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14th December 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Sunshine Ladies Tour announces 2021 schedule

14 December 2020 – The Sunshine Ladies Tour today announced its 2021 schedule and women’s golf fans can look forward to six weeks of action, capped by the Investec South African Women’s Open from 18-20 March in the City of Cape Town.

The eighth season of the local women’s professional circuit launches with the Cape Town Ladies Open at Royal Cape Golf Club from 3-5 February.

Next up is the annual Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am from 12-14 February. The eighth edition will boast a purse of R600 000, with an additional R100 000 up for grabs for the leading 10 teams in the Better Ball Pro-Am competition. The first two rounds will be played at George Golf Club and the final round will be contested at the Outeniqua Course at Fancourt.

From George, the circuit travels to Sun City for the SuperSport Ladies Challenge presented by Sun International, where the immaculate Gary Player Country Club – host venue of the 2020 South African Open Championship – will once again serve up an exciting challenge from 24-26 February.

The Sunshine Ladies Tour then spends two weeks in Johannesburg for the Joburg Ladies Open and the Jabra Ladies Classic before returning to the Mother City for the season-finale showpiece.

The popular Joburg Ladies Open makes its sixth appearance on the circuit from 3-5 March and returns to the Soweto Country Club for a third successive year. The following week, the Jabra Ladies Classic celebrates its third edition at Glendower Golf Club.

Westlake Golf Club will bring down the curtain on what promises to be another exciting season of building women champions when it hosts the country’s flagship event for a fourth successive year. The Investec South African Women’s Open will once again be co-sanctioned between the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Ladies European Tour and carry a prize fund of €200 000 (approximately R3.6-million).

“Although we have a slightly shortened schedule in 2021, we are excited to offer our players some wonderful incentives next year,” said Sunshine Ladies Tour General Manager Pauli van Meersbergen.

“The 2021 Investec Order of Merit will commence with the Cape Town Ladies Open. It will be based on a points system and the winner at the conclusion of the Investec South African Women’s Open will receive a bonus prize of R100 000.

“At this time, we are unable to confirm the incentives on offer to the winners of the Jabra Ladies Classic and the Investec South African Women’s Open.  However, once confirmed by the Ladies European Tour, they could result in life-changing opportunities for our players.

“These incentives will add up to huge rewards for the players supporting the Sunshine Ladies Tour and will undoubtedly make for another highly competitive season of inspiring feats, rousing shot-making and contests to savour.”

Sunshine Tour Commissioner Thomas Abt said it is wonderful to see the Sunshine Ladies Tour continue as strong as ever, despite the hardships golf in South Africa experienced in 2020.

“Since the Sunshine Ladies Tour launched in 2014, the circuit has blossomed and grown into a wonderful stage where the next generation can cut their teeth and build experience competing against the top talents from South Africa and abroad,” said Abt.

“Over the last seven years, the tour has showcased the talents of international champions Ashleigh Buhai and Lee-Anne Pace and campaigners Stacy Bregman, Nicole Garcia and our 2020 Investec Order of Merit winner Monique Smit.

“The Sunshine Ladies Tour has also proven highly successful in building future champions, including Lejan Lewthwaite, Nobuhle Dlamini and Casandra Hall, who are all competing on the Ladies European Tour now. The next generation have also greatly benefitted from the experience of competing at this level, with the likes of Zethu Myeki, Kajal Mistry, Kaiyuree Moodley, Caitlyn Macnab and Kaylah Williams all excelling at amateur level.

“The Sunshine Ladies Tour increasingly draws a growing pool of international competitors, who come out to South Africa to take advantage of our weather, our great golf courses and a highly competitive circuit at the start of the year. And our partnership with the Ladies European Tour provide our local players great opportunities to gain access to the international stage. We look forward to another successful Sunshine Ladies Tour in 2021.”

Margie Whitehouse, chair of the Women’s Professional Golf Association, welcomed the announcement.

“We are delighted that the Sunshine Ladies Tour will celebrate its eight season in 2021,” said Whitehouse. “Despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and nationwide lockdown, we will host a strong run of tournaments next year thanks to the incredible loyalty of our sponsors and partners.

“Globally, golf has proven itself as a sport that can be played safely. The South African golf industry has adapted quickly to manage the restrictions and has the operational experience and established GolfRSA Covid-secure practices to guarantee that the 2021 Sunshine Ladies Tour can tee off with great success next year.”

Peta Dixon, Head of Sponsorships Investec SA, said Investec is proud of their continued involvement with the Sunshine Ladies Tour.

“Investec threw its support behind the Sunshine Ladies Tour since its inception and it has been an encouraging and rewarding journey to witness the growth of the local women’s professional circuit over the last seven years,” Dixon said.

“Investec is honoured and delighted to partner the Sunshine Ladies Tour in showcasing the incredible talent of women in golf and to help our golfers achieve the opportunity to compete on the global stage. We are invested in the next generation of women and we believe that these athletes should be recognised for their dedication and achievements. As the title sponsor of the Investec South African Women’s Open and the Investec Order of Merit, we proudly promote the growth and development of South African women in sport.”

