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13th March 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Cowan takes control of Investec South African Women’s Open

13 March 2020 – Germany’s Olivia Cowan took control of the Investec South African Women’s Open on Friday, firing a second round 67 to lead on seven-under-par heading into the final round in the City of Cape Town.

The 23-year-old began the afternoon session in hot and sunny conditions on the 10th tee at Westlake Golf Club and picked up her first birdie at the par five 13th.

She then made three birdies on the bounce from the 15th and, although she gave a shot back to the field on the par-four second hole, further gains on the fourth and fifth holes kept her well clear of the chasing pack.

The fourth-year Ladies European Tour campaigner dropped another shot the ninth, but will still sleep on a three-shot cushion.

Scotland’s Kelsey MacDonald, Alice Hewson from England and Italian Lucrezia Colombotto Rosso are three strokes back in joint second.

Recent Joburg Ladies Open winner Monique Smit leads the local challenge. The Oubaai golfer carded 71 to finish a further stroke adrift and is tied for fifth with Emma Nilsson from Sweden.

Valdis Thora Jonsdottir from Iceland and Megan MacLaren from England share seventh on two-under.

A second round 73 saw three-time winner Ashleigh Buhai slip to one-over. The South African rounds out the top 10 on 143 with Maha Haddioui from Marocco, Manon de Roey from Belgium, Dane Emily Pedersen and Sweden’s Julia Engstrom.

Former Youth Olympian Kaiyuree Moodley was the only amateur to survive the cut to 60 and ties, which fell at six-over 150. The GolfRSA Elite Squad player and Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member will start the last 18 holes on five-over after rounds of 75 and 74.

Thirty-six hole leader Cowan is long overdue for a first Ladies European Tour (LET) victory.

A three-time winner on the LET Access Series in 2015, Cowan won the Order of Merit the same year to graduate to the LET. In 2019, she enjoyed a career best tie for second in the Dubai Moonlight Classic, which was one of her seven top-10 finishes from 16 starts last season.

She ended seventh on the LET Order of Merit for the second year in a row.

She made a strong start to the 2020 season in Australia, tying for 15th in the Women’s New South Wales Open and began the week in South Africa ranked 28th on the Race to Costa del Sol Order of Merit.

Cowan attributed her solid second round to great ball striking and a well-behaved putter.

“I was hitting my irons close and putting well, so I had a lot of chances, most of which I took. I’d say the best part of my game was my putting,” she said.

The German golfer also felt that the tranquil conditions over the last two days had a lot to do with the bunched leaderboard.

“The last two years here was really windy, so it’s very different this year. The course is in great shape and it’s like any other LPGA or LET tournament, so really good. This is my first time being in this position, where I am a couple of shots ahead of everyone going into the final round. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and seeing what happens.”

MacDonald was just as happy to be in contention.

“I’m very happy with my performance today. I hit a lot of greens and gave myself a lot of chances. I’m very happy going into the final round, given how I played today. The greens were a little slower in the morning, but when it started to heat up they sped up significantly. You could notice the difference and that was something I had to be mindful of during the round.”

English rookie Hewson, making her LET debut in Cape Town, was thrilled with back-to-back 70s and the chance to emulate last year’s rookie winner Diksha Dagar from India. “I’m really happy with how I played today. I putted really well, which I think is really important out here.

“I also drove the ball well. I just need to work on my irons. It was nice to get off to a good start with three birdies in a row from my second hole. It’s very exciting to be here and finally get going. This is living the dream, really. It’s a beautiful place to be. Yesterday we went to Boulders Beach to see the penguins and maybe tomorrow we will go to Table Mountain.”

Colombotto Rosso, who dug deep for a 71, made some incredible par saving putts.

“I enjoyed the round a lot. I rolled in some incredible putts, from 10 or 15 metres, which I didn’t expect and I was having a lot of fun. I’m trying to take the best out of every round. Chipping in this kikuyu grass is a bit challenging for me, so I’m really proud that I made some birdies when I needed to. I was a little angry with the bogey on 16, so it was good that I birdied 18. It was a good comeback.”

The final round tees off at 08h30 on Sunday morning from both tees.

