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23rd February 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Double Canon Crown for Garcia at Serengeti

23 February 2020 – Nicole Garcia celebrated a much-anticipated return to the winner’s circle with not one, but two dramatic victories at Serengeti Estates on Sunday.

The Ebotse golfer won the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge and led team Shooters to victory in the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Pro-Am title in a thrilling four-hole play-off at the Whistling Thorn Course.

Garcia opened her campaign on the 2,618-metre par three championship layout with a level-par 54 and began the final round one stroke clear of Brittney-Fay Berger. In-form Lejan Lewthwaite – already a two-time winner this season – was two shots back in joint third with five-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Stacy Bregman.

Garcia gave the chasing pack a glimmer of hope when she paid for an errant tee shot on the third hole with a double bogey, but she bounced back in style out aced the 165-metre sixth hole with a 7-iron.

She widened the gap on the chasing pack with further gains on 12 and 16 and sealed victory on one-under-par 107 and, despite giving a shot back to the field on the 17th hole, finished five shots clear of Berger.

It took a few more hours though, before Garcia and her team-mates Gabrielle Macdonald and amateur team-mates Abri Kriegler and Daren Hanekom could properly celebrate her third career victory.

Garcia’s birdie on 16 and a Macdonald birdie on 17 boosted the team aggregate to 17-under-par 199, matching the clubhouse target set earlier by Lewthwaite, fellow pro Tandi McCallum and their amateur partners Mike Honiball and Frank Neto.

“That meant a play-off on the 18th hole and The Shooters were excited, because we’d done well on 18 in both rounds; little did we know it would become a proper shoot-out Sunday,” Garcia said.

Both teams had chances to close out the win, including Kriegler who pushed a birdie putt past the hole on the first extra hole. “We tied the 18th hole three times, so they took us to the first, and that’s where we got the job done,” said Garcia, who holed a long-range putt for birdie and was backed up by Kriegler, who got his birdie effort in the hole at last.

1. Nicole Garcia claimed her third Sunshine Ladies Tour title with a five-stroke victory in the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge on the Whistle Thorn Championship Course at Serengeti.

“Gabrielle and I had such an amazing time out there with Abri and Daren. Our amateurs could really play. Abri’s handicap index is 13, so he made a big contribution with his nett birdies. Gabrielle didn’t fire in the first round, but she made five birdies for us in the final round. Daren is a member of the South African Disabled Golf Association and one of South Africa’s top ranked deaf golfer. He drives the ball beautifully and we were thrilled when he won the closest to the hole prize in the final round.

“What I will remember most about this tournament is the high fives, the first pumps and all the laughs. We had a genuinely great time out there and we were absolutely thrilled to be the first winners of the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge.”

In addition to the first place prize money Garcia bagged, the Benoni golfer also shared a R100 000 bonus with her partner Macdonald that Serengeti Estates owner David Nagel kicked in.

Garcia spent the full 2019 season on the bench following hip surgery to re-attach the labrum and to reshape the femur bone to fit into the hip socket properly. She landed her third Sunshine Ladies Tour title in her fifth start this season, which bodes well for the “big three” starting next week in the Joburg Ladies Open. “This tournament was perfectly timed in the middle of the season and it has been brilliant in terms of fine-tuning our games for the Joburg Ladies Open, the Jabra Ladies Classic and the Investec South African Women’s Open,” Garcia said.

“All three events are big-money tournaments and the last two come with some serious incentives. The winner of the Jabra Ladies Classic gets a start in the Jabra Ladies Open, which is the Ladies European Tour qualifier for the Evian Championship. And the winner at Westlake gets exemption on the Ladies European Tour until the end of 2021, and spots into the AEG British Women’s Open and the Evian Championship.

“The stakes are loaded. We all honed our short-games this week, and this golf course put up a huge challenge. It was very tough out there, and I think everyone who played this week, will agree with me that we are so much sharper thanks to this experience.”

Monique Smit and Kim Williams – partnering amateurs Dana Eitzen from Canon South Africa and SAGDB member Curtley Roberts – finished third on 205.

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


22nd February 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Pros rule the Par-3 Challenge a proper test

22 February 2020 – Coming to Serengeti Estates after four tournaments on the trot, the top talents from the Sunshine Ladies Tour were looking forward to a change of pace and some good prize money on offer.

There was an abundance of friendly banter, rivalry and challenges between the 12 teams throughout Saturday’s first round of the new Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge, however, the 24 professionals and their amateur partners quickly discovered that the Whistling Thorn course is no walk in the park.

