Share on:
Print

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.

SOCIAL MEDIA – TOURNAMENT
Hashtag – #joburgladiesopen
TWITTER – @CityofJoburgZA
FACEBOOK – @CityofJoburg
INSTAGRAM – @cityofjoburg

SOCIAL MEDIA – SUNSHINE LADIES TOUR
Hashtags – #sunshineladiestour #InvestecGolf #itstartshere
TWITTER – @SLadiesTour
FACEBOOK – @sunshineladiestour
INSTAGRAM – @sunshineladiestour

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.”

SOCIAL MEDIA – TOURNAMENT
Hashtag – #joburgladiesopen
TWITTER – @CityofJoburgZA
FACEBOOK – @CityofJoburg
INSTAGRAM – @cityofjoburg

SOCIAL MEDIA – SUNSHINE LADIES TOUR
Hashtags – #sunshineladiestour #InvestecGolf #itstartshere
TWITTER – @SLadiesTour
FACEBOOK – @sunshineladiestour
INSTAGRAM – @sunshineladiestour

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.”

SOCIAL MEDIA – TOURNAMENT
Hashtag – #joburgladiesopen
TWITTER – @CityofJoburgZA
FACEBOOK – @CityofJoburg
INSTAGRAM – @cityofjoburg

SOCIAL MEDIA – SUNSHINE LADIES TOUR
Hashtags – #sunshineladiestour #InvestecGolf #itstartshere
TWITTER – @SLadiesTour
FACEBOOK – @sunshineladiestour
INSTAGRAM – @sunshineladiestour

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.

SOCIAL MEDIA – TOURNAMENT
Hashtag – #joburgladiesopen
TWITTER – @CityofJoburgZA
FACEBOOK – @CityofJoburg
INSTAGRAM – @cityofjoburg

SOCIAL MEDIA – SUNSHINE LADIES TOUR
Hashtags – #sunshineladiestour #InvestecGolf #itstartshere
TWITTER – @SLadiesTour
FACEBOOK – @sunshineladiestour
INSTAGRAM – @sunshineladiestour

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).

SOCIAL MEDIA – TOURNAMENT
Hashtag – #joburgladiesopen
TWITTER – @CityofJoburgZA
FACEBOOK – @CityofJoburg}
INSTAGRAM – @cityofjoburg

SOCIAL MEDIA – SUNSHINE LADIES TOUR
Hashtags – #sunshineladiestour #InvestecGolf #itstartshere
TWITTER – @SLadiesTour
FACEBOOK – @sunshineladiestour
INSTAGRAM – @sunshineladiestour

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