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.”
10th March 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Hat-trick Hero Buhai Signs off in Grand Style
Ashleigh Buhai wrote her name in the record books of the Investec South African Women’s Open once again, thanks to a two-stroke victory at Westlake Golf Club in Cape Town on Saturday.
The only amateur to win the national championship twice – and the youngest champion to boot – fired a flawless final round 67 to realise a dream she’s nurtured since she joined the pro ranks in 2007.
“I’m absolutely ecstatic. I knew I had to play really well today and that’s what I did. I just felt really focused the whole day and hit all the shots I needed to and holed a few good putts,” said Buhai, who triumphed on -under-par 207.
“No matter what country you’re from, you want to lift your national title. Having won it twice as an amateur was a bit crazy, because the first time I won it I was just 14. The older you get, the more you realise what it means to you. To finally win it as a professional is priceless. I’m very chuffed.”
Compatriot Stacy Bregman also had 100,000 reasons to celebrate.
The Johannesburg golfer hit a magnificent bunker shot to three feet to up-and-down for par at the 18th to bank the R100 000 bonus as the Sunshine Ladies Tour Investec Property Fund Order of Merit winner.
Bregman, who won the season-opening Canon Tshwane Open, also closed with a 67.
“I didn’t have the best start to the week, but I came out today and wanted to do really well,” said Bregman, who finished in fourth place on three-under 213. “I knew that I had nothing to lose and to finish off the way that I did, it teaches me a lot about myself, that I have what it takes at clutch moments like that. I knew what I had to do and to pull it off was just magical.”
Buhai started the day on four-under and one shot off the pace, behind Karolin Lampert.
The German overhauled Buhai for the second-round lead with a 69, but Lampert didn’t hold on to pole position for long. Making the most of the tranquil conditions, Buhai closed the gap with a birdie start and moved to seven-under with back-to-back gains at the fifth and sixth holes for a two-stroke lead.
Long-hitting Lampert birdied the par-5 seventh to narrow the gap, but missed an opportunity to tie for the lead when her birdie putt on the ninth from five feet moved below the hole.
Buhai then birdied the 10th to regain her two-stroke advantage and stretched that to three strokes when Lampert bogeyed 11. Both players birdied the long 13th and Lampert made a fantastic putt from the back of the 14th green, only to drop a shot on the short 15th.
Buhai had birdie chances on 16, 17 and again at 18, where her birdie putt slipped past the hole, leaving her a tap-in for par.
Lampert was thrilled with a strong start to her season after she signed off with a 70.
“I wanted to post a sub-par round and I was really pleased to do that,” said former LET Access Series winner Lampert, who now has her sights set on a Ladies European Tour title in 2018. “Ashleigh played really well, a 67 and more chances on the back nine, so it was really hard to keep up with her. I’ve been pleased with my game all week and happy to finish second.
“I’m so pleased that I decided to start my season at the Investec SA Women’s Open. I’ve been working on my swing in the off-season to get some more length off the tee and I did that here, so it was a good decision to stay a bit longer off the course. Today I hit it longer than I expected, even with my irons.”
Moroccan Maha Haddioui ended in third place on four-under-par, which was her best result since she earned her Ladies European Tour card in 2013.
“It feels really good. I had a tough time in Australia and didn’t play great. I loved being in South Africa. Finishing third here and having my best finish on the LET is really awesome. The course suited my game and I think the key was just playing smart. I played chicken a lot of the time and didn’t go for the pins, but I putted well and it really helped me this week.
“It’s more special to be in Africa, on my home continent. Even though I’m really far from home, I still feel at home, somehow. I really like being in South Africa and I haven’t been for a few years. I’m going to go and see the penguins today, so I’m really excited.”
Three-time LET winner Florentyna Parker closed out the top five. The English golfer carded a final round 70 to finish at two-under-par 214.
The final trophy during the prize giving was awarded to Gauteng North golfer Lindi Coetzee.