2021 SUNSHINE LADIES TOUR SCHEDULE

FEBRUARY

3-5        Cape Town Ladies Open
               R200 000 / Royal Cape Golf Club

12-14    Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am
               R600 000 / R100 000 Better Ball Pro-Am
George Golf Club / Outeniqua Course at Fancourt

24-26    SuperSport Ladies Challenge presented by Sun International
                R400 000 / Gary Player Country Club

MARCH

3-5        Joburg Ladies Open
               R500 000 / Soweto Country Club

10-12    Jabra Ladies Classic
               R600 000 / Glendower Golf Club

18-20    Investec South African Women’s Open*
                €200 000 / Westlake Golf Club
* Ladies European Tour co-sanctioned


28th February 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Smit claims emotional victory in Soweto

28 February 2020 – Monique Smit claimed an emotional fourth Sunshine Ladies Tour title at the R500 000 Joburg Ladies Open, where she tapped in for par at the final hole to emerge from an enthralling finale with a one-shot victory.

Almost exactly a month ago, the South African won a four-way play-off to clinch the 20th and final card on offer for the 2020 Ladies European Tour season at the final stage of the LET Qualifying School in Spain.

The 28-year-old George golfer brought that same big match temperament to Soweto Country Club on the final day to edge out overnight leader Sideri Vanova with a two-under-par 70 to triumph on one-under 217.

Vanova from the Czech Republic started the day with a seven shot advantage, but the Oubaai golfer started to close the gap in impressive fashion with birdies at the second and third holes.

“I hit a solid 8-iron straight at the pin, four feet short of the hole and boxed the putt for birdie,” said Smit. “On third, I managed to get it on for two. It should have dropped for eagle, but just slipped past and I had a tap-in birdie.”

Smit bounced back from a double bogey on the fourth with another gain on the par four fifth and countered a drop on the eight with a birdie on nine to turn one-under.

“The fourth was just an oops on the scorecard. On five, I took a lesser club and hit it hard and I got a favourable kick on to the upper tier of the green and holed a beautiful 15-footer for birdie. And I made another solid birdie on nine to keep the momentum going.”

Vanova – chasing a career first victory in her debut on the South African women’s professional golf circuit – aided Smit’s challenge when she dropped five shots on the outward loop.

With her lead cut to just one shot, the Czech golfer started the back nine with five straight pars, but Smit matched her shot for shot, including answering Vanova’s birdie on the par four 15th with one of her own.

“The birdie on 15 was a super lucky one. I hit a good 3-wood down the fairway and I took a three-quarter wedge into the green because we had a bit if wind from behind. I started it out a fraction to the right and I got such a good member’s bounce. It stopped five feet from the pin, and I knocked it in to stay one shot behind Sideri.”

Both players had just hit their second shots into the 16th when play was suspended for dangerous conditions.

A heavy 60-minute downpour during the nearly three hour suspension had left the firm greens a little more receptive, but the already penalising rough absolutely brutal. Smit made a superb par from the back of the green, while Vanova failed to capitalise on a 12 footer for birdie on 16.

“Sideri took on the pin on 17 (par three). She overshot the green and caught a bad bounce that left her in the trees. She dropped another shot and I made a good par to level the score,” Smit said.

On 18, the 30-year-old Czech paid the price of an errant drive when she leaked her tee shot left into the rough. Smit’s percentage golf earned her a share of the lead on the penultimate hole and a cautious 3-wood off the tee on the final hole set her up for the win.

“The rough had been so punishing on a dry day, but with the rain it was like chewing gum. Sideri hit her second shot with absolutely everything she had, but she only advanced it a few metres. She hit a magnificent third out of the rough, though and was about 15 feet short right of the pin,” Smit explained.

“I was well behind her with the 3-wood off the tee and had the advantage of going first. I just wanted to find the putting surface when I saw her in the rough. I lagged my first putt to half a foot and she nearly holed her putt. Unfortunately it pulled up short and I had the par putt for the win.”

Smit was visibly emotional in a post-round interview and dedicated the victory to her mom Rejeanne, who passed away last year. “Mom was always on the bag over six seasons on the Sunshine Ladies Tour. She was on the bag for my first win in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am in 2014 and she shared in all my great moments and the not-so-great ones,” said the 28-year-old.

“She was my best friend and my biggest supporter and the hardest thing I ever had to do was to lay my mom to rest. To come into the final day with a seven-shot deficit was nothing compared to that. I could hear her tell me just give an extra 10% and I did that today.

“I tried to win the Joburg Ladies Open for four years, and finally Bongi Mokaba from the City of Joburg has given me the trophy. I am so proud of the way I achieved it. Soweto Country Club demands respect and rewards it, and that is what I did for 54 holes. I stayed true to my game plan to hit fairways and greens and to show the course respect. I’m absolutely over the moon with this result.

. I am so proud of the way I achieved it. Soweto Country Club demands respect and rewards it, and that is what I did for 54 holes. I stayed true to my game plan to hit fairways and greens and to show the course respect. I’m absolutely over the moon with this result.

“I want to congratulate Sideri on a wonder start to her season. Her smile never wavered, no matter what happened out there and she is a wonderful ambassador for the game, a great example to other pros and a fantastic role model for the youth. I’m sure we will be seeing more of her in the next two weeks.”

