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.