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14th April 2021 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

GolfRSA duo throws down gauntlet at Glendower

14 April 2021 – The Sunshine Ladies Tour challenged its participants this season to #LevelUp, but on the opening day of the R600 000 Jabra Ladies Classic, it was talented GolfRSA squad members Kyra van Kan and Caitlyn Macnab who stepped up to plate.

Macnab, South Africa’s No 1 ranked amateur, already sounded a warning with a fourth place finish in the season-opening Cape Town Ladies Open and, not surprisingly, the reigning SA Women’s Amateur champion laid down an early marker again.

Confident at the course where she lifted the 2019 Champion of Champions and the 2020 Ekurhuleni Womens Open titles, the 19-year-old Serengeti golfer mixed four birdies with a lone bogey for a solid three-under-par 69 to finish in second, a shot ahead of Lee-Anne Pace, second-season professional Lindi Coetzee and Astrid Vayson de Pradenne from France in joint third.

But even the country’s leading amateur was upstaged on the day by 15-year-old Van Kan, whom she beat in the 2020 SA Women’s Amateur final.

“I’m actually a little overwhelmed,” admitted the junior after a birdie-birdie finish propelled her to the summit on four-under. “I knew I was putting together a good round, but I hardly expected to be leading.”

The GolfRSA B-Squad member kept a clean card on her outward loop and turned two-under. “I had a bit of stumble after the turn, but I was able to eliminate both bogeys.

“I teethed it in the bunker on the first and made a good up-and-down for bogey, but I holed a birdie putt on the third to get back to two-under. On the fourth, I had a silly three-putt, but birdied the next hole. Going to the eighth tee I had no idea what was leading. I hit an okay drive, laid up with a 6-iron and pitched a sand-wedge close for birdie.

“When we got to the ninth tee, the nerves showed up. I smashed a drive with a baby draw and my caddie and I didn’t see where it ended up. We both burst out laughing when we found it just short of water. I guess the adrenaline was really flowing. I wedged it close and holed the putt. That’s when I found out I was leading.”

Although Glendower is her home course, Van Kan had to adjust her game considerably to navigate the set-up. “The course is playing a lot longer that I am used to, so although I know the greens and the bounces well, I couldn’t really count on the home course advantage.

“I had to adjust for the length, like on the seventh. I would usually hit driver, 9-iron or pitching wedge, but I had to hit driver, 3-wood on that hole. It was a learning curve, and I am really pleased that I could raise my game. My playing partners, Lauren Taylor from England and Lenanda van der Watt, were great and really helped me to get comfortable quickly on this the big stage.”

Joining Macnab and Pace in the leading match on day two could be intimidating, but the Bedfordview teenager is excited at the prospect of playing alongside two of her golfing heroes.

“I know Cat really well as we both play for Ekurhuleni and I’m excited to play with Lee-Anne. She has been a big inspiration for us juniors and it should be another great learning opportunity for me,” said Van Kan. “I am going to stick to my game plan and the way I approached the course today. Keep a positive mindset and play the course to the strengths of my game.”

LPGA Tour champion Lee-Anne Pace will start the second round of the Jabra Ladies Classic just two off the pace after an opening two-under-par 70 at Glendower Golf Club; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

Pace will be the one to watch on moving day.

The Paarl golfer has collected 13 trophies on the local circuit in addition to nine Ladies European Tour titles and success on the LPGA Tour. She started on the 10th and was two-under and bogey-free through 12 holes when she made successive bogeys on four and five, which she overturned with a brace of birdies on the seventh and eighth holes.

Spain’s Maria Beautell, Sweden’s Anna Magnusson and Michaela Fletcher share sixth on one-under, with five-time champion Stacy Bregman a further shot back in joint ninth with Nina Pegova from Poland and Belgium’s Charlotte de Corte.

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


13th April 2021 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

French winners target more success at Jabra Ladies Classic

DOWERGLEN, 13 April 2021 – A six-strong French delegation led by 2019 champion Anne-Lise Caudal will be targeting more Sunshine Ladies Tour success when the Jabra Ladies Classic tees off at Glendower Golf Club from 14-16 April.