Vanova closed with a round of 78 to seal a runner-up finish, while Stacy Bregman took third on six-over with her final round 73. Fourteen-year-old Stephanie Barbaglia won the leading amateur prize. The Bryanston golfer carded rounds of 73, 79 and 76 to tie for seventh.

The Sunshine Ladies Tour travels to Glendower Golf Club next week for the R600 000 Jabra Ladies Classic, where the international field will fight it out for the winner’s share and a spot in the Jabra Ladies Open on the Ladies European Tour from 4-6 March.

This is the penultimate event before the season wraps up with Investec SA Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club from 12-14 March.

The Sunshine Ladies Tour showpiece, co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour and the Women’s PGA of South Africa, boasts a €200 000 prize fund and the winner not only earns exemption on the Ladies European Tour until the end of 2021, but will tee it up in two Majors this year – the AIG British Women’s Open and the Evian Championship.

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


27th February 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Vanova eyes maiden glory in Joburg Ladies Open

27 February 2020 – Sideri Vanova took one huge step towards a maiden Sunshine Ladies Tour title after the Czech opened up a commanding lead heading into the final round of the Joburg Ladies Open in Soweto.

Vanova threatened to run away with the title during the first 12 holes of the second round, carding birdies on the second and fifth holes and racking up three more after the turn at Soweto Country Club.

However, four bogeys on the bounce from the par four 13th pegged her back and she moved to a four-under total after solid pars saw her closing with a one-under 71.

No-one in the closing pack jumped at the chance to close gap, although Monique Smit managed to cling to second place. The Oubaai golfer will start the final round a yawning seven-shots off the pace on three-over, after mixing a lone birdie with five birdies for a 76.

Two promising stars – Lindi Coetzee from Hartebeespoort Dam and Dutch rookie Zhen Bonton – both surged to four-over with level par rounds of 72. The duo share third with three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Kim Williams, who registered a 75 after a double bogey finish.

Indian’s Sharmila Nicollet, Stacy Bregman, Investec Order of Merit leader Lejan Lewthwaite and rookie Tara Griebenow were all a shot further back on five over.

The second round belonged to one woman only and Vanova was thrilled to start her season with such a strong performance in the R500 000 showpiece in Soweto.

“It’s definitely not what I expected; to be leading in my first start is a huge surprise,” said the Dubai-based golfer.

“I’m really pleased to be in such a strong position, because I put a lot of hard work in with my coach in the off-season. We changed my swing, my short-game, my putting…we basically changed everything and I was nervous to see how the changes would hold up. It will be good to see if I can keep it going for one more round.”

Vanova’s was the only sub-par round on the second day and she was philosophical about the four shots she squandered on the homeward loop.

“Today was an up and down round,” she said. “I started off really well, but it got really tough on the back nine. The greens were very firm. I found them much harder today than in the first round and it was difficult to control your approach shots.

“On 13, I pitched it just short of the green after a perfect drive. The ball took one bounce onto the green and another bounce and shot off the back and I couldn’t up-and-down. On 14 I was a bit more cautious with the approach and ended up three-putting from 50 metres.

“I had two bad breaks and I made two mistakes. These things happen in this game, but it broke my flow and it took me a while to get it back. I was happy to finish with two good pars. I’m pretty happy with where I’m at right now.

“The course was really tricky, because if you miss the fairway you are in deep grass and you battle to save par. When you add the firm greens, I am not surprised at the scoring.”

Vanova has barely missed a fairway in 36 holes and her on-song short-game has served up nine birdies in two sub-par rounds. Behind her, her challengers have been paying the price of errant tee shots and pin-seeking approaches.

“I drove it really well, but one or two iron shots got away from me. But it felt like a different golf course out there, because the greens were way firmer than in the first round,” said Smit. “We were able to stop the ball on the greens on day one, but today we struggled and you had to watch your pace on the putts not to rush them five to 10 feet past.”

Bontan was one of the few campaigners who improved on day two and the former Dutch National champion said better driving helped her to shave four shots off an opening 76.

“I put myself in much positions off the tee and gave myself opportunities to get on the green. I did have two bogeys, but I got it back to level with birdies on four and 10 and made some solid pars the rest of the way.”
The 22-year-old Woudenberg golfer described the Gary Player-layout as a really good test. “You need to be accurate off the tees, you must have a solid short game and a hot putter.

“It’s a really fantastic layout and in really good condition, and I love that I got to play my first Sunshine Ladies Tour event here. This is a great way for me to ease into my pro career and to build some form for the LET Assess Series, which starts in April.”

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


26th February 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Vanova delighted to lead the way in Soweto

26 February 2020 – Sideri Vanova didn’t know what to expect when she teed it up in the Joburg Ladies Open on Wednesday, but the Czech was pleasantly surprised to get her 2020 campaign off to a flying start at the Soweto Country Club.

Vanova fired a three-under-par 69 in her Sunshine Ladies Tour debut to lead the field, finishing one shot clear of Maria Beautell from Spain and two strokes ahead of birthday girl Monique Smit.