The final putts are expected to drop around 15h00 and the 2020 champion will be crowned on the 18th green. In addition to lifting the spectacular trophy, the winner also receives a two year exemption on the LET until the end of 2021, a place in the Evian Championship and the AIG Women’s British Open and the lion’s share of the 200,000 prize fund.

Moodley will be standing next to the champion, receiving the Jackie Mercer Trophy as the leading amateur.

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

 

 

 


| Sunshine Ladies Tour

Garcia shares early lead in Investec SA Women’s Open

12 March 2020 – Nicole Garcia made the most of the tranquil conditions at Westlake Golf Club on Thursday to grab a share of the four-way tie for the lead on the opening day of the €200 000 Investec SA Women’s Open in the City of Cape Town.

The three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner offset a lone bogey with a quartet of birdies for a 69 to join Olivia Cowan from Austria, Italian Lucrezia Colombotto Rosso and Sweden’s Emma Nilsson at the summit on three-under-par.

Compatriot Ashleigh Buhai – the highest ranked player in the field at 103rd in the world rankings and a three-time champion of the event – birdied her last two holes for two-under 70 and sits just one off the pace in a six-way tie at two-under.

Joburg Ladies Open champion Monique Smit also finished in the pack on two-under.

The South African pair shares fifth with 2018 SA Women’s Masters champion Laura Fuenfstueck from Germany, Pasqualle Coffa from the Netherlands, Scotland’s Kelsey Macdonald, Alice Hewson from England, and first reserve Rachel Rossel from Switzerland, who made the most of her late call-up to fight her way into the top 10.

A birdie at the last hole will see former three-time champion Lee-Anne Pace start the second round two off the pace in joint 12th alongside 2020 Women’s New South Wales Open winner and Race to Costa Del Sol frontrunner Julia Engström from Sweden.

Garcia underwent hip surgery in early 2019 and spent most of the season on the bench.

A few weeks ago the Ebotse golfer showed glimpses of a return to form when she lifted the individual title and won the team competition in the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge.

“Having the Sunshine Ladies Tour to get back into form was brilliant,” she said. “I could gauge where my game was at, what I needed to work on and what needed attention. I was hitting the ball well and putting nicely, but the scores just wasn’t quite there. Then the win came at Serengeti and that brought a huge injection of confidence.”

Garcia was understandably delighted to get her 2020 Ladies European Tour campaign off to a promising start.

“We teed off in no wind at Westlake, which is very rare, and I had my caddie Graeme Rowan back on the bag after a year off, so I was looking forward to the round and I am really happy that I was able to get a score going.”

Garcia started on the 10th tee and racked up three birdies going out.

“I birdied the first to go four-under, but I didn’t hit a very good shot out of the bunker on the par five (fourth) and paid for it with a bogey. I short-sided myself on the left of the green, but I wasn’t too upset not making the up-and-down, though. The pin was only three or four paces from where I was aiming, so I walked off with a soft bogey, really.

“I had a few more birdie opportunities that I didn’t make, so I was really happy with the three birdies I managed to convert. I hit the ball close on a couple of holes coming home, too. It’s gratifying to see that the game is there. The putting, too. I have the right pace and line, but I just had a few too many lip-outs.

“These greens are very tricky. Just the slightest misread with the grain on the greens here will cause to miss. It’s not dropping into the cup in the centre; it kind of catches the hole on the side and then it either drops or rings the hole. Hopefully I can come to grips with it on Friday and keep the momentum going.”

Buhai clinched her 11th title on the Sunshine Ladies Tour with a commanding five-shot victory in the Jabra Ladies Classic at Glendower Golf Club. She turned two-over, but a gentle prod from her husband and caddie Dave out the LPGA Tour campaigner on the attack.

“Conditions were pretty much perfect, but I didn’t get off to a good start and I turned two-over through nine,” said the 30-year-old. “I was playing a bit defensive and Dave (husband and caddie) gave me a little pep-talk. He said we played good last week and told me to get aggressive, so I did and I made four birdies down the back nine.

“The greens were quite firm when we played them in the afternoon on Wednesday, so I was just sussing them out. Once I started trusting what I was doing, I started to attack the pins. You have to shape it a little off the tee-boxes here; draws and fades.

“I am driving it pretty well and that helps, because the course is pretty narrow and the greens are small. I’m very happy with the way I’m striking the ball, because I’ve put myself in play. It was a bit iffy on the front, but I dialled it in on the back.”