The French clique will be among 31 international golfers representing 13 countries hoping to deny the local line-up a home victory in the R600 000 showpiece.

Caudal will draw on the positive memories of her 2019 win at the acclaimed Dowerglen championship course.

“Winning the first Jabra Ladies Classic will definitely always stand out as one of the best weeks of my career,” said the former Ladies European Tour (LET) winner, who broke a seven-year winning drought to capture the inaugural title by two shots.

“The Sunshine Ladies Tour plays such a vital role in our preparation for the LET season and we were extremely pleased when Jabra extended their fantastic support of women’s golf to South Africa. I had so many close calls on the Sunshine Ladies Tour over the years and to finally pull it through it in a Jabra event was very special. Hopefully I can do it again this week.”

Compatriot Manon Gidali is also targeting a repeat performance, following her maiden win in last week’s Cape Town Ladies Open.

The 27-year-old Parisian drained a 25-foot clutch putt on the 18th hole in a play-off at Royal Cape Golf Club to beat South Africa’s Cara Gorlei for glory in the season-opener.

“I only competed in the Investec South African Women’s Open before and I am really happy that I decided to play the full Sunshine Ladies Tour this year. The win has sunk in now and I am eager to see if I can win two this season. It would be a dream start to 2021,” said Gidali.

Young gun Ivanna Samu hopes to celebrate her comeback to professional golf with strong performance in the Jabra Ladies Classic at Glendower Golf Club from 14-16 April; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour

South African rising star Ivanna Samu warns that the South African young guns have even more reason to raise their games this week with a fantastic incentive from Jabra on the table.

“A lot of the younger girls had planned to compete on the international mini-tours or to go to qualifying schools for the LPGA or LET and everything was put on ice by the pandemic,” Samu said. “The Sunshine Ladies Tour not only gives us an opportunity to get back on track, but the leading player in the top five this week who is not already exempt on the LET will get to play in the Jabra Ladies Open.

“That is a huge incentive, because the Jabra Ladies Open is the qualifying tournament for the Evian Championship. The international players will have to bring their A-game to keep us at bay.”

For the 20-year-old Supreme Golf Academy player the 2020 season was particularly trying, as she had to delay her comeback to competitive golf once again.

“I made a really great start to my pro career on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, but then I suffered a series of setbacks. A back injury took me out of the game for months, and I lost another year when I battled with cancer. Then the pandemic stole last year, so I am raring to go.”

Samu said the challenges over the last two years have taught her some important lessons.

“I was used to dominating and winning as an amateur, and turning pro was a much bigger learning curve than I expected. The last two years have taught me to dial back my expectations; to be patient and to take things one day at a time.

“I’m really looking forward to returning to Glendower. It’s one of my most favourite courses and the layout sets up nicely for me, but I am also taking that philosophy on to the golf course. Don’t look too far ahead, but rather play shot-for-shot and hole-by-hole.”

Gorlei, too, has put the disappointment of last week’s play-off loss in the rear-view mirror.

“I drew a lot of positives from Royal Cape. I had to come from behind to get myself in the play-off. Now I just need to step it up another level,” said the 25-year-old Arkansas University graduate.

South Africa’s No 1 ranked Caitlyn Macnab, coming off a fourth place finish in the Cape Town Ladies Open, will lead the 11-strong amateur challenge at the layout where she lifted the 2020 Ekurhuleni Open and the 2019 GolfRSA Champion of Champions titles.

Other amateurs to watch include 2020 Swiss Junior National champion Elena Moosmann, Amanda Majsterek from Poland and Ekurhuleni junior Kiera Floyd, who impressed with a third place finish in the first edition of the Jabra Ladies Classic.

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


9th April 2021 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

A Mother City maiden win for Gidali at Royal Cape

CAPE TOWN, 9 April 2021 – France’s Manon Gidali holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole of the Cape Town Ladies Open to claim her maiden professional victory in the opening event of the 2021 Sunshine Ladies Tour season.

