, but the global Covid-19 pandemic put paid to her plans.

“The last 12 months has been frustrating, especially for the Ladies European Tour (LET) campaigners,” she said. “South Africa went into the Level 5 lockdown shortly after the Investec South African Women’s Open and the LET also pressed pause on their 2020 schedule until August.

“With the long breaks between events and trying to work around all the travel restrictions, the season was really a write-off for most of us. That’s why we all are so eager to push the reset button.

“We are incredibly blessed that the Sunshine Ladies Tour sponsors and partners are backing us in these trying times. The Sunshine Ladies Tour tagline this season is “level up” and it is certainly the right time for all of us to embrace that and take things to the next level.”

Smit echoed Garcia’s thoughts.

“It was definitely a season of highs and lows,” said the George golfer, who won the 2020 Investec Order of Merit, courtesy of victory in the Joburg Ladies Open and a runner-up finish in the Investec South African Women’s Open.

“It was ironic that I hit the best form of my career in the worst year ever. I had such a fantastic season at home, and qualified for my first AIG Women’s Open. The rest of the season is hardly worth mentioning, but I did qualify as a barista during the lockdown, so there is that silver lining.

“I am really excited to kick off this season with a bang. Besides the prize money, we have so many incentives to shoot for this year. There are chances to secure starts in the Jabra Ladies Open, which is the qualifying event for The Amundi Evian Championship, and the Big Green Egg Dutch Ladies Open in the Netherlands, not to mention all the opportunities this year’s Investec South African Women’s Open offers the South Africans.

“Besides earning tour winner’s status for the LET, it’s the qualifying tournament for the U.S. Women’s Open. Imagine having the chance to qualify for the biggest major right here on home soil.

“Plus, if the winner is a South African, she’ll win the Investec Homegrown Award, which is worth another R100 000. For a seasoned pro or an up-and-coming rookie that’s a huge bonus to use towards travel costs. And, of course, R100 000 for winning the Investec Order of Merit. It’s all to play for this year.”

Lewthwaite, who won the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge and the SuperSport Ladies Challenge, hosted by Sun International last year, finished third on the Investec Order of Merit and was primed to play her first full season on the LET.

“I definitely had high hopes after a successful season at home, but at least I did get to play a few LET events and gain some invaluable experience. So I am ready to pick up where I left off and I think this season is going to be incredible.
“We see more international players come out to South Africa year-on-year because the Sunshine Ladies Tour is so perfectly positioned to build competitive form before the European season starts.

“And this year we should see even more top professionals on the tour with the Investec South African Women’s Open being a qualifier for the U.S. Women’s Open. That’s great news for the seasoned pros and the rookies and the amateurs, too. I cut my teeth on the Sunshine Ladies Tour when I came back from college in the USA and it is such a great circuit to build experience.”

The Sunshine Ladies Tour’s most prolific winner Lee-Anne Pace will headline the field in the season-opener in the Mother City. The LPGA champion will be chasing an unprecedented fourth Cape Town Ladies Open title, having won the event in 2016, 2018 and 2020.

Other players on the watch list include LET campaigners Stacy Bregman, Casandra Hall and eSwatini standout Nobuhle Dlamini, Sunshine Ladies Tour winners Jane Turner from Scotland and France’s Anne-Lise Caudal and rising stars Ivanna Samu, Zethu Myeki, Cara Gorlei, Michaela Fletcher and Tara Griebenow.

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31st January 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Pace seals Cape Town Ladies Open hat-trick in style

31 January 2020 – Lee-Anne Pace hopes her Cape Town Ladies Open hat-trick is a good omen as she begins to resuscitate her career on the Sunshine Ladies Tour in 2020.

Pace successfully wrapped up her 25th career victory with a five-shot victory on eight under par after closing with a five-under 67 on a blustery final day at King David Mowbray Golf Club on Friday.

Her last visit to the winner’s circle was in the same event two years ago at Royal Cape Golf Club and her first success was also at Royal Cape in 2016.

“I’m super, super happy,” said Pace as she hugged the trophy and flashed a big, white toothy smile at the applauding crowd during prize giving.

”I didn’t expect it this week. Last year was a write-off; I just didn’t enjoy it anymore. I missed two cuts and decided to take a total break from the game. The break did me the world of good, but I didn’t expect I played two events in the last six months and missed the cut in both, so I didn’t really expect to start this well. But time away from the game was really good for me. I am in a good place in my life and I felt very comfortable out there. I am enjoying it again. This is the perfect to start building form for the Ladies European Tour.”