The 18-year-old used the experience gained from playing with professionals in five Sunshine Ladies Tour events to make the cut and lift the Jackie Mercer trophy as the leading amateur in this year’s national open.
Written by and released by Lali Stander and Bethan Cutlet on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, European Ladies Tour and WPGA.
7th March 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Pace has double vision in Cape Town
South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace has duel objectives on the mind ahead of the Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club from 8-10 March in Cape Town.
Last year, the 12-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner completed a hat-trick of titles with her third successive victory at San Lameer Country Club to join Mandy Adamson as a three-time national Open winner.
Winning the title four times is her first big aspiration.
“My goal this week is simple; I want to win,” said Pace. “I’d really like to lift that trophy. I will try to get good scores in the first two rounds to put myself in contention. But we’ll have to see what the weather does. Sometimes level par can be a good score if the wind really blows.”
The Investec South African Women’s Open is the marquee event on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.
This year’s edition is co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour for the first time since 2014 and offers a purse of R2-million, with the winner getting the lion share worth R317 000.
Pace also has the season-long points list on her mind.
At 15th with 590 points, the Boschenmeer golfer is some way off top of the pile Stacy Bregman on 1710 points but with 2400 points up for grabs for the winner, the motivation is certainly there and Pace could make the jump to claim the points list title and continue to dominate the money list title she claimed in the 2014, 2015 and 2016,
A number of permutations are possible with third place this week worth 1550 points which interestingly is just 160 less than Bregman has earned from six events.
For Pace though, the task is simple – win the tournament and whip out the calculator later.
“I’d love to win both and end the season on a high note,” said Pace, who lost the Chase to the Investec Cup title fight to Ashleigh Buhai last year.
The field boasts 123 players with a total of 26 countries represented and the 37-year-old LPGA winner and nine-time Ladies European Tour champion knows it will be a tough task to come out on top in a strong field.
“Carly [Booth] is good, but there are a lot of other quality players playing this week,” said Pace.
“Flory Parker loves the wind, so I expect her to perform well this week. There are a number of new players I have never compete against, so there is the unknown factor. And our girls are coming off six weeks, so they are highly competitive.
“It’s fantastic to have such a strong field here in Cape Town, but it will be tough to win. I’m just really happy we have a co-sanctioned event again and I’m excited about where the Sunshine Ladies Tour is heading.”
Pace will be facing stiff competition from her peers, but she has dug out her old Scotty Cameron putter and, having found some great pace with ‘old faithful’ in the last couple of days, she is rearing to go.
“I played decently in Australia two weeks ago, but I didn’t putt well at all,” she said. “So as soon as I got back, I went looking for my Scotty. I’ve just bought a house at Boschenmeer and I am busy moving, so it was no easy task tracking down my Scotty.
“I putted my whole career with the Scotty Cameron and then suddenly last year I didn’t feel comfortable. I think it got bent on the same flight my driver broke, because it was around that time that I lost confidence with my putting.
“Instead of getting a new putter, I just went with something different. I tried the mallet for half the season last year, but I just can’t get comfortable with it. So I just went back to what I know.”
Pace took third in the season-opening Canon Ladies Tshwane Open, but was forced to withdraw in the first round of the Joburg Ladies Open.
“That was a huge blow, I was playing really well at the time as well,” Pace said. “I just woke up that morning and had really bad stomach flu, I couldn’t even lift my arm. I tried to play, but I just couldn’t swing the golf club – it was too heavy.”
Bregman won at Pretoria Country Club and Buhai triumphed at Modderfontein Golf Club, but Pace did not wallow in disappointment. In the third event, she returned to the winner’s circle when she beat good friend Anne-Lise Caudal of France in a playoff for the Cape Town Ladies Open title.
“Winning in Cape Town was really fun. I always enjoy playing in Cape Town because my friends and family always come out and watch. I happened to also play against my best friend in a playoff and won. It was a really good week, and that win there will set me up well for Westlake.