The Ladies European Tour (LET) campaigner, who started the day two shots behind leaders Cara Gorlei and amateur Caitlyn Macnab, fired a round of one-under-par 73 at Royal Cape Golf Club to finish the 54-hole event tied with local hope Gorlei on four-under-par 218.

Ultimately, it took a special putt for birdie to separate the clubhouse leaders in the ensuing sudden-death playoff.

With Gorlei having already played an exquisite bunker shot to tap-in distance for par on the second trip down the closing hole, Gidali’s inspiration came from a similar situation in the recent Qatar Open.

“I was thinking about my friend Antoine Rozner. He sank a long putt to win on the European Tour two weeks ago in Qatar and I was thinking, ‘You can do it too.’ And I made it,” said the elated Gidali.

France’s Manon Gidali holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole of the Cape Town Ladies Open to claim her maiden professional victory in the opening event of the 2021 Sunshine Ladies Tour season; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

For the 27-year-old French golfer, the victory extends an upward trend that kicked off in South Africa 12 months ago at Westlake Golf Club.

Despite starting the 2020 season with conditional status on the Ladies European Tour, the Parisian made the most of her nine starts to achieve a career-best 33rd ranking in the Race to Costa del Sol in 2020 in just nine starts – chiefly thanks to a tie for fourth in last year’s Investec South African Women’s Open, backed up by a runner-up finish in The Saudi Ladies Team International and sixth in the Andalucia Open De Espana.

Gidali is the 13th international champion and the fourth French player to enjoy success since the Sunshine Ladies Tour launched in 2014.

In 2019, Marion Duvernay and Flora Peuch combined for victory in the Serengeti Team Championship and LET winner Anne-Lise Caudal lifted the Jabra Ladies Classic title at Glendower in 2019.

Gidali opted to play in the Sunshine Ladies Tour series in order to prepare for her first full season in Europe in 2021.

“I’ve been training hard all winter so I was really excited to come out here and play,” she said.

“It means a lot to me to get my first professional win here on the Sunshine Ladies Tour. This gives me the confidence to know that I can win and obviously the next step is to win on the LET. I’m really excited to keep playing now.”

Three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Lejan Lewthwaite finished third on two-under.

Reigning South African Amateur champion Macnab edged to a three-shot lead after nine holes, but she lost momentum on the back nine and slipped out of contention with a double bogey when she found the water on the par-three 15th.

A closing bogey saw the GolfRSA No. 1 finish fourth on one-under.

Caitlyn Macnab during round 3 of the Cape Town Ladies open on 08/04/2021

“That double really hurt, but I guess it was just one of those days where things weren’t working. I feel like I can take a lot of positives away from this event and it is all part of the learning process,” said the 19-year-old. “I am happy otherwise with how my game held up and how I dealt with the pressure and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”

Macnab, who still took the Leading Amateur honour, won’t dwell too much on the missed opportunity, however, as the tour moves to Glendower for the next event, the Jabra Ladies Classic.

The Ekurhuleni golfer has tasted success before at the former SA Open venue, with wins in the 2020 Ekurhuleni Open and the 2019 GolfRSA Champion of Champions event.

Gorlei had mixed emotions after recording the best finish of her short professional career.

“It was awesome to be back in contention,” said the 25-year-old Arkansas University graduate, who joined the pro ranks last year. “I had lots of emotions going into today with a share of the lead, but after I made that double bogey at the 10th I was five shots back of Caitlyn. I had to gather myself and concentrate on my own game and I’m proud of the way I pulled things back. Onwards and upwards from here. I have stepped it up a level already and it’s only week one. There is still a lot of golf to be played this season.”

The City of Cape Town threw its support behind the Sunshine Ladies Tour in 2015 and celebrated the seventh edition of the Cape Town Ladies Open this year. The City also extended its backing to promote and develop women sport in the Western Cape as the host of the season-ending Investec South African Women’s Open since 2018.