Pace opened with an even-par 72 and dipped three shots below par in the second round to start the final day one shot behind Dlamini on four-under.

She reeled in three birdies over the first six holes, and managed to come through the second and fourth holes relatively unscathed. “I doubled the second hole and bogeyed the fourth in the first two rounds, so that cost me four shots,” Pace said. “I don’t know what it is about that second hole, but I bogeyed it again in the final round. Luckily the birdies on one, three and six gave me a boost.”

Lee-Anne Pace credited her young caddie, Jere Brits from Paarl, for her 13th Sunshine Ladies Tour title. The 16-year-old Bridge Fund Managers Junior Series finalist guided the former LPGA and Ladies European Tour winner to a hat-trick of wins in the Cape Town Ladies Open at King David Mowbray Golf Club.

Pace lauded her caddie, 16-year-old Bridge Fund Manager Junior Series finalist Jere Brits from Paarl, for guiding her to the winner’s circle.

“Jere had been absolutely brilliant all week and he deserves a lot of credit. He gave me all the right clubs, the lines and the pace and even an eagle at the 14th. I wanted to hit an 8-iron and he talked me into a seven, and we got the eagle.”

Two perfectly-timed shots on the ultimate hole set her up for a birdie finish and she nailed it.

With a record setting start to the 2020 season, how much would Pace like to finish it off with a record fourth triumph in the Investec South African Women’s Open in middle-March?

“It’s definitely in the back of my mind, as is winning the Investec Order of Merit,” she said. “I got so close last year, and I would love to get the win. That trophy comes with spots in the British Women’s Open and the Evian Championship and LET membership until the end of 2021. More than anything, it would be great to be the first four-time winner.

“It was a really great week with the putter and I was driving it better every day, so I am looking forward to the rest of the season, and to keep on building form. And hopefully Jere’s mom and dad will let me borrow him again for Westlake.”

While Pace was in blistering form, Dlamini struggled to recreate the magic of her second round 67.

The 2019 Investec Order of Merit winner paid the penalty of an errant drive at the par four second with a double bogey and had to settle for second on three-under.

Durbanville rookie Tara Griebenow played the final round with Pace and Dlamini and finished an impressive third on level par after rounds of 73, 71 and 72.

Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member Larissa du Preez bagged the Leading Amateur honour.

The Silver Lakes golfer carded rounds of 73, 75 and 73 to tie American Jordy LaBarbera for eighth overall on five-over 221.

The Sunshine Ladies Tour travels to Sun City next for the R400 000 SuperSport Ladies Challenge presented by Sun International at the Gary Player and Lost City Courses from 4-6 February.

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

 


30th January 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Dlamini edges ahead in Cape Town Ladies Open

30 January 2020 – A well-rested Nobuhle Dlamini took advantage of a breeze caressing the King David Mowbray Golf Club fairways to edge into the 36-hole lead on day two of the Cape Town Ladies Open.

The big-hitting eSwatini golfer fired a bogey-free five-under-par 67 on Thursday to move to four-under, one shot clear of 12-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Lee-Anne Pace, who posted 69.

Given Dlamini’s form and Pace’s extensive competitive experience, the smart money would be on the pair to go-head-to-head to bank the first winner’s cheque of the 2020 season, but Durbanville rookie Tara Griebenow and seasoned French campaigner Astrid Vayson De Pradenne are still both firmly in contention.

The pair returned rounds of 71 to stay in touch, finishing in a tie for third on level par.

Lejan Lewthwaite and last season’s SuperSport Ladies Challenge winner Jane Turner are not completely out of the running. Reigning SA Women’s Masters champion Lewthwaite carded 71 to finish on one-over, and a 72 left Scotland’s Turner sitting on two-over.

Dlamini had to hit the ground running after she only landed back in South Africa on the eve of the season-opening event, having secured her Ladies European Tour card with a top 8 finish at the Q-School in Spain at the weekend.

She made an impressive start and led the field by two shots after nine holes, but when fatigue set in on the inward loop, a number of bogeys saw her slip to one-over 73 and she started the second round one shot behind Pace.

“I slept really well and felt like a new person this morning,” said Dlamini, who racked up four birdies before the turn. “I felt really comfortable out there. I played the course for the first time during the first round and with the wind gusting so strong, it was pretty daunting.