“It was funny because we didn’t even know there was going to be a playoff,” she said. “I asked Anne-Lise what score did you finish on, and she said eight-under and I said I was the same. It was only then that we realised we were going to be in a playoff. We just started laughing. At the end of the day it’s nothing personal and you just try and do your best.”
Though Pace has not played Westlake Golf Club this millennium, she was still confident she could compete for the title.
“I haven’t played Westlake since I won a Western Province amateur event here; it was probably 20 years ago,” she said, laughing. “I like the course. It’s a tough layout, especially when the wind blows and according to the forecast, the wind is going to blow. It will be interesting because it’s a tight little golf course with small greens, so you really have to control the ball flight in the wind.”
Pace is always a heavy favourite, as is Bregman and Buhai, but a number of younger players coming through the ranks coming through the ranks could turn this year’s Investec South African Women’s Open into an intriguing battle.
Look out for second ranked Nobuhle Dlamini, who picked up her maiden victory at the SuperSport Ladies Challenge last week, second season professionals Ivanna Samu and Lora Assad and a slew of Ladies European Tour rookies, including Marita Engzelius and Silvia Bañon, who tied for second in the Women’s New South Wales Open.
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Written by and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
8th February 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Perfection from Pace in Cape Town
Lee-Anne Pace shook off the last of the early-season rust to capture her 12th Sunshine Ladies Tour title with a playoff victory in the Cape Town Ladies Open at Royal Cape on Thursday.
Twelve months after losing the title to Ashleigh Buhai in extra time in the same event, the 2016 champion went full circle and made a welcome return to the winner’s enclosure.
Trailing by two shots to best friend Anne-Lise Caudal as they reached the final hole, Pace buried a long birdie putt to deny her the Frenchwoman a long-overdue trophy.
A round of 71 from Pace and a 70 from Caudal after a bogey at 18, saw the pair tie one eight-under 214. They made the return trip back to the 18th tee for a sudden-death play-off and it was almost a replay of last year’s event.
This time, though, Pace prevailed with a par.
“The last time Anne-Lise and I played together we both played awful golf, so I was scared that was going to happen again,” explained Pace. “But this time we played really well and it was awesome to see Anne-Lise make a comeback after struggling with injuries.”
Pace trailed by three strokes at the start of the day and know she needed to land some birdies in order to catch leader Ivanna Samu. She cancelled out a birdie on the first with bogeys on the second and third holes and racked up four in a row from five before dropping another shot at the ninth.
The topsy-turvy round continued down the back nine with a pair of birdies sandwiched between bogeys at 10 and 13, followed by four pars and the title-saving birdie at 18.
“The bogeys at two and three really fired me up,” said the Investec Property player.
“I was angry with myself and I reeled off four birdies in a row as a result. But it’s been that kind of week for me. I made some birdies and then gave shots back as if they were Christmas presents that I needed to return.
“I made a decent start to the season in the Canon Ladies Tshwane Open, but I never really got the putter going. I was ready to fire in the Joburg Ladies Open, but then a virus struck and I was forced to withdraw after just six holes in the first round. That stung, so I really came here this week with a winning mind-set. It’s really great to be back in the winner’s circle.”
Caudal, a regular campaigner on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, was pleased to get back into contention.
The two-time winner Ladies European Tour winner was four-under at the start of the final round, and level heading down the final nine holes, but a n eagle at the par five 11th kick-started a great run on the homestretch.
Birdies at the 13th, 14th and 16th propelled her into a two-shot lead, but a pulled tee shot on the final hole put the brakes on her victory charge. The ensuing bogey landed her in the play-off and another drop at 18 left Pace to swoop in for her second Cape Town Ladies Open win in the last three years.
“I played really well on the back nine and I’m happy with my week,” Caudal said.
“On the last hole I was up against the tree and had to chip out and then I left my approach shot short – but that’s golf. It’s been a long time and I struggled with my game last year, so it was fun to get into contention again.”