‘We are really thrilled to be welcoming the Sunshine Ladies Tour back to the Mother City in 2021. In a period marked by uncertainty for many sporting activities and events due to Covid-19, it is encouraging that the Sunshine Ladies Tour remains resolute in achieving its goals,’ said Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.

“Our support of these golf tournaments goes back many years. This speaks to our commitment to enabling women’s sport, especially those aimed at developing the women’s game while also nurturing the next generation of the country’s top golfers. We have seen some progress over the years and we’re looking forward to continuing this partnership.”

The R600 000 Jabra Ladies Classic from 14-16 April offers the leading non-exempt LET player a spot in the Jabra Ladies Open – the qualifying event for the fourth Major, the Amundi Evian Championship at Evian Resort Golf Club in July.

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


8th April 2021 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

First Sunshine Ladies Tour showdown set in Cape Town

CAPE TOWN, 8 April 2021 – Amateur Caitlyn Macnab lived up to her No. 1 billing when she surged into a share of the lead in the Sunshine Ladies Tour season-opening Cape Town Ladies Open on Thursday.

The 19-year-old Serengeti golfer fired a flawless five-under-par 69 at Royal Cape Golf Club to finish alongside overnight leader Cara Gorlei.

Milnerton’s Gorlei lost some traction over the first 10 holes, but re-ignited her campaign with an eagle-birdie combination at the 11th and 12th holes. She regained a seat at the top of the leaderboard with a birdie finish for a two-under 72.

Sitting at five-under, both golfers will look to make history in Friday’s final round with a maiden victory on Africa’s premier professional women’s golf circuit.

Macnab, a champion for the strength of the women’s amateur game in South Africa, backed up her successful title defence in the South African Women’s Amateur Championship in February with victories in the KwaZulu-Natal Championship and Free State Open.

Ahead of the first event, the GolfRSA Elite Squad member said she was looking forward to raising her game and soaking up experience competing against the professionals before she took up a golf scholarship at Texas Christian University in August.

So far, her game has held up rather nicely and she doesn’t plan to change a thing.

“I am not going to change a thing,” said the 19-year-old Elite Squad player. “I came into the tournament with a strategy for this course and I am going to stick with it. I will try to capitalise on the par fives and to keep the ball in play. The greens are rolling very true and if I can position myself well off the tees, the birdie opportunities are out there.”

Cara Gorlei kept her bid for a maiden title on track with a second round 72 to tie for the lead on five under in the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s Cape Town Ladies Open at Royal Cape Golf Club.

For Gorlei, the putter will be key.

“I was putting beautifully before the round, but I left everything short over the first nine holes. After another close miss on the 10th, I took out another ball. I told my coach Wayne Bradley, who is on the bag this week, hopefully this one won’t be afraid of the dark,” said the 25-year-old.

“Then I eagled the 11th and the momentum changed right there. I made a few more birdies coming in and that’s what I need to bring to the final round. The rest of the game is in good nick and I’m looking forward to going head-to-head with Caitlyn. She was in the group ahead of me and playing really well, so I’m looking forward to a great battle on Friday.”

The young guns will have to bring their A-game, though, with Frenchwoman Manon Gidali and three-time champion Lee-Anne Pace in hot pursuit.

Gidali, who tied for fourth in the 2020 Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake in her last visit to South Africa, is looking for a strong start to her first full Sunshine Ladies Tour season and will start the final round two shots behind the joint leaders.

“I played really nicely in the first round, but I just didn’t score, so that was the focus today,” said the 27-year-old Ladies European Tour campaigner, who had a lone bogey in her round of 71.

“I didn’t even know what I shot today; the focus was just to keep the card clean and to pick up some shots on the field. It’s been four months since I last played competitive golf, which is why I came out to make an early start on the Sunshine Ladies Tour. It’s really great to have this tour where we can prepare for the start of the LET season. And playing in the sun is just fantastic.”

Former LPGA Tour winner Pace closed the gap on the frontrunners with a four-under 70.

“I’m really happy with the way my game is shaping up,” said Pace, the winner in 2016, 2018 and 2020. “The start was a bit scrappy but got it to level before the turn and everything fell into place on the back nine. I’m striking the ball well and I’m close. I’m pleased that I made four birdies and didn’t drop a shot over the last nine holes.