“Oh my goodness, it was tough out there,” said two-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion Nicole Garcia, who went around the par-54, 2,618 par-3 course in level par to finish at the summit of the professional leaderboard.

4. Top-ranked deaf golfer Daren Hanekom helped Team Garcia/Macdonald to the first round lead in the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge on the Whistling Thorn course at Serengeti Estates.

Garcia and fellow professional Gabrielle Macdonald from Scotland combined with amateurs Abri Kriegler and top ranked deaf golfer Daren Hanekom from the SA Disabled Golf Association to set the early target on six-under-par 102.

“This course is a proper test of shot-making and short-game skills and with the pounding wind and the sweeping rain, it was twice as hard. Birdies felt like eagles out there,” Garcia said.

Play had to be suspended twice due to dangerous conditions. During the second suspension, the round was halted. The first round resumes on Sunday morning at 6am with Team Williams/Smit in a strong position to dethrone the leaders.

Sunshine Ladies Tour champions Kim Williams and Monique Smit partnered another bright star SA Disabled Golf Association, Curtley Roberts and Canon South Africa Corporate and Marketing Communications Executive Dana Eitzen.

2. Monique Smit celebrates her amateur partner Dana Eitzen’s nett hole in one on the 15th during round one of the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge on the Whistling Thorn course at Serengeti Estates.

“We got it to six-under and had just hit our tee shots into 17 when the sirens sounded the second time,” said Smit from Oubaai. “Dana made a nett hole-in-one on the 15th and that drew us level with the leaders. There was a lot of teasing and joking in the clubhouse after, but if we can pick up one or two birdies on the last two holes, the challenge is on.”

Williams said everyone has been hugely impressed with the course.

“Most of the pros here played the championship course in the Serengeti Team Championship last year, but the par-3 course is new. It’s easily the toughest course we’ve faced this season. It’s really helping us to sharpen our short games.

“It has all the elements of what a really good par-3 course should have – elevated greens with lots of slopes, loads of bunker protection and it is really tough to up-and-down from gorse-like grass around the greens.”

British pair Jane Turner and Lauren Taylor, who played with amateur Tyron Groenveld and Ryan McClatchie clocked in on four-under.

“Everyone contributed to our score, which was really great. We had a huge amount of fun and laughter out there,” said Turner, who hopped a flight to Johannesburg just a few hours after her play-off victory in the SA Women’s Masters on Friday.

“This event is the perfect break in the schedule, because it falls after four straight weeks on the road and just before we start the last three, which are all big ones. I want to applaud Canon and Serengeti on partnering on such an awesome concept. It not only gives us an opportunity to just relax and have fun with our ammies, but we can push the reset button. And, coming from two weeks on the coast, it’s brilliant to have this to adjust for the altitude and the distances ahead of next week’s Joburg Ladies Open at Soweto Country Club.”

Serengeti member Lejan Lewthwaite – already a two-time winner this season – and her partner, former SA Women’s Open champion Tandi McCallum are also on four-under, but with three-holes to play in the morning.

3. Stacy Bregman and Serengeti Estates owner David Nagel share a celebratory fist pump during the first round of the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge on the Whistling Thorn course at Serengeti Estates.

Stacy Bregman and Bonita Bredenhann from Namibia had the added pressure of playing alongside Serengeti Estates owner David Nagle, who put up an additional R100 000 to be split between the leading professional pairing.

The group will resume the first round on two-under with four to play.

“Talk about pressure,” joked Bregman. “Actually David and Tim (Kloeck) have been brilliant. The course is a lot tougher to play than it looks and we all had a bit of a shock at the start. It was a pity about the suspensions, because we had just started to find our stride.

“Dana and Dave have put a really great event on the schedule, not only because it’s a change in pace and there’s some serious money on the table. Your short-game determines your results. All the best players in the world have the strongest short-games and this course is perfectly set up to help us improve.”

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


6th February 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

French Flair seals success at Serengeti Teams

6 February 2019 – Marion Duvernay and Flora Peuch became the first French winners on the Sunshine Ladies Tour with a wire-to-wire performance in the inaugural Serengeti Team Championship on Wednesday.

The French pair posted rounds of 46 and 38 for a total of 85 points to win the first golf team event with a three-point margin at Serengeti Estates.

Duvernay and Peuch made a fast start to the tournament as they burned up the front nine of the Jack Nicklaus signature course on day one. They fired five birdies and surged into the lead with an eagle from Duvernay at the par five eighth. Another eagle from the Evian Resort golfer and further brace of birdies earned them a three-point lead over English pair Kiran Matharu and Ellie Givens.