Former Youth Olympian Kaiyuree Moodley leads the amateur challenge for the Jackie Mercer Trophy after carding a two-over-par 74 to finish alongside current Investec Order of Merit leader Stacy Bregman, among others.

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

 

 


11th March 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Ammies set to savour Investec SA Women’s Open experience

11 March 2020 – The next generation of golfing stars are ready to step into the limelight when the Investec SA Women’s Open tees off on Thursday.

Amateurs Kaiyuree Moodley, Bianca Wernich and Bobbi Brown survived baptism of fire in Monday’s qualifying round to join top ranked Kaylah Williams and Megan Streicher in the 132-playing field of the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s season-finale at Westlake Golf Club from 12-14 March.

A vicious south-easterly wind ravaged the championship layout during the qualifier, with a 55 km per hour gale pushing the field to their limits as they vied for five coveted spots into the Ladies European Tour co-sanctioned event.

Moodley stands 1.5 metres tall in her socks and weighs just 45kg, but the former Youth Olympian put up a valiant fight. She was gob-smacked, however, to learn that a frustrating nine-over-par 81 netted her the runner-up spot.

“I was absolutely horrified by my score, until Nicole Garcia and Stacy Bregman told me that it was a great score given the conditions,” the 18-year-old GolfRSA Elite Squad member said.

“I thought I didn’t have a chance. I was ready to fly home. We were standing around exchanging war stories when they came walking back to the clubhouse. They called it quits after two holes. They said par was at least 76 or 77 in that wind and they were confident I would make it.

“I couldn’t believe it when I finished second, but I’m definitely not complaining. It’s a dream come true to tee it up in the Investec SA Women’s Open. I’ve played a few Sunshine Ladies Tour events this season, and you can’t put a price on the experience you gain playing with the professionals.”

Moodley finished one stroke shy of winner Clara Pietri from Switzerland, while Wernich from Stellenbosch carded 83 to finish behind third-placed Christina Gloor from Sweden.

Lanky Brown from Steenberg, who plays out of neighbouring Steenberg Golf Club, came into the event fresh after a joint runner-up finish in the Nomads SA Juniors International at Rondebosch Golf Club. The 16-year-old clinched the final spot with a round of 84.

Moodley, a member of the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation, said it was a shock to arrive to a windless Westlake for the practice round on Tuesday.

“The wind was so brutal in the qualifier that I had to take two to three clubs extra,” she said. “For instance, I teed my ball up low and hit my driver about 210 metres. I hit 3-wood for my second and still finished about 50 metres short of the green and had to chip and putt to save par. In Tuesday’s practice round, I hit a normal drive, reached the green with a 5-wood and made a good birdie.

“I was really lucky to play nine holes with Nicole and Stacy. They gave me lots of advice and it was great to get an inside look to their processes and their course management. I’m really looking forward to getting the championship underway.”

Williams, who ranks second on the GolfRSA Open Amateur standings, caddied for fellow Western Province junior Jordan Rothman last year and is champing at the bit to get her own campaign underway.

“I was still struggling with my knee, so I couldn’t tee it up. It was really interesting to be on the bag, though, and to absorb the atmosphere and the splendour of the event. I also watched the professionals closely and learned a lot about course management and mental strength.”

The Durbanville golfer went under the knife late last year, but her knee held up really well during the recent Aon SA Amateur, where she tied for third in the stroke play championship. She also reached the semi-final with Moodley in the match play championship.

“It’s great to back to full speed again. I think, aside from winning the SA Women’s Amateur and Stroke Play, all amateurs dream of playing the national open and for me personally, it’s a dream come true. I am definitely a better golfer now and hopefully I can put everything I’ve learned in the last 12 months into practice at Westlake.

”It can be very intimidating to play with the pros, so I’m just going to do my level best not to let the occasion trip me up. I want to treat it as any other golf tournament and focus on playing the course.”

For the professionals, victory will come with a winner’s exemption on the Ladies European Tour, starts in the AIG Women’s British Open and Evian Championship, the lion’s share of the €200 000 purse and the coveted trophy.