The pair were unaware that, behind them, the leading group overnight had run into trouble, meaning that it had effectively turned into a duel between the two best friends.
“It was tricky because the last time I saw a scoreboard was around the 14th, when eight-under was leading,” said Pace. “I assumed the players behind us was leading. Anne-Lise was going well and when a crowd started following us and the cameramen turned up, I realised one of us had a good chance of winning.”
Meanwhile South Africa’s Nicole Garcia – who lines up in title defence in next week’s Dimension Data Ladies Challenge in George – racked up three birdies in the last four holes for a 70 and sole third on seven under.
Canon Ladies Tshwane Open winner Stacy Bregman finish fourth on even-par 216, Tandi McCullum was a further stroke back and overnight leader Ivanna Samu tied for sixth on three under with Anna Sventrup from Sweden and England’s Kiran Matharu.
Rising Western Province amateur Jordan Rothman – who recently became the first girl to qualify for the popular Bridge Fund Managers Junior Series Final – carried her fine form to finish as the low amateur. The 15-year-old Durbanville golfer posted a 74 to tie for 20th on three-over, four shots ahead of Casandra Hall from Ekurhuleni.
Written by Brendan Barratt and Lali Stander and released on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
6th February 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Samu stakes claim at Cape Town Ladies Open
Ivanna Samu must have experienced a few flashbacks as she powered her way to a six-under-par 68 lead in the opening round of the Cape Town Ladies Open on Tuesday.
The big-hitting 19-year old Ruimsig golfer made the most of perfect conditions as she birdied all six of the six par fives at Royal Cape Golf Club to grab a one-stroke lead over England’s Hayley Davis.
Two years ago, Samu upstaged Sunshine Ladies Tour winners Lee-Anne Pace, Ashleigh Buhai and Monique Smit to lead the event on the same score.
That was before the reigning Sanlam South African Amateur champion joined the paid ranks, and she has since put together a string of good performances on the Sunshine Ladies Tour in the past two seasons.
A maiden win still eludes her, but with this season’s results of tie-fifth in the Canon Ladies Tshwane Open and a runner-up finish in the Joburg Ladies Open last week, Samu is trending towards a first visit to the winner’s circle.
“It’s obviously something that I’m striving for,” she explained.
“I won a lot as an amateur and I really want to get that winning feeling back. But I’m not going to get ahead of myself. Last year I found that I slipped up in the first round of tournaments, so now that I’ve put myself into a good position, I just want to stay patient and play one hole at a time and if it is my time then that win will come.”
Samu bounced back from a three-putt for bogey on the second hole to reel off five birdies in succession from the third hole before a bogey at the par-three eighth ended her run of red numbers.
Three further birdies on the back nine – all on the par fives – saw her sign for the day’s best score.
“I really love my job,” Samu said. “I love being out here, doing what I do. Every day offers a new challenge and you can’t ask for a better office.”
England’s Davis, a first-time visitor to South Africa, mixed six birdies with a solitary bogey on the par-three eighth.
“I was a bit wayward off the tee, so that’s something I will work on, but other than that I was very happy with my round,” she said.
The trio of Bonita Bredenhann from Namibia, South Africa’s Nicole Garcia and Rachel Raastad from Norway finished a further shot adrift.
Former champion Lee-Anne Pace was on track for a comfortable first-round lead when she reached the 16th tee at seven-under, but the LPGA Tour campaigner stumbled to a bogey, bogey, double bogey finish to tie for third with Kim Williams on three-under.
Border golfer Yolanda Duma eagled the par-four closing hole for a seat on the bus at two-under with Canon Ladies Tshwane Open winner Stacy Bregman, Mae Cornforth, Sweden’s Anna Sventrup, Rachael Goodall from England and Mariell Bruun from Norway.
Ekurhuleni amateur Casandra Hall heads up the amateur leaderboard on three-over 75, with former SAGDB player Cassidy Williams from Stellenbosch a further shot back.