South Africa’s Ivanna Samu and partner Lauren Taylor from England finished a further shot adrift.

Admittedly, the French duo couldn’t replicate their first round fireworks on the last day, but they staved off the chasing pack with birdies at three, five, eight, 11 and 15.

“Things went a bit south for us at 16,” said Peuch, a third season Sunshine Ladies Tour campaigner.

“Marion hit her drive in the bush and of course, I followed her. We had to make a recovery, but it’s a pretty long par five. She went for the green from 235 metres, but didn’t make it. She had to take a penalty drop after going in the water, so I laid up and chipped in.

“Then I three-putted and Marion didn’t make her bogey putt either, so we had to take a zero for the double bogey. We took it on the chin and just tried to play the last two holes in pars and make no more mistakes.”

Peuch made sure of a par at 17 and Duvernay, whose approach pitched on the lower tier of the huge green, lagged her birdie putt to two inches from the hole. She tapped in for par to seal the win.

“We are so excited about this win,” gushed Duvernay, who made her debut on the South African circuit with a top eight finish in last week’s Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open.

“When the team event was added to the schedule, we entered immediately. We played a lot of team golf as amateurs, but there are just a few team events on the pro circuit. It was a great tournament on a fantastic golf course and we are thrilled to own our first Sunshine Ladies Tour trophies.

“The vibe was fantastic and it was a great way for us foreigners to meet the South Africans and other internationals. We saw a lot of high fives and hugging and laughing going on. Flora and I are travelling together for the full nine weeks, so this was a very good test for our friendship, too.

“Flora has told me that the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am is another great event, but the courses are quite tough. This has been a really good warm-up for George and hopefully one of us can keep the winning streak going.”

Samu and Taylor shared second on 83 points with Shawnelle de Lange and Pasqualle Coffa.

Rookies Catherine LauGeorgia Oboh from Nigeria tied for third on 82 with Givens and Matharu, as well as Tandi McCallum and Kim Williams from South Africa.

South Africa’s De Lange and Coffa from the Netherlands fired a staggering nine birdies on the last day to take the low round honours with 45 points. “I met Shawnelle last week at Irene and we clicked straight-away,” said Coffa. “We decided to pair up for the team event and we really dovetailed well, especially in the final round.

“For every birdie I sunk, she answered with one. I struggled a bit last week and shot 80 in the final round at Irene, but this tournament gave me a chance to hit more free and to fire at the pins. I feel much more confident for George Golf Club and Fancourt next week.”

GolfRSA Elite Squad member Kiera Floyd from Ebotse Links and Kim de Klerk from Mossel Bay Golf Club posted rounds of 39 and 41 to take the Amateur honours with a top 10 finish on 80 points.

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


5th February 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Fire and Ice lead Serengeti Team Champs

5 February 2019 – Golf may not be the most popular sport in France, yet French golf fans flocked to the Le Golf National for the Ryder Cup last year and it’s the French who led the revolution as team golf made its first appearance on the Sunshine Ladies Tour on Tuesday.

Marion ‘Fire’ Duvernay and Flora ‘Ice’ Peuch were untouchable in the opening round of the inaugural R100 000 Serengeti Team Championship.

French pair Marion ‘Fire’ Duvernay and Flora ‘Ice’ Peuch led the opening round of the Sunshine Ladies Tour Serengeti Team Championship with 46 points at Serengeti Estates; credit Tyrone Winfield / Sunshine Ladies Tour.

Taking advantage of the Betterball format, the French duo racked up no less than seven birdies and fired two eagles at the Jack Nicklaus Signature Course at Serengeti Estates.

A total score of 46 points propelled Duvernay and Peuch to the top of the leaderboard and they will start Wednesday’s final round with a 3-point cushion.

English pair  Ellie Givens and former Tshwane Ladies Open champion Kiran Matharu edged out South Africa’s Ivanna Samu and Lauren Taylor from England by 1 point for second, while another French national – two-time Ladies European Tour winner Anne-Lise Caudal – and her South African partner Bertine Faber collaborated for 41 points to finish fourth.

 

The class of 2019 also impressed in their second start on the local circuit.

Johannesburg rookies Chiara Contomathios and Kelsey Nicholas combined for 40 points, as did first-timers Brittney Fay-Berger from KwaZulu-Natal and Benoni golfer Casandra Hall, who were flawless around the championship layout.

Former Sunshine Ladies Tour winners Tandi Mc Callum and Kim Williams made it a three-way tie for fifth when they rallied with five birdies over their last nine holes.