“I have always loved this tournament and this course and it would be great to start the season on a winning note again after such a disappointing 2020.”

Three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Lejan Lewthwaite returned a 73 to finish alone in fifth on one-under.

Dutch golfer Pasqualle Coffa matched Macnab’s low round of the day to move to sixth position on one-over, with Scottish pair Jane Turner and Rachael Taylor, Emie Peronnin from France and Stacy Bregman rounding out the top 10 on two-over.

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


7th April 2021 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Gorlei soars to Cape Town Ladies Open summit

CAPE TOWN, 7 April 2021 – Milnerton golfer Cara Gorlei topped a crowded leaderboard after the first day of a new Sunshine Ladies Tour season as her three-under-par round of 71 earned her a one-shot lead in the Cape Town Ladies Open on Wednesday.

Her local knowledge came into good use and Gorlei showed her intent with a flying start, opening with a birdie at Royal Cape Golf Club and notching another at the par five third.

She cancelled two bogeys with another brace of birdies, but the testing conditions on the back nine offered fewer opportunities to score. A fifth birdie on the par-five 16th edged the 25-year-old to a slim advantage over Scotland’s Rachel Taylor.

Thrilled to take the early lead, Gorlei is unlikely to get too comfortable with 36 holes to go.

Apart from Taylor on her heels, Manon Gidali from France, rookie Nadia van der Westhuizen and GolfRSA’s No 1 ranked amateur Caitlyn Macnab lurk at level-par, while a further six players assembled on one-over. Even defending champion Lee-Anne Pace, who suffered an untimely double bogey on the short 15th hole, poses a threat at two-over.

Gorlei closed the door on a stellar amateur career in 2020 after four years at the University of Arkansas. It was during this stretch that she also won the prestigious South African Women’s Amateur Championship.

She came close to a maiden win during her pro debut on the Sunshine Ladies Tour and a runner-up finish in the SA Women’s Masters helped the Capetonian to close out her rookie season ranked ninth in the Investec Order of Merit.

“Four years playing on the Arkansas Razorbacks Golf Team to convince me that I have what it takes to pursue a career in golf and making a strong start on the Sunshine Ladies Tour just further strengthened my resolve to take my game to the next level,” Gorlei said.

“I was very lucky that I didn’t have to press pause on my 2020 season due to the Covid-19 pandemic. I was able to get on an expatriate flight to the United States and I spent five months competing on the Womens All Pro Tour and the Symetra Tour. I gained so much insight and experience competing abroad and hopefully I can put it all into practice this season to get into the winner’s circle.”

She came to South Africa to escape the harsh winter cold in Scotland – can you blame Rachel Taylor for taking a minute to enjoy the sun on her face during the opening round of the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s Cape Town Ladies Open at Royal Cape Golf Club?

Taylor, meanwhile, was pleased as punch with her first competitive round on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.

“I decided to join some of my fellow Ladies European Tour Access Series campaigners and spend some time in the sun,” said the Glaswegian. “It’s really cold back home and I don’t enjoy the cold, so I thought I’d make my first trip to South Africa and have some fun before the season kicks off in Europe. I had no idea I had done so well

“I just made three pretty standard birdies going out. You know, fairway, green, putt … nothing fancy. It was a wee bit windier coming home. I dropped a shot on the sixth, but that happens. I was just enjoying myself and looked what happened. I’m really quite pleased about that.”

Macnab, who cemented her No 1 billing with two provincial victories since defending her SA Women’s Amateur title in February, cancelled a trio of birdies with three bogeys for a level-par round, but the Serengeti golfer hopes to step it up over the next 36 holes.
“I could have been better, but I struggled a little bit with the driver,” said the 19-year-old GolfRSA Elite Squad member. “You have to hit fairways on this course to position yourself for your shots into the green. I made a few putts and a lot of good swings, but there is definitely room for improvement.”