5th February 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Internationals upbeat at Cape Town prospects
Stacy Bregman jetted into the Mother City on Sunday riding a wave of confidence after a one-two start to her 2018 Sunshine Ladies Tour season, while a determined Lee-Anne Pace will be hunting a trophy after illness derailed her Joburg Ladies Open last week.
However, both former champions could come under pressure when the R200 000 Cape Town Ladies Open tees off at Royal Cape Golf Club on Tuesday.
Several international players showed great form in the first two events, including Carrie Park from South Korea, who claimed her rookie title in the SA Women’s Masters at neighbouring Rondebosch Golf Club last year, and Swaziland’s Nobuhle Dlamini.
Canon Ladies Tshwane Open champion Bregman is currently second in the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit, but Park and Dlamini are fourth and fifth respectively, while Alexandra Lennartsson from Sweden is tucked just behind Pace in sixth on the Points List.
The lanky blonde from Nykoping near Stockholm was buoyant after a tie for fifth in the Canon Ladies Tshwane Open and joint sixth in the Joburg Lades Open.
“This was my best two results since I started coming to South Africa and I feel confident starting this week,” said the lanky blond from Nykopings near Stockholm, who tied for 16th and 19th in her previous two Cape Town Ladies Open starts.
“This year feel like I’ve brought a game that can compete. “Uou need a bit more club at sea level, but the course is not too long and, after two tournaments, I feel like I know where to hit and where to miss and that comes with experience. The mountain, the sea, the course – it’s all so beautiful. I think that they have done a great job to prepare the course for us given the water problems in Cape Town and I’m just excited to get started. I’m feeling very positive this week.”
Compatriot Hanna Roos has also returned for a third season.
The 29-year-old from Uppsala recorded a career-best Sunshine Ladies Tour finish with a 13th place finish at Modderfontein Golf Club last Friday and is also counting on experience to move her towards a first visit to the winner’s circle.
“I was 31st in my first year and 21st last year, so I’m moving in the right direction,” said Roos. “After last week, I’m hoping for a top 10, maybe even a win.”
Bubbly Nastja Banovec – the first-ever Slovenian golfer to debut on the Sunshine Ladies Tour – is having a ball on her first visit to South Africa.
The former Paul Lawrie Invitational champion joined the pro ranks in 2017 and competed in eight events on the European Ladies Tour Access Series. She was disappointed to miss the cut in the Canon Ladies Tshwane Open, but a strong performance on the back nine at Modderfontein saw her surge to joint 18th on the final leaderboard.
“I’m heard about the Sunshine Ladies Tour from the girls on the LET Access Series and a bunch of us decided to come out this year and travel together,” said the Otočec golfer.
“It is 15 degrees below back home and there is snow everywhere, so you can imagine how much we are enjoying the sunny weather. We’ve come here to learn and improve and I’ve already learned so much in two tournaments.
“The course in Pretoria was really tight and full of trees, but my course management was poor. I didn’t make a great start at Modderfontein and I just made the cut, but I had a really solid final round. I had 10 one-putts and I chipped in for a 72. Now I am excited to start Cape Town.”
Durbanville amateur Jordan Rothman will lead the local challenge alongside fellow Western Province amateurs Tara Griebenow from Bellville, Zayb Fredericks from Royal Cape, Katia Schaff from Clovelly and Stellenbosch golfer Bianca Wernich.
The 15-year-old Rothman hit the headlines last year when she ousted the SA number one ranked Kajal Mistry in the first round of the Sanlam Womens Amateur Match Play Championship and she was one of the anchors for the victorious Western Province team in the SA Womens Inter-Provincial. Rothman also stunned recently when she upstaged the male juniors to qualify for the Bridge Fund Managers Junior Series Final.
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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
2nd February 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Double delight for brilliant Buhai
Ashleigh Buhai completed a commanding wire-to-wire victory and collected her eighth Sunshine Ladies Tour trophy with a five-shot winning margin in the Joburg Ladies Open at Modderfontein Golf Club on Friday.