“I liked the layout, but I wasn’t sharp. It’s not a course where you can pull driver out of the bag on every hole. Today I hit a lot of long irons and I drove the ball really well. I made some very good putts on the front, but the putter fell asleep on the back nine. I was happy to make two putts for pars until one finally dropped for birdie on 17.

“Playing with Lee-Anne in the final round will be interesting. She may not have played for a while, but she is so experienced. You can never underestimate her.”

Lee-Anne Pace; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour

Pace sandwiched a double bogey between birdies at the first and third holes. The former LPGA Tour champion erased another dropped shot at the fourth with gains on seven and nine and reeled in two more birdies coming home.

“Another up-and-down start for me,” laughed Pace. “I hit a much better drive today on the second, and doubled it again. Tomorrow I’m hitting 6-iron, 6-iron and hopefully a chip-and-putt will get me a par. I dropped the fourth again, too. Luckily I had a couple of early birdies to help me out.

“I made quite a lot of birdies when I struck the ball well and found the fairways, and I was happy to finish with a birdie at the last. At least it warmed up nicely. It’s a tough course. It’s really tight, especially when the wind blows.

“Overall, I’m happy that I can see my game improving in every round and I look forward to going toe-to-toe with Nobby in the final round.”

Dlamini and Pace will be playing in the final group with Griebenow, who held her own in the heady company of Dlamini and fellow Ladies European Tour campaigner Lewthwaite.

“It’s her Sunshine Ladies Tour debut and she properly being tested, but I was so impressed with how focussed and calm she was out there. She has a great attitude. Nothing beats experience and it’s great for her to be playing with us in the leading group on Friday,” Dlamini said.

Tara Griebenow; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour

Griebenow completed her PGA Diploma at The Golf School of Excellence at the Paul McKenzie Academy last year and the Western Province rookie tested the waters in a few Vodacom Origins of Golf series events last year.

“I won the Humewood event, which was a great experience but competing on the Sunshine Ladies Tour is a different league. The atmosphere on the Origins series is more relaxed because you are playing with amateurs, but this is the big time,” said the 23-year-old. “It was great to watch the way Nobby and Lejan managed their games and stay in the moment. Playing with Nobby and Lee-Anne in the final round will be another big learning opportunity for me and I can’t wait.”

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

 


29th January 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Classy Pace credits young caddie for Cape Town lead

29 January 2020 – Lee-Anne Pace was right where she loves to be when action wrapped up on day one of the Cape Town Ladies Open in the Mother City on Monday.

Confirming the old adage that form is temporary, but class is permanent, Pace went around King David Mowbray’s 5,622 metre course in level par 72 to open up a one-shot lead in the Sunshine Ladies Tour 2020 season-opener.

The former LPGA Tour winner and nine-time Ladies European Tour champion was delighted to lay down a marker in the 2020 Sunshine Ladies Tour season-opener.

“I played maybe four competitive rounds in the last six months and I haven’t played the course before, so my expectations was pretty low,” Pace said. “I made a really bad start with a double on the second hole and a quick bogey after on the fourth.

“I got one shot back on the sixth and had a pair of birdies coming home to get it back to level. But really, my caddie was the hero of the day. He was absolutely brilliant.”

Lee-Anne Pace credited her 16-year-old caddie, Durbanville amateur Jere Brits, for guiding her to the first round lead in the 2020 Sunshine Ladies Tour season-opening Cape Town Ladies Open at King David Mowbray Golf Club; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

Sixteen-year-old Jere Brits, a Bridge Fund Managers Junior Series winner who plays out of Durbanville Golf Club, is the son of one of Pace’s close friends.

“Jere knows the course really well and I asked him to take the bag. The course is definitely interesting. It is heavily tree-lined and with the wind gusting at 45 km per hour, it was playing very tight. He was brilliant with clubbing, the lines and the greens. I couldn’t have done it without him. Jere wanted to get a little taste of the pro circuit, and it’s nice that he is learning a little bit from me, but really, it’s the other way around. He is teaching me a great deal.”

Pace leads by one shot from a group of four players, including last year’s Investec Order of Merit winner Nobuhle Dlamini.

Fresh from securing her card for the 2020 Ladies European Tour season, the Dlamini lived up to her billing as the pre-tournament favourite when she turned two-under, but fatigue caught up with the big-hitting eSwatini golfer on the homeward stretch.