Scotland’s Jane Turner – who won her second title at San Lameer Country Club just last Friday – went around the Gary Player-designed layout in 72 strokes to finish alone in fourth, with Kim Williams, Investec Order of Merit winner Lejan Lewthwaite and Bryanston amateur Stephanie Barbaglia a further stroke adrift.

Vanova reeled in four birdies – including consecutive gains on 14 and 15 – to turn four-under, but interrupted a string of pars on her homeward loop with a lone bogey at the par three seventh.

“I switched coaches at the end of last year and spent the entire off-season on swing changes. I really didn’t know what to expect when I put my game under pressure, but I think it went well,” said the 31-year-old Ladies European Tour campaigner. “I was really consistent off the tee with the driver and the irons and I was very accurate with my approach shots. That was really key for me. We worked a lot of tightening up my short-game and the whole game came together well today.”

Vanova’s only previous visit to South Africa was during the 2018 Investec South African Women’s Open, which is co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Ladies Tour. Instead of following the Ladies European Tour to Australia, she decided to kick off her season in the R500 000 Joburg Ladies Open to hone her game for this year’s €200 000 showpiece at Westlake next month.

“It’s such a long trip from Australia to South Africa, so I am really happy with my decision. I stayed in Dubai to work with my coach and came out for this week and the Jabra Ladies Classic next week to get the game in shape,” she said.

“It’s only an eight-hour flight to South Africa and I will have two extra days in Cape Town to adjust to sea level. The Sunshine Ladies Tour is very competitive, so it’s a great circuit to have to get ready. There are about 30 of us in the field this week, so it looks like a lot of other internationals have elected to play the Sunshine Ladies Tour this year, instead of Australia.”

Beautell is a past SA Women’s Masters champion and has been a staunch supporter of the Sunshine Ladies Tour for the last seven years. “I love coming out to the South Africa every year to prepare for the start of the season, which is usually around April for me,” said Beautell.

The Tenerife golfer mixed five birdies with two bogeys on her front nine, but racked up nine straight pars coming home. “It was a bit up-and-down, but I definitely control my game better on the last nine holes,” she said. “That’s how I would like to start tomorrow. I had a good start to the season with a top 12 finish in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am and was top seven at San Lameer, so I’m moving in the right direction.”

Birthday girl Monique Smit was happy to lead the South African challenge on day one of the R500 000 Joburg Ladies Open at Soweto Country Club; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour

Smit, coming off back-to-back top five finishes, had three birdies on the bounce from the par five 12th after a birdie start, but let the lead slip with bogeys on 17, six and seven.

“The course is really tight and if you are just a metre of so off the fairway, you are punished quite severely and that’s what happened to me,” said the Oubaai golfer.

“I made three really good birdies early on and held the momentum, but paid the price for not hitting fairways on the back nine. I’m more than happy to be one-under and just two behind. There still a lot of golf to be played.”

Fourteen-year-old Bryanston amateur Stephanie Barbaglia – playing alongsidefirst round leader Sideri Vanova from the Czech Republic, sits just four shots off the pace in joint fifth after the first round of the R500 000 Joburg Ladies Open at Soweto Country Club.

Barbaglia, playing with Vanova for the first two rounds, was impressed with the leaders’ course management. “I wanted to play with the pros to learn from them and watching Sideri out there was incredible,” said the 14-year-old Gauteng junior.

“She barely missed a fairway and her approach shots were very accurate; just once or twice she got a hard bounce, but most of the time she was within two or three feet from the hole. I really saw how important a good short game is and I’m excited to play with her again on Thursday.”

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

 

 

 


25th February 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Soweto Country Club in top condition for Joburg Ladies Open

25 February 2020 – The Sunshine Ladies Tour campaigners were full of praise for the Soweto Country Club green-keeping staff ahead of Wednesday’s first round of the R500 000 Joburg Ladies Open.

Seeing the course for the first time, three-time champion Nicole Garcia was positively gushing about the greens.

“I didn’t play last year because I was still on the bench after my hip surgery. The girls told me that the greens were incredibly firm, and the fairways were still patchy but I saw none of that today,” said the Ebotse golfer – the most recent trophy recipient after a double victory in the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge on Sunday.

“I was so pleasantly surprised. The course is a great test like every other Gary Player design and the greens are beautiful. The green-staff must have worked incredibly hard in the last 12 months. You can go for a lot of the pins this year, and we will see a lot more birdies. Everyone that played last year can’t stop gushing. The staff can be so proud of what they have achieved in just a short year.”

Three-time winner Monique Smit echoed Garcia’s sentiments.

“It was amazing to see the difference,” exclaimed the Oubaai golfer. “I told my caddie – the same one I had this year – walking to the first tee that we will have to plan for the firm greens, but they have settled so incredibly well. The greens are receptive and the fairways have grown in nicely. It was super-fun playing the pro-am, and watching our seeing our partners making birdies.

“This is probably one of the tightest courses we play all season, and you are going to have to keep it in play and stay out of the trees if you want to go low. Keep finding the greens. Keep it simple.”

Former South African Open champion Tandi McCallum and rookie Casandra Hall chased champion Nobuhle Dlamini all the way to the finish line last year and both players will be gunning for success.