The early clubhouse target belonged to amateur pair Kim de Klerk from Mossel Bay and GolfRSA Elite Squad member Kiera Floyd from Benoni, who also fired the opening salvo. They were overhauled by Contomathios and Nicholas until the French pair hit their stride.

“Marion and I both played our own games, but we always had each other’s backs. We dovetailed incredibly well,” said Golf De Valescure’s Peuch. “I contributed birdies at three, seven and 15 and I hit it to six feet at the eighth to have an eagle chance, but she denied me…her putter was on fire”

Duvernay birdied two and five, but left her approach into the par five well short of the pin.

“I had 25-foot left for eagle, but Flora was close, so I guided the ball towards the cup,” said the Evian Resort golfer. “And it dropped. That’s the beauty of this format.”

The French woman notched two more gains at nine and 11 and pencilled a second three on their card with an eagle at the par five 15th, followed with another birdie at 16.

“It’s a great golf course and you can score well if you hit it in the right spots,” said Duvernay. “We both hit it great from tee to green and we made the most of our chances. We had only the one bogey. We didn’t really look at our score, but I had a feeling that we were doing well.”

Winning the tandem won’t earn them Investec Property Order of Merit points, but the French pair are still going all out for glory.

“We are playing for the trophy, the honour and the prize money,” said Peuch. “We love coming here.

“It’s a great tour. It is very well run, and we are treated really well by the players, the staff and the South Africans. It will be a great honour for us to go home as Sunshine Ladies Tour winners.”

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


4th February 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Pairs ready to rumble in Serengeti Teams

4 February 2019 – Double trouble from the Duma sisters. French flair from Marion Duvernay and Flora Peuch. An English assault from Kiran Matharu and Eleonor Givens. The sparks are bound to fly when the inaugural 36-hole Serengeti Team Championship tees off on Tuesday.

The 36-hole team event at Serengeti Estates will see 24 teams of two vie for the lion share of the R100 000 prize money. Home course favourite Lejan Lewthwaite has boosted her chances of a maiden Sunshine Ladies Tour win by roping in two-time champion Nobuhle Dlamini.

The Benoni golfer believes they have what it takes to win the Betterball tournament.

“With my course knowledge and Nobby’s huge drives, how can we fail? We are all extremely excited to get going. Betterball is so much fun and, with the best score to count on each hole, you better believe the girls will be firing at the pins,” said the Benoni golfer.

Lewthwaite and Dlamini made the trip to Morocco together to compete in the Final Stage of the Ladies European Tour in December. “We got along brilliantly and it was a no-brainer that we would team up for the Serengeti Team Championship,” said Dlamini from Swaziland.

“Lejan is the spokesperson and I am the quiet strength of this partnership. We know the strengths of each other’s games. She knows the greens really well and she’s coming off a third place finish in the Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open, so she is really fired up. That’s half the battle won.”

Lewthwaite believes her partner’s booming drives will give them the edge.

“The fairways are quite generous, but the course is heavily bunkered, so you need to be accurate off the tee and manage your second shots well,” said the Investec golfer. “Nobby drives it long and straight, which is key to scoring at this course. My short game really came alive at Irene Country Club and the putter went hot, so I believe we are in with a shout.”

Yolanda and Siviwe Duma from East London are equally confident of their chances.

“Siviwe and I started playing golf together as kids, so I don’t think there is another pairing in the field that know each other as well as we do,” said Yolande. “She has the long game and I am the better putter. We will play to our strengths. Usually its sibling rivalry, but we’re playing for each other this week. It would be amazing to win with my sister.”

Swiss golfer Clara Pietri kicked off her last two seasons on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.

As soon as the new event was announced, she booked three-time champion Monique Smit as a partner. “Monique is one of the most consistent players on the tour and it’s wise to play with someone local that can guide you,” Pietri said. “We’ve known each other for a while now, and I knew we would have a lot of fun.

“We had a great practice round and made a bunch of birdies. The course is immaculate and the greens are rolling so true. They are big, with a lot of slope, so you will need to put your approach shots close. I’m looking forward to the tournament. It’s a fantastic concept.”

Two players to watch are Anne-Lise Caudal from France and Benoni golfer Casandra Hall, who were both in contention in the Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open last week. Caudal, a two-time Ladies European Tour winner, will partner South Africa’s Bertine Faber and former SA Women’s Amateur Stroke Play champion Hall will team up with fellow rookie Brittney-Fay Berger.

Another rookie pairing to watch are Nigerian rising star Georgia Oboh and South Africa’s Catherine Lau, who earned a card for the LPGA Tour of China with a third place finish at Q-School in January.

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