The leading amateur will lift the Jackie Mercer Trophy and stand alongside the 2020 champion in the winner’s circle. “I am sure the trophy will be in there somewhere in the back of everyone’s minds, but I think we will be more focussed on hitting the best shots we can make, while learning as much as possible from the experience,” said Streicher from Swellendam. “It’s the real big leagues and it’s an incredible opportunity for us to learn and gain experience. I can’t wait to get started.”

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


| Sunshine Ladies Tour

Buhais all in for four of a kind at Westlake

11 March 2020 – After a stellar start to their 2020 campaign, Ashleigh and David Buhai have arrived in Cape Town targeting a fourth Investec South African Women’s Open crown this week.

The €200 000 event, co-sanctioned between the Sunshine Ladies Tour, the Ladies European Tour and the Women’s PGA of South Africa, tees off at Westlake Golf Club from 12-14 March.

Of course, Ashleigh Buhai needs no introduction.

Unless you missed the part where she married her bagman David in December 2016 and you’re still wondering what in the world happened to Ashleigh Simon.

Ashleigh’s storied amateur career was nothing short of outstanding. Not only did she dominate the local amateur golf scene and distinguished herself on the international stage, but she won four professional events as an amateur, including the 2004 SA Women’s Open at the age of 14 and the SA Women’s Masters at age 16.

The youngest champion and only amateur to achieve this feat in both flagship events, she claimed her second SA Women’s Open title in 2007 – also as an amateur – and expectations were huge when she joined the paid ranks in June that same year.

Buhai didn’t disappoint.

Within three starts, she broke her duck on the Ladies European Tour and won again in 2011. After a couple of injury plagued seasons, Ashleigh relaunched her career with three successive victories in the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s first season in 2014.

And she kept adding to the tally, pushing it to 11 last week with a five-shot victory in the Jabra Ladies Classic. The commanding win at Glendower Golf Club after rounds of 63, 69 and 67 was on the cards after her most successful season on the LPGA Tour last year.

She finished 56th on the final Race to CME Globe and 51st on the official LPGA Money List. A top five finish in the AIG British Women’s Open also earned her an impressive 22nd place finish on the final Ladies European Tour Order of Merit.

And, thanks to a top 13 finish in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open three weeks ago, she has moved to 103rd in the Rolex Women’s Golf Ranking.

“I keep an eye on the rankings and the numbers, but really, all I want to do is go out there and play good golf,” said Buhai after the win at Glendower.

“I have had some really bad breaks and some great successes. It’s crazy how things happen in life, but when you choose sport as a career, you have to accept the good and the bad. It’s just the way it is. I’m very positive and I’m very relaxed and it’s a good combination for me. I finally feel like I can win any week and I’m just going to stay patient and let it happen.”

While campaigning on the LPGA Tour, Ashleigh employs Tanya Patterson, who caddied for Dame Laura Davies for six years and David works for Swede Madelene Sagstrőm, who won the Gainbridge LPGA at Boca Rio in January and is currently second on the Money List.

But back on home soil, when David picks up the bag for Ashleigh, good things tend to happen.

“We split up on the golf course when we got married, because we want to stay married,” Ashleigh jokes. “Seriously though, we decided together that it wasn’t fair on me to carry all the pressure and this way our finances are not only dependant on my results. It’s worked out brilliantly for us, but when we get home, I get to have him back on the bag.

“Dave has shared in 10 of my 11 wins here at home, including the Investec SA Women’s Open in 2018. He knows my game inside out and he knows just what to say and when. It’s always special to share that winning moment with him.”

Does Ashleigh believe there is another win on the horizon at Westlake?

“I am more experienced, more patient and more relaxed and I believe I am a much better golfer now than a few years ago. My coach and I spent the last few weeks honing a few things and the game feels solid. I am confident starting this week, so yes, I would love to become the first four-time winner of our national Open.

“Yes, it will be in the back of my mind when I tee it up at Westlake on Thursday. I love the course; it really suits my eye and it sets up well for my game. But if the wind blows as hard as it did on Monday, it going to be open season on the trophy.”

The Investec SA Women’s Open tees off on Thursday, 12 March.

The 132-playing field will be cut to 60 and ties after 36 holes and the champion will be crowned on Saturday, 14 March. In addition to the lion’s share of the purse, the winner receives a Winner’s Category exemption on the Ladies European Tour until the end of 2021, starts in two Majors this year – the AIG Women’s British Open and Evian Championship.