McCallum, second last year, already wore the bridesmaid tag twice this season.

The Parkview golfer lost the SuperSport Ladies Challenge to Lejan Lewthwaite in a play-off and, this time partnering Lethwaite, they were beaten by Garcia and Scottish golfer Gabrielle Macdonald in a four-hole play-off in the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge Pro-Am.

Although she was peppering the flags in the final round at Serengeti, McCallum’s putter wouldn’t cooperate. “I had two chances in the play-off to win it with birdies, and the putts died on me. I spent some quality time with the flat-stick on Monday and I’m ready to fire. I’m driving the ball really well, so I’m confident that I can keep it play. And the girls are raving about how the greens have matured, so hopefully it’s third time lucky for me.”

Hall returned from Spain in January with a brand-new Ladies European Tour card in her pocket.

She is still chasing a maiden Sunshine Ladies Tour title and this week and the R600 000 Jabra Ladies Classic next week at her home course, possibly represents her best two chances. Third in last year’s event, the Glendower pro is keen to rekindle her love affair with Soweto Country Club.

“A lot of people didn’t like the course last year, but I loved it from the word go and it’s even better this year. I love the layout; it suits my game. The pressure will probably be a bit more this year with so many international players in the field, but competing on the Vodacom Origins series last year helped me settle into the pro environment. I survived the LET Q-School, so I’m ready to fight.”

If she can channel some positive energy, hit it straight and roll in some putts, Hall could very well be crowned the sixth Joburg Ladies Open champions on Friday.

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


| Sunshine Ladies Tour

Scottish duo target sweet success in Soweto

25 February 2020 – Scottish hopefuls Gabrielle Macdonald and Hannah McCook are among a 30 international campaigners hoping to make their first visit to the Soweto Country Club this week a memorable one.

Macdonald and McCook are looking forward to teeing it up in the first round of the R500 000 Joburg Ladies Open at the iconic Gary Player-designed venue on Wednesday.

“We didn’t play the Joburg Ladies Open last year, and everyone raved about the event, so we planned for it this season,” said former Scottish Women’s Amateur champion MacDonald.

“We arrived in South Africa last week, happy to exchange snow and sub-zero temperatures for sunny skies, and all fired up for the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge, but it didn’t quite work out that way.

“The wind blew really cold and hard, and it made a very tough par-3 championship course even tougher. Of course, everyone kept telling us we must be feeling right at home. It wasn’t quite the sunny start we dreamed of, but it was a fantastic way to kick off our Sunshine Ladies Tour campaign.”

Gabrielle Macdonald from Scotland in action during the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge at Serengeti Estates.

The Craigielaw golfer partnered Nicole Garcia and amateurs Daren Hanekom and Abri Kriegler to victory in the 36-hole pro-am, happy to put half of the R100 000 bonus on offer for the leading two professionals for two days’ work.

“I barely helped the team on day one, but I found my rhythm in the second round and I was happy to help the team with five birdies. Playing this event on the certainly Whistle Thorn course was probably the best way for Hannah and I to start our season here in South Africa,” said Macdonald.

“The course was very tough, with raised greens that were very slopey. The ball travels so much further in this part of the world, so we could adjust to the altitude and hone our short-games.”

McCook and Macdonald both turned professional on the back of very successful amateur careers with Scottish Golf. They made their debut in South Africa last year, but the transition has proven tough.


Scotland’s Hannah McCook in action during the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge at Serengeti Estates.

“We both did well on the Ladies European Tour Access Series, which definitely helped us to bridge the gap between amateur and pro golf, but unfortunately we didn’t make it at Q-School in January,” said McCook, a former Welsh and Irish Stroke Play champion.

“So we will be playing another season on the LET Access Series. It’s a really great circuit, though. We have a lot of tournaments and there is the opportunity to play your way onto the Ladies European Tour on the Order of Merit.

“We had a really great time out in South Africa last year, and because the LET Access only starts in April, we decided to come back. We’ll play the Jabra Ladies Classic next and the Investec SA Women’s Open before we head back. The Sunshine Ladies Tour is perfect for us to get the winter rust off and be competitive at the start of the 2020 season.”

The Scots already collected one Sunshine Ladies Tour trophy this season, thanks to Jane Turner going wire-to-wire in the Standard Bank South African Women’s Masters at San Lameer Country Club last week, but the Joburg Ladies Open is on everyone’s bucket list this year, including Lejan Lewthwaite, who is targeting a hat-trick of titles after her trophy finishes in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am and SuperSport Ladies Challenge.

Garcia, who celebrated a return to the winner’s circle at Serengeti after spending the bulk of the 2019 season on the bench after hip surgery, is another contender eager to reel in a second title.

The winner of the Joburg Ladies Open will bank the winner’s share worth R70 000 and 650 points towards the Investec Order of Merit race. Lewthwaite leads the current points list on 1 390 points from 2019 Joburg Ladies Open champion and Investec Order of Merit winner Nobuhle Dlamini (877.50 points).

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Hashtag – #joburgladiesopen
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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.