Buhai banked the the lion’s share of the R500 000 prize pot and a total of eight-under 208 earned her 650 points, which boosted her to the top spot of the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit.
“It’s great to leave South Africa with a double whammy, because I set myself some pretty steep goals this week,” said the smiling Buhai.
“I’m really pleased with this win. I had chances the first two years at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington, but I never made the most of my home course. It feels really good to add my name to the trophy; after all I’m a Joburg girl, so it’s fitting that I should win this one at least once.”
Stacy Bregman, who won the season-opening Canon Ladies Tshwane Open last week, and 19-year-old Ivanna Samu both launched a spirited final round attack, but it was too little, too late. Bregman fired a 67 and Samu 68 to tie for second 213.
Buhai maintained the good form that earned her a runner-up finish in Tshwane last week. She made make a flying start with an opening four-under-par 68 in City of Joburg showpiece and followed with successive rounds of 70.
“I made back-to-back birdies at 10 and 11 to go 10-under, and I had an eight shot lead with six holes to play,” said Buhai. “I guarded against not getting complacent, but the wind got a bit tricky down the last couple of holes and I did let my concentration slip just a touch.
“I overshot 16 and 18, because I couldn’t risk a shorter club with water in front of both greens, but at least the cushion was big enough to cover the bogeys.”
Buhai will miss the next three weeks to compete on the LPGA Tour in Australia, Thailand and Singapore.
“I really wanted to perform well to put myself in a good position this week and it feels incredibly good to achieve what I set out to do,” she said. “This gives me a big boost of confidence.
“I felt a bit rusty at Pretoria Country Club last week, but I improved round for round. My coach and I (Doug Wood) put in some work over the weekend and I struck the ball really well this week. I also started seeing my lines clearly, although I feel I need to work the putter some more, but I’m really looking forward to taking this game on tour.”
After dropping a shot at the fourth, Bregman put her foot on the gas pedal and reeled in four birdies on the trot. She picked up another pair of birdies at 12 and 14 for her 67. Samu also overshot the final green and her chip shot ran 12 feet past the hole, but she holed a clutch putt for 68.
Swiss golfer Azelia Meichtry shot a final round 73 to join Nobuhle Dlamini in a tie for third. Her 217 total earned Meichtry the Leading Amateur honour, as well. The country’s top ranked junior, Woo-Ju Son, took second on 224.
1st February 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Buhai builds two shot barrier
Ashleigh Buhai remains on course for a wire-to-wire victory in the Joburg Ladies Open after a two-under-par 70 moved her within touching distance of an eighth Sunshine Ladies Tour title at Modderfontein Golf Club on Thursday.
“Obviously I’m happy with the position I’m in; anytime you go into a final round leading it’s a good place to be;” said Buhai, who leads by two on six under 138 from Lauren Taylor and is six strokes clear from a four-way tie for third.
“I didn’t hit it as close as I did in the first round, but at the same time, the conditions were a little trickier. We had a two-hour delayed start and the course was quite wet and then the wind came up on the back nine and was really swirling.”
Taylor from England – a joint runner-up in 2017 – returned a 70, while Nobuhle Dlamini fired five straight birdies from the 10th to record the low round of the day.
A sublime five-under 67 moved the big-hitting Swazi golfer to level par alongside Carrie Park from South Korea, Swiss amateur Azelia Meichtry and another English talent, Hayley Davis.
Buhai began the second round with a one shot lead and kept the advantage as both players birdied the opening par five.
The 28-year-old Royal Johannesburg and Kensington golfer countered soft drops at three and six with birdies at four and eight as Taylor picked up another gain at six and Buhai led by two at the turn. The English golfer birdied 10 but gave the shot back with a bogey at 18 and Buhai birdied 17 to edge two shots clear.
“Almost every hole down the back nine was into the wind and it was tricky, but overall I played steady and stayed patient,” said Buhai. “I made eight pars down the back nine and sometimes those are bigger than birdie putts, especially in conditions like these.”