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6th April 2021 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Young guns ready to raise the bar on the Sunshine Ladies Tour

CAPE TOWN, 6 April 2021 – Alice Hewson’s winning putt in last year’s Investec South African Women’s Open on the Sunshine Ladies Tour summed it all up.

The 23-year-old English professional represented the emerging breed of young golfers primed to become a dominant force in the game for many years to come.

Casandra Hall – one of eight South Africans campaigning on the Ladies European Tour (LET), says Hewson’s winning performance at Westlake definitely inspired the country’s young talents to raise their game.

“Alice won the 2019 English Ladies Amateur, turned pro and won on debut here in South Africa. We definitely got the message that if you work hard and you make the most of the opportunities that come your way, the world can be your oyster.

“It may take some of us a little longer, but it was inspiring to watch someone our age defy the odds. She beat some seriously seasoned players at Westlake a lot of younger golfers like myself were motivated to level up this year.”

Hall finished her rookie season in 2019 in sixth spot on the Investec Order of Merit and her second season was equally solid.

A few months after a top 25 finish at Westlake, the Glendower golfer took a page out of Hewson’s book. The new kid on the block held off LET campaigners Nicole Garcia, Monique Smit, Stacy Bregman, Nobuhle Dlamini and Lejan Lewthwaite for her maiden success in the Investec Royal Swazi Open at Sun City.

“Although I won twice on the Vodacom Origins of Golf Series, we had spent so many months waiting out the lockdown, so to beat Sunshine Ladies Tour winners with my game still a bit rusty was the greatest feeling ever. It was great to tick that box,” said the 21-year-old Glendower golfer.

“It was frustrating to sit with a new LET card and not being able to travel to Europe, but 2020 was still a great year for me. I had the win at Sun City and I was the first woman to play on the Virtual Sunshine Tour series. In November I made the field for the Saudi Ladies International and although I didn’t do well in the individual competition, I did hole the winning putt for the International Team in the Team Competition and I flew home after a pretty decent pay-day.

“I am so excited to step it up another gear this season and win one of the six tournaments, if not two. I’d really like to win the Investec SA Women’s Open. It’s the one title we all want, but it also comes with some incredible perks, like the LET exemption. The prize money is huge and, as a South African, you’d also bank the R100 000 Investec Homegrown Award. That would go a long way in setting me up for Europe this season.”

Hall will start her title chase in the Cape Town Ladies Open at Royal Cape Golf Club on Wednesday, but she expects some tough competition.

“Besides all the seasoned pros, you have the likes of Ivanna Samu, Zethu Myeki, Cara Gorlei, Michaela Fletcher and Brittney Fay-Berger, who will all looking for a fast start,” said Hall.

“Ivanna was one of our best amateurs and she made a great start in the pro ranks, but then she suffered a back injury and a battle with cancer. She fought really hard to come back and she will be so eager to push the reset button.

“The others had all just started their pro careers when the pandemic struck so they will be just as keen to get out of the blocks fast. It’s going to get interesting this week.”

Randpark’s Myeki is also ready to push the reset button, especially after losing her brother to the corona virus just before New Year.

“The vibe this morning at Royal Cape during the practice round was electric. You could literally feel the excitement in the air. We are all amped to get the season going and I think this year we will see a lot of players’ answer the Sunshine Ladies Tour to level up,” she said.

“I am personally really excited about this season. I had to put my plans for Europe on ice, so I am going all out. I want to learn as much as I can. I want to soak up experience and I want to win.”

Myeki, who represented South Africa on the international stage seven times, was thrilled to see a 17-strong amateur field led by reigning SA Women’s Amateur and GolfRSA No.1 Caitlyn Macnab tee it up in the season-opener.

“The Sunshine Ladies Tour is the best platform for these girls to test themselves and get a realistic look at where their games are, and of course, to gain experience. We lost so many great amateurs because there wasn’t a professional circuit around to transition from amateur golf up to 2014. I was so fortunate that I could play the circuit as an amateur to prepare me for the next level and I hope they also embrace this opportunity with both hands,” Myeki said.