A series bogeys coming home will see Dlamini start the second round in joint second on one-over with Astrid Vayson De Pradenne from France, Durbanville rookie Tara Griebenow and Silver Lakes amateur Larissa du Preez.

“I was driving the ball really well at the start of the round, but definitely felt myself fading on the back nine,” she said. “I hit some bad shots, including the 7-iron that landed me in the water on 18. I am not too unhappy with the score, though.

“I arrived back from Spain on yesterday morning and only checked into the hotel here in Cape Town close to midnight after some delays with my flight. I could feel my focus slipping on the back nine, but I love this course. It really suits my eye and my game. Hopefully I get a really good night’s sleep and I can give Lee-Anne a run for her money in the second round.”

Reigning SA Women’s Masters champion Lejan Lewthwaite and 2019 SuperSport Ladies Challenge winner Jane Turner from Scotland – who both broke through for maiden titles on the windy KwaZulu-Natal south coast last year – carded matching 74s to tie seventh.

Catherine Lau from Woodhill, 2019 Jabra Ladies Classic winner Anne-Lise Caudal from France and American Jordy LaBarbera, making her debut on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, rounded out the top 10 on three-over 75.

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For more schedule information or to follow the live scoring, log on to www.sunshineladiestour.com 

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


28th January 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Myeki relishing pro debut in Cape Town Ladies Open

28 January 2020 – Coming off a glittering amateur career, former GolfRSA Protea Zethu Myeki is relishing her debut in the professional ranks on home soil in this week’s Cape Town Ladies Open, hosted by the City of Cape Town.

With 12-time champion Lee-Anne Pace spearheading the challenge, former number two ranked Myeki will further enhance the strong field in the 2020 Sunshine Ladies Tour opener at King David Mowbray Golf Club from 29-31 January.

“I played in some events over the last two years as an amateur and the competition is fierce,” said the Randpark golfer. “It really tests your ability and character and it will be a stern examination me, but I am really excited to get my pro career underway.

“Thanks to GolfRSA, Women’s Golf South Africa, Ladies Golf Gauteng and the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation, I had a lot of opportunities to gain experience. I made a lot of steps in my amateur career and I feel well prepared to take the next step.”

Mdantane-born Myeki became the first black golfer to earn national colours in 2016 when she represented South Africa in the All-Africa Challenge Trophy in Tunisia and she proudly wore the green and gold on six more occasions, going out in style with a top nine finish in the Girls Competition at the 2019 Spirit International in the United States.

After completing a Golf Club Management degree through the Club Managers Association of America at the end of last year, the 26-year-old decided to join former South African Golf Development Board stable-mates Yolanda and Siviwe Duma on the premier women’s professional circuit in Africa.

“This is probably the most challenging step of my career, but the way I played last year has given me a lot of confidence,” Myeki said.

“Being part of the GolfRSA Elite Squad gave me exposure to so many benefits. I have been working with Costanza Trussoni on my game for about two years now and I am striking the ball better than I have done in years.

“My short game is dependable and I feel very confident with the putter in my hand. I am also making better decisions on the course. I am able to stay in the moment and play shot-for-shot. I can concentrate on my own shots. I don’t think playing with professionals will intimidate me.

“I don’t expect to come out guns blazing, but I have set myself some targets for the season. I hope to learn and improve over the next few weeks to take an A-Game to the Investec SA Women’s Open at Westlake in March.”

Myeki hopes the opening chapter of her professional career at King David Mowbray’s 5,622 metre, par 72 course goes off smoothly.

“I haven’t played this course before, which is a bit daunting, but I was happy to see that it has a similar layout to Westlake, Royal Cape and Clovelly, which I’ve played many times before. It’s very tight and tree-lined, and you will have to manage your game really well off the tees. Driving is one of my strengths, so hopefully that will work to my advantage,” she said.

“I think I will probably have a few butterflies in my stomach on the first tee, but if I approach it as just another tournament, I should do just fine. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Myeki will not be the only first-timer making her Sunshine Ladies Tour debut this week.

Former SA Women’s Amateur champion Cara Gorlei, Michaela Fletcher, Tara Griebenow, Luzelle Booysen and Cassidy Booysens will also have the opportunity to play alongside the cream of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, with Pace, last year’s Investec Order of Merit winner Nobuhle Dlamini, 2019 Jabra Ladies Classic champion Anne-Lise Caudal from France and former winners Stacy Bregman, Nicole Garcia, Kim Williams, Lejan Lewthwaite and SuperSport Ladies Challenge champion Jane Turner all in action this week.