28th March 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Double delight for Dlamini in Soweto

28 March 2019 – Nobuhle Dlamini put an exclamation mark behind a dominant season with an emphatic four-shot victory in the R500 000 Joburg Ladies Open at Soweto Country Club on Thursday.

Her fourth Sunshine Ladies Tour victory – and her second win this season after her Dimension Data Ladies Challenge success last month – confirmed Dlamini as the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit champion for the 2019 season and earned the 27-year-old a bonus worth R100 000.

The big-hitting Swazi national carded a final round two-under 70 to triumph on a two-under 214 total.

“It’s a massive victory for me,” said a delighted Dlamini. “I didn’t expect to win the Joburg Ladies Open, but I put in a lot of work for this season.

Nobuhle Dlamini from Eswatini celebrated a double victory when she claimed the 2019 Investec Property Fund Order of Merit with an emphatic four-shot win in the R500 000 Joburg Ladies Open at Soweto Country Club; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

“Coming into the final event, I knew I didn’t have to win at Soweto to win the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit, but I really wanted it After the first two rounds, I knew I could win. The order of merit title would be even sweeter if I picked up a win. Two wins this season and the order of merit. I am really proud of what I’ve achieved.

“I was very excited about trying to win the Order of Merit, I think my performance at Glendower sort of sealed it for me, although it was still close. I knew I didn’t have to win the tournament to win the Order of Merit. I was really excited, but I still had a tournament to play. I’m happy to have won both.”

Dlamini began the final round on even-par with a one-shot lead over SA Women’s Masters champion Lejan Lewthwaite and two shots clear of Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie Casandra Hall.

She fired seven straight pars before dropping two shots at the par four eighth. Back-to-back birdies at nine and 10 took her back to level, and she erased another double bogey at the 11th with three birdies on the bounce from the par four 13th.

Dlamini finished two shots ahead of former South African Women’s Open champion Tandi Mc Callum, whose final round 70 earned her a runner-up finish and bumped the Parkview golfer second in the season-long points race.

Ebotse’s Hall finished solo third on six-over following a third round 76.

The round of the day – and the tournament – belonged to Lora Assad. The Johannesburg golfer scorched her way around the Gary Player-designed championship layout in 67 strokes and rocketed to joint fourth on seven-over alongside Monique Smit from Southern Cape.

Dlamini picked up her maiden pro win in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge, presented by Sun International at the Wild Coast just over a year ago and it proved a watershed moment for the Glendower professional.

“This season has been the best of my life, but the Wild Coast was the pivotal moment. That’s when I knew for certain that I could compete against the best and beat them. It changed my mind-set and I’ve just become mentally stronger since.

“I made changes to the preparation for my tournaments, and since that first win last year things have changed. I’ve been more relaxed. I trust my process and my decisions on the course. I commit to my shots and I feel much more confident.”

Playing in the heart of Soweto, made the double triumph even sweeter for the 27-year-old.

“When they first told us that the Joburg Ladies Open would be hosted here I couldn’t believe it,” Dlamini said. “I played here three years ago and it was not looking good. The greens were not good and the fairways were bumpy. It was like coming to a whole different course when we played the pro-am here on Monday. I was so pleasantly surprised and impressed.

“We owe a huge debt to Selwyn Nathan for championing the refurbishment of this course. The Sunshine Tour rallied the support of the City of Joburg, the PGA Tour and the European Tour, the R&A and sponsors like Investec, Dimension Data, Telkom, SuperSport and PPC Cement to create something incredibly special here.

“I know a lot of golfers who live in Soweto and who had to travel by taxi to go and practice at the better courses in Johannesburg. One of them lives two minutes away from the course. He came to support me in the first round and cannot wait to start practicing here.

“Selwyn, together with the sponsors have created jobs here and a fantastic legacy for the people of Soweto. The course is young, but already a great layout. It will just get better and better, and I really believe this is a championship course.”

GolfRSA Elite Squad member Zethu Myeki carded rounds of 80, 76 and 73 to claim the leading amateur honours on 13-over. The Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member tied for 13th with Lewthwaite, who finished third on the order of merit after closing with a final round 84.

Kim Williams finished fourth and Hall fifth to make it an all-Southern-African sweep of the top-five in the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit.

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


| Sunshine Ladies Tour

Dlamini poised for success in Soweto

27 March 2019 – Nobuhle Dlamini fired three birdies on the bounce down the back nine of Soweto Country Club to line up a fourth Sunshine Ladies Tour victory in the Joburg Ladies Open on Wednesday.

Dlamini began the second round tied for the lead with reigning SA Women’s Masters champion Lejan Lewthwaite, but she opened up a one-shot lead with a second successive level par 72.

The Investec golfer is still nipping at her heels on one-over following a second round 73, while Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie Casandra Hall lies a further stroke adrift on two-over, courtesy of a brace of 73s.

Former SA Women’s Open champion Tandi Mc Callum got into the mix at four-over with an even-par 72.

India’s Tvesa Malik followed a one-over opening round with a 76 on day two to slip to a tie for fifth with 2019 SA Women’s Longest Drive champion Lenanda van der Watt, who returned a 74.