At the conclusion of the Investec SA Women’s Open, the winner of the 2020 Investec Order of Merit will also be crowned and receive a bonus prize of R100 000.

Entry to the 2020 event is free, there is ample parking and public catering is available at the clubhouse.

FOLLOW THE 2020 INVESTEC SA WOMEN’S OPEN ON SOCIAL MEDIA
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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.


| Sunshine Ladies Tour

Big guns arrive for Investec SA Women’s Open

10 March 2020 – The cream of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and Ladies European Tour are converging on Westlake Golf Club in the City of Cape Town for 2020 Investec South African Women’s Open from 12-14 March.

As always, there is a palpable sense of nervous anticipation as the golfers start to arrive in the Mother City for South Africa’s flagship event and the mouth-watering incentives the season-finale carries.

This year is no exception as the big guns of the game prepare to contest a €200 000 prize fund, starts in two Majors this year – the AIG Women’s British Open and the Evian Championship – plus a winner’s category exemption on the Ladies European Tour (LET) until the end of 2021 and the right to be acclaimed as South Africa’s Women’s Open champion.

The field this year exudes class and quality, from three-time champions Ashleigh Buhai and Lee-Anne Pace to defending champion Diksha Dagar from India.

The international posse also stars former Ladies European Tour winners Carly Booth from Sweden’s Jenny Haglund and Scotland, England’s Meghan Maclaren, while Julia Engstrom from Sweden and Manon de Roey from Belgium have to be firm favourites after respectively finishing first and second in the recent Women’s New South Wales Open.

The local challenge is further strengthened by 2020 champions Monique Smit, Nicole Garcia, Lejan Lewthwaite, already a two-time winner this season

Westlake awaits those consumed with a desire to lift the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s flagship trophy in the same swashbuckling style of Buhai’s final round match to victory in 2018 or the 18-year-old Dagar’s masterful maiden professional win 12 months ago.

Pace – the only player to win the championship in three successive years since its inception in 1988 – came agonisingly close to becoming the championship’s first four-time winner last year, while the event’s only amateur champion Buhai is just as hungry to re-write the annals of South African golfing history with a fourth triumph.

The favourites are joined by reigning Investec Order of Merit leader Stacy Bregman.

The five-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner was second in 2013, third in 2017 and fourth in 2019 and, buoyed by a third place finish in the Joburg Ladies Open and second in last week’s Jabra Ladies Classic, Bregman will be looking to ride that rich vein of form to finally clinch that elusive first LET win.

Karolin Lampert and Michelle Thompson should not be overlooked, either.

Germany’s Lampert is kicking off her Ladies European Tour season in Cape Town channelling the positive vibes of a runner-up finish in 2018, while Thompson gave chase last year. Coming off a top 10 finish in Australia the Scot can be expected to be among the early frontrunners this week.

A total of 90 players from the LET will tee it up in the 2020 Investec SA Women’s Open, while the balance of the 132 playing field includes 30 leading players on the 2019 Sunshine Ladies Tour player rankings, five invitations, two leading amateurs and five qualifiers.

Sisters Yolanda and Siviwe Duma from East London, India’s Sharmila Nicollet, Swiss golfer Caroline Rominger and Rosie Davies from England secured invitations, while the two leading amateurs are GolfRSA Elite Squad members Kaylah Williams from Western Province and Boland golfer Megan Streicher.

Clara Petrie from Switzerland won the qualifying round on Monday, with compatriot Christina Gloor and amateur trio Kaiyuree Moodley, Bobbi Brown and Bianca Wernich securing the final four spots.

The tournament tees off on Thursday, 12 March and there will be a cut to 60 and ties after 36 holes. The champion will be crowned on Saturday, 14 March and, at the conclusion of the Investec SA Women’s Open, the winner of the 2020 Investec Order of Merit will also be crowned and receive a bonus prize of R100 000.

Entry is free to the 2020 event, there is ample parking and public catering is available at the clubhouse.

FOLLOW THE 2020 INVESTEC SA WOMEN’S OPEN ON SOCIAL MEDIA
#InvestecSAWomensOpen
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FACEBOOK:
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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.