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


27th January 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Is Dlamini the player to beat in Cape Town?

27 January 2020 – In-form Nobuhle Dlamini will be bidding for a second Investec Order of Merit title when she launches her 2020 Sunshine Ladies Tour season  in the Cape Town Ladies Open this week.

The R200 000 season-opener, hosted by the City of Cape Town for a sixth successive year, will be contested at King David Mowbray Golf Club from 29-31 January.

Coming off a superb showing in the Ladies European Tour Qualifying School in Spain, few would bet against the big-hitting eSwatini golfer starting her seventh season in the pro ranks on a winning note.

As an amateur, Dlamini was a dominant force, but she struggled to transition to the pro ranks.

The pedigree was there, though. She racked up 16 top 10 finishes over the first three years and finally broke her professional duck at the Sun SuperSport Ladies Challenge in 2018.

The self-belief that took her to number two in the amateur world rankings came flooding back and a wave of confidence propelled Dlamini to the top of the standings in 2019.

She won the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am and Joburg Ladies Open, had runner-up finishes in the Jabra Ladies Classic and SuperSport Ladies Challenge and confirmed her dominance with further success in the Investec Royal Swazi Ladies and victory in the Vodacom Origins of Golf Ladies Final.

Dlamini said the key to her overnight success was simple. She didn’t try so hard.

“I’ve been hitting the ball for a very long time and I was just waiting for a break, but I was also trying to force things all the time. I just decided to stop forcing it. I focused on letting the winning come through the process. As a result, I was much more relaxed and the trophies started piling up,” Dlamini said at the end of the 2019 season.

“My mistake when I turned pro was that I tried to change and get my game perfect. But you are not perfect. My advice to any amateur out there would be to not try to change too much. As an amateur, you get to where you are because it works, so don’t change when you turn pro.”

That self-belief – illustrated most emphatically at Fancourt, where she drained a 25-footer at the final hole in the last round with authority to win the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am – was on display once again in Spain.

Dlamini took her blistering form to Europe, but playing on a limited card proved frustrating. She struggled to build momentum with sporadic starts and weeks off between events and narrowly missed the top 80 cut-off at the end of the 2019 on the Ladies European Tour (LET) season.

Forced to make a return trip to Q-School this January, she landed a top 10 spot with an opening round of 71 on the South Course at the Real Golf La Manga Club and kept her foot on the pedal throughout the gruelling 90-hole test to clinch her card for 2020 with a top eight finish.

With her future in Europe secure, Dlamini has set some lofty goals for 2020 Sunshine Ladies Tour – a second Investec Order of Merit title and the ultimate prize: in the season-finale Investec South African Women’s Open at West Lake Golf Club in March.

After a week of challenging weather conditions in Spain, the infamous Cape Town South Easter could further strengthen her chances.

Dlamini won the SA Women’s Amateur Championship in a windy 36-hole final at Royal Cape in 2009. She went wire-to-wire at Umhlali Country Club in even more blustery conditions to lift the 2012 SA Women’s Stroke Play title. She braved gale force conditions at the Wild Coast Sun for her maiden success on the Sunshine Ladies Tour. And gusty conditions put a premium on her skills in the wind during both of her victory marches on the Vodacom Origins of Golf Tour last year.

“Windy conditions doesn’t worry me,” said the 27-year-old.

“You have to play the holes into the wind well. On the other holes, if it comes off the side or from behind, you can use it to your advantage. King David Mowbray is a tight course and heavily tree-lined. The greens usually roll true and have a nice speed. You just have to keep the ball in play. The course isn’t that long and if you are hitting it well, you can score. The key this week to winning is fairways, greens and a hot putter.”

To get the first win in the bag though, Dlamini will have to stave off some stiff competition all seeking a winning start in the City of Cape Town.

Former LPGA Tour winner Lee-Anne Pace is hunting a hat-trick of Cape Town Ladies Open titles and last year’s Jabra Ladies Classic champion Anne-Lise Caudal from France hopes to convert successive runner-up finishes in 2018 and 2019 into gold, while former Sunshine Ladies Tour champions Stacy Bregman, Nicole Garcia, Kim Williams and Jane Turner from Wales, and reigning SA Women’s Masters champion Lejan Lewthwaite are also primed to pose a significant challenge.

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