Yolanda Duma fired a one-under-par 71 for the shared low round of the day. The Border golfer rocketed to joint seventh on six-under, and will have former Sunshine Ladies Tour winners Stacy Bregman and Monique Smit for company in the final round.

Dlamini is justifiably in a confident frame of mind.

She will be gunning for the double in Thursday’s final round – win the R500 000 Sunshine Ladies Tour season-finale and bank the R100 000 bonus for winning the season-long points race and it will take something special to stop her.

“I’ve had two good days as I’ve played solidly from tee to green,” said the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit leader.

“If I play like this tomorrow and make a couple more putts I should take it home “I’m looking forward to the incentive, but it would be great to win the Joburg Ladies Open.”

Dlamini followed a birdie start with a trio of bogeys and went out in two-over.

Coming home, the Glendower golfer birdied the 10th but a careless double-bogey on 11 got her into the right frame of mind. She fired three birdies in a row from the par four 13th to steady the ship and cemented herself at the top of the leaderboard with solid pars over the last three holes.

“I dropped on two of the par threes on the front nine, which was annoying,” Dlamini said.

“I made a good birdie on 10 over I overshot the green, but at the next hole I pitched it too close to the pin and it flew off the back. I chipped it short of the green two-putted for a double. I hit a great drive, so to drop two shots after being 78 metres from the hole hurt. But I’m proud of the way I came back after that.

“The greens were slightly softer in the second round, but not by much, so you really have to think your way around the course. My short game, especially the shorter pitches, was really good. If you can get it inside 12 foot, you’ve got a look at birdie, because the greens are very true.”

Aside from her obvious title ambitions, Dlamini was pleased to be playing an important golf event in the heart of Soweto.

“Whoever took the decision to make this a championship golf course has done so much for the people of Soweto, for the nation. I’ve got a lot of friends from Soweto, so they have to travel a long way to the nicer courses. Most of them can’t afford to play so it’s great to have a championship layout in their back yard.

“One of my friends actually lives a two-minute walk away from here and he came through yesterday and he said he can’t wait to play after we finish.

“A big thank you goes out to the sponsors for helping development. I’m happy that people from Soweto have jobs now, working at their own club. Hopefully we look after it, and it leaves a long lasting legacy.”

Lewthwaite, meanwhile, couldn’t replicate the fireworks from the first round, but she usually saves her best golf for the final round and could be strong contender on the last day.

“It was a little boring; no holes-in-one today,” Lewthwaite joked. “I played steady golf and I’m right where I want to be – within one shot of the leader.

“I don’t know what it is about final rounds, but I always seem to get going. Hopefully I can do the same tomorrow. I feel different in the body and the mind, I love the pressure and the tight competition at the end.”

Hall made a disastrous start with a triple bogey seven at the opening hole, but the Ebotse golfer rallied with a trio of birdies after the turn to stay firmly in contention.

“I hit it left on the first and paid the price and I was a bit panicky after that seven, but I just trusted my swing after that and I began to feel comfortable over the ball,” said last year’s SA Women’s Amateur Stroke Play champion.

“I held it together for the rest of the front nine and I was feeling great after the birdie run, but unfortunately I let another one slip at 17. I’m quite happy being two behind. Anything can happen in the final round, especially on this golf course.”

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


26th March 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Lewthwaite & Dlamini set Soweto pace

26 March 2019 – The cream really did rise to the top on Tuesday as the two main protagonists on the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit – Nobuhle Dlamini and Lejan Lewthwaite – both carded level par 72 to share the first round lead in the R500 000 Joburg Ladies Open at Soweto Country Club.

Dlamini and Lewthwaite hold a one-shot advantage over Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie Casandra Hall and India’s Tvesa Malik, who tied for third on one-over.

Fifth on her own on two-over is another rookie campaigner, Brittney-Fay Berger, while former champions Stacy Bregman and Bertine Faber share sixth with reigning South African Women’s Long Drive champion Lenanda van der Watt on three-over 75.

Coming off a runner-up finish in the Jabra Ladies Classic last week at Glendower, Dlamini has forged an almost unsurmountable lead on 1 597 point. Second placed amateur Kajal Mistry is skipping the season-finale to compete in the Western Province Amateur Championship. Lewthwaite is nipping at Dlamini’s heels in third, but another strong push in Soweto will see the Swazi national seal the deal and pocket to the R100 000 bonus in the season-long points-race.

Lewthwaite, who claimed her maiden Sunshine Ladies Tour title in the SA Women’s Masters at San Lameer last month, set the course on fire during the early stages of the opening round.

A steady two-under start through six holes was good, but her round quickly turned spectacular with an ace at the par three 17th.

“I had 173 metres to the pin playing downhill, downwind – and you have to pitch it short. If you pitch it on it’s going over. I caught a lucky bounce with a six-iron and it went in,” said the Serengeti golfer. “I said after the hole-in-one I didn’t really care what my score was, but it was fun getting my first one.”

The ‘perfect fluke’ helped Lewthwaite to go out in four-under 33, but coming home she dropped shots at the fourth and seventh before a disastrous double on her final hole (the ninth) saw her lead evaporate.

Despite her poor finish, Lewthwaite remained positive about her opening salvo in Soweto.