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5th April 2021 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

SA’s top pros primed to throw down the gauntlet in Cape Town

CAPE TOWN, 5 April 2021 – South African leading lights Nicole Garcia, Monique Smit and Lejan Lewthwaite aim to make statement of intent when the 2021 Sunshine Ladies Tour launches in Cape Town this week.

The eighth season gets underway with the Cape Town Ladies Open at Royal Cape Golf Club from 7-9 April, where the field will vie for the lion’s share of the R200 000 prize fund and an early move on the season-long Investec Order of Merit race.

“Six weeks, six events, more than R6-million in prize money and a load of amazing incentives; you bet we are champing at the bit to get going,” said Garcia.

A three-time winner on Africa’s premier women’s professional golf circuit, Garcia missed a full season in 2019 due to hip surgery. She had high hopes of making a comeback last year, but the global Covid-19 pandemic put paid to her plans.

“The last 12 months has been frustrating, especially for the Ladies European Tour (LET) campaigners,” she said. “South Africa went into the Level 5 lockdown shortly after the Investec South African Women’s Open and the LET also pressed pause on their 2020 schedule until August.

“With the long breaks between events and trying to work around all the travel restrictions, the season was really a write-off for most of us. That’s why we all are so eager to push the reset button.

“We are incredibly blessed that the Sunshine Ladies Tour sponsors and partners are backing us in these trying times. The Sunshine Ladies Tour tagline this season is “level up” and it is certainly the right time for all of us to embrace that and take things to the next level.”

Smit echoed Garcia’s thoughts.

“It was definitely a season of highs and lows,” said the George golfer, who won the 2020 Investec Order of Merit, courtesy of victory in the Joburg Ladies Open and a runner-up finish in the Investec South African Women’s Open.

“It was ironic that I hit the best form of my career in the worst year ever. I had such a fantastic season at home, and qualified for my first AIG Women’s Open. The rest of the season is hardly worth mentioning, but I did qualify as a barista during the lockdown, so there is that silver lining.

“I am really excited to kick off this season with a bang. Besides the prize money, we have so many incentives to shoot for this year. There are chances to secure starts in the Jabra Ladies Open, which is the qualifying event for The Amundi Evian Championship, and the Big Green Egg Dutch Ladies Open in the Netherlands, not to mention all the opportunities this year’s Investec South African Women’s Open offers the South Africans.

“Besides earning tour winner’s status for the LET, it’s the qualifying tournament for the U.S. Women’s Open. Imagine having the chance to qualify for the biggest major right here on home soil.

“Plus, if the winner is a South African, she’ll win the Investec Homegrown Award, which is worth another R100 000. For a seasoned pro or an up-and-coming rookie that’s a huge bonus to use towards travel costs. And, of course, R100 000 for winning the Investec Order of Merit. It’s all to play for this year.”

Lewthwaite, who won the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge and the SuperSport Ladies Challenge, hosted by Sun International last year, finished third on the Investec Order of Merit and was primed to play her first full season on the LET.

“I definitely had high hopes after a successful season at home, but at least I did get to play a few LET events and gain some invaluable experience. So I am ready to pick up where I left off and I think this season is going to be incredible.
“We see more international players come out to South Africa year-on-year because the Sunshine Ladies Tour is so perfectly positioned to build competitive form before the European season starts.

“And this year we should see even more top professionals on the tour with the Investec South African Women’s Open being a qualifier for the U.S. Women’s Open. That’s great news for the seasoned pros and the rookies and the amateurs, too. I cut my teeth on the Sunshine Ladies Tour when I came back from college in the USA and it is such a great circuit to build experience.”

The Sunshine Ladies Tour’s most prolific winner Lee-Anne Pace will headline the field in the season-opener in the Mother City. The LPGA champion will be chasing an unprecedented fourth Cape Town Ladies Open title, having won the event in 2016, 2018 and 2020.

Other players on the watch list include LET campaigners Stacy Bregman, Casandra Hall and eSwatini standout Nobuhle Dlamini, Sunshine Ladies Tour winners Jane Turner from Scotland and France’s Anne-Lise Caudal and rising stars Ivanna Samu, Zethu Myeki, Cara Gorlei, Michaela Fletcher and Tara Griebenow.