In 2017, Buhai racked up a hat-trick of victories in 2017 and walked away with the lion’s share of the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies that launched a career-best season on the LPGA Tour.
Victory after a runner-up finish in last week’s Canon Ladies Tshwane Open could leave her in a strong position on the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit to challenge for the R100 000 bonus at the end of the season.
“If I go with the same game plan and I trust my swing, I’m in a good position to win,” said Buhai. “I’m feeling my lines pretty good and I’ve felt this week that the game is starting to feel like it did at the end of last season. I just need to get my confidence up and it would be nice a few more birdie putts dropped in the final round.
“I’m leaving next week to play the LPGA Tour in Australia, Thailand and Singapore, so I’ll be missing three events at home. A win tomorrow would be great. It would be nice to get the maximum points on offer and still be in a strong position when I come back to play the Investec South African Open.”
31st January 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Buhai hits a high note at Joburg Ladies Open
Ashleigh Buhai made a strong case for an eighth Sunshine Ladies Tour title with a sparkling four-under-par 68 in the opening round of the Joburg Ladies Open on Wednesday.
Maintaining the good form that earned her second in the season-opening Canon Ladies Tshwane Open last week, South Africa’s leading international golfer made a flying start at Modderfontein Golf Club.
Buhai racked up four birdies in her outward loop and moved to six-under with another pair of gains at the first and second holes. But her three shot lead dwindled to one with bogeys at seven and nine.
“My mind drifted a little and I three-putted from a short distance at seven, so I was a little annoyed about the bogey, but it’s golf; you just have to take it on the chin and move on,” said last year’s Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies champion.
“I put myself in an impossible position off the tee. I caught the face of the greenside bunker and had a very awkward stance, so I wasn’t disappointed with the bogey finish.”
Buhai attributed her first round performance to accurate tee shots and a short-game.
“I drove the ball really well and I hit a lot of great wedge-shots really close,” said the 28-year-old Royal Johannesburg and Kensington golfer. “I gave myself a lot of chances. The greens are immaculate and running so true. The birdies are out there if you put yourself in the right spots on the greens.”
The two-time Ladies European Tour champion is heading for Australia next week and admits that she would love to leave with the title and a leg-up on the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit.
“I would really love to win the Joburg Ladies Open,” said Buhai. “I didn’t manage it when we played it at my home course, so maybe this is my week. Winning would also leave me in a good position until I return to South Africa in March to play the Investec South African Women’s Open.”
To lift the trophy, Buhai will have to stave off a chasing pack that includes fellow Ladies European Tour player Lauren Taylor from England.
Looking to improve on a joint runner-up finish last year, Taylor finished at two-under, one shot back from Sunshine Ladies Tour regular Hanna Roos from Sweden. She shares third with French newcomer Emie Peronnin and second-season South African professional Ivanna Samu.
Carrie Park, who is back from her native South Korea where she earned a card for the Korean LPGA Tour, will be defending her SA Women’s Masters title at San Lameer next month.
Park made 16 pars, a bogey at 16 and a birdie at seven to grab a share of sixth with former Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Kiran Matharu from England, Mariell Bruun from Norway and last week’s Canon Ladies Tshwane Open champion Stacy Bregman.
Lee-Anne Pace, who won the inaugural event in 2016, was forced to retire after five holes.
“I picked up a bug and already felt weak during Tuesday’s Pro-Am, but I was determined to start,” said Pace. “The course is in such great condition and the greens are fast, just as I like them to be, so it was gut-wrenching to have to pull out. I wish everyone a great tournament.”
A trio of amateurs – Azelia Meichtry from Switzerland, reigning Nomads SA Girls Rosebowl champion Kaiyuree Moodley and 13-year-old Kiera Floyd – close out the top 10 at one-over-par 73 alongside England’s Hayley Davis and Alexandra Lennartsson from Sweden.