“It’s a pity I couldn’t finish better, but it’s the best position I’ve been in after the first round this season so I’m right where I want to be,” Lewthwaite said.

“I hit a perfect tee shot down the middle of the fairway, and actually hit a great second shot with the ball probably pitching pin-high with a gap wedge with 92 metres to the pin. I might have pitched it around 88 metres and the ball just rocketed over the green. Then I hit a bad chip and a bad putt to make double.”

Nobuhle Dlamini in action during the first round of the Sunshine Ladies Tour Joburg Ladies Open at Soweto Country Club; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour

Dlamini, meanwhile, produced a quieter scorecard with just two bogeys offset by two birdies. That was despite overpowering a number of holes as she cut doglegs with the driver and even driving the par four 16th – where she could only manage par.

“I hit quite a few drivers, there are some holes where you can take a Tiger-line,” said Dlamini. “You can still find the ball if you miss the fairway, the challenge is just how close you can get it to the hole with your approaches. The second shots are the challenge.

“On the 16th hole I hit driver on the green. So I was hitting it really nicely. I’ll take 72 today as it was playing tough out there. It would be good for me to finish strong here. I’m going to keep pushing and hope for the best.”

Malik was more than pleased with her effort in just her third start on the Sunshine Ladies Tour after debuting in the Investec SA Women’s Open in Cape Town and contending in the Jabra Ladies Classic last week.

“I thought I played a little bit better than my score suggested. I made a few silly mistakes, but I’m happy with my score,” said Malik.

“I’m focussing on my game, I’m not really worried about my position with 36 holes to go.”

Former SA Women’s Amateur Stroke Play champion Hall was equally pleased with an opening 73.

“I made a really good start in my debut in the Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open and then I set my expectations too high,” said the Benoni golfer. “The next six events were a steep learning curve, but I felt my confidence return at Glendower last week.

“It’s tough course and I’m happy to be within striking distance of the leaders. The greens are new and still very firm, so the biggest challenge here is to get the ball as close as possible to the pins. If you come in too hard, you fly the green and it’s tough to recover. It’s another great learning experience for us young pros this week.”

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

 


25th March 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Bregman targets successful first foray to Soweto

25 March 2019 – Stacy Bregman is hoping her first visit to the iconic Soweto Country Club is a winning one as the sixth Sunshine Ladies Tour season wraps up this week with the R500 000 Joburg Ladies Open.

The five-time champion will go in search of a first victory this season when the fourth edition of this prestigious tournament, sponsored by the City of Joburg, takes place at the recently renovated Soweto venue from 26-28 March.

The season-finale represents a last hoorah for Bregman to end a disappointing season on a high note.

“I felt so confident when I left for Australia after coming second in the Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open, but I had a disappointing run on the Ladies European Tour,” said the 32-year-old Johannesburg native.

“I picked up a niggling shoulder injury that got worse as the weeks past. I struggled to swing and you just can’t compete at your best when you’re not hitting the ball with confidence.

“I still had title hopes for the Jabra Ladies Classic after a tie for 12th in the Investec South African Women’s Open, but I woke up after the pro-am round in unbearable pain. I had to withdraw, but I went for intense therapy to be match ready this week.”

Bregman had to watch from the side-lines at Glendower Golf Club as good friend and fellow Ladies European Tour campaigner Anne-Lise Caudal from France became the sixth first-time winner and sixth foreign champion.

“I was really sad to miss out last week, but I enjoyed watching Anne-Lise and Nobby duel it out in the final round. We have this rivalry on the course, but off the course we are really good friends and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. In my view, they were both winners,” Bregman said.

Bregman beat Dlamini in the final event last year to win the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit, but Dlamini has turned the tables this season and has one hand on the trophy ahead of the season-finale.

While Caudal returned to France on the weekend, Dlamini will join Bregman in the 42-strong player field to challenge for the R70 000 first prize pay-out.

“The Joburg Ladies Open is on everyone’s bucket list since it launched in 2016,” said Bregman, who tied for fourth in the inaugural event at Royal Johannesburg in 2016 and lost to Ashleigh Buhai at Modderfontein last year.

“We all want the win this week and I think the course will be a great leveller. It’s a new venue for all of us and no-one has the home course advantage. It’s another fantastic Gary Player course and the design is really awesome. The greenkeeping team has done an amazing job with the greens. It’s going to be another tightly contested battle to the end this week.”

Investec Property Fund Order of Merit leader Nobuhle Dlamini; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

Dlamini’s remarkably consistent form this season has kept her in the number one spot since she added a third career Sunshine Ladies Tour title to her repertoire with a two-shot victory in the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge.

The Swazi national is primed for one final push to end a breakthrough season on a winning note to pocket the R100 000 bonus that comes with victory in the points race.

“It’s about being here now and trying to win the first event at Soweto,” said Dlamini. “You play golf until you’re really old, but these moments are the kind of ones you want to remember at the end of your career.

“It has been a great season for me and consistency was really key. Even when I haven’t played my best I still scored well, which was probably the biggest difference. And I’m looking forward to finishing the season with another strong push. It’s going to be an exciting week.”

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