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14th March 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

LET Rookie Hewson wins Investec SA Women’s Open

14 March 2020 – Alice Hewson could not have wished for a better start to launch her professional career on the Ladies European Tour.

On a warm and tranquil Saturday in the City of Cape Town, the 22-year-old rookie from Hemel Hempstead in England lifted the Investec South African Women’s Open title in her first start, coming from behind to triumph by a shot at Westlake Golf Club.

“It feels absolutely incredible and it really is a dream come true. I don’t have words, really. Growing up as a kid, all I could ever dream of was playing on the Ladies European Tour and to win in my first event is just indescribable,” said Hewson, who turned professional in September and finished fifth at LET Q-School in January.

“This has definitely happened a lot quicker than I thought it would. I was hoping to get off to a nice steady start, but this is definitely a good thing!”

Hewson lagged three strokes off the pace from the overnight leader Olivia Cowan from Germany at the start of the final day.

She sacrificed a birdie at the first hole with a bogey on the third, but she quickly clawed back the gain on the five-under-par. She entered a four-way share of the lead after nine holes and then took pole position after all three players in the final group bogeyed the 10th hole.

With a bogey of her own on the 11th, Hewson dropped back into a share of the lead, but then broke away from the pack when she holed a 20-footer for birdie on the par five 13th.

From that point until the closing hole, no-one could catch her.

What could have turned into disaster for a lesser player turned into triumph after Hewson found the trees with her tee shot on the 18th.

Her second shot hit some branches, causing the ball to drop back down into the rough, but she played a gutsy chip shot up to the green and then holed a seven foot putt for par to complete a round of 71, ending on five-under-par.

“The 18th was a highlight because I was still in trouble after my third shot, and the other highlight of my round was the long putt I sunk on 13,” said the 2019 European Ladies’ Amateur Champion. “Most of the week my putting has been very good, and my driving. I just went out there to play my own game. This golf course can play pretty tough and it’s going to give some shots back to you so I tried to keep my game super steady and make some birdies.”

When asked if she was concerned about whether the tournament should have been played, given the Coronavirus pandemic, Hewson replied: “I think it was definitely the right decision that we continued playing this week and it’s also the right decision that future tournaments have been cancelled. Everyone was already here and there is a very low risk here so it was nice to be able to play some golf, because we don’t know how long it’s going to be now before we will again.”

South Africa’s Monique Smit sealed the 2020 Investec Order of Merit title with a joint runner-up finish in the Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

South Africa’s Monique Smit recorded a career best finish on the LET when she holed a clutch putt for par at the last for a round of 71 to share second with Sweden’s Emma Nilsson.

Smit, who claimed the final card on offer at the LET Q-School in Spain in January when she edged out three players in a sudden-death play-off, not only bagged R276 000 for her joint runner-up finish, but also edged out Stacy Bregman for the R100 000 bonus that came with winning the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s Investec Order of Merit.

“Right now, this is very surreal. Standing over the final putt, I knew I had to hole it and I just felt extremely confident. That one putt earned me my travel money for the year,” said the Oubaai golfer.

“We lost mom last year and in every tournament this season, I’ve thought of her. She caddied for me in every season of the Sunshine Ladies Tour since it launched in 2014. Today, standing over that final putt, I really felt her. That putt was for my mom.”

Scotland’s Kelsey MacDonald, Manon de Roey from Belgium and Manon Gidali from France tied for fourth, while overnight leader Olivia Cowan from Germany tied for seventh.

Former Youth Olympian Kaiyuree Moodley claimed the Jackie Mercer Trophy as the leading amateur – and only amateur to make the cut – in the 2020 Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour

Former Youth Olympian Kaiyuree Moodley was the only amateur to survive the cut to 60 and ties and was the proud recipient of the Jackie Mercer Trophy as the leading amateur. The 18-year-old GolfRSA Elite Squad member and Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation carded a final round 75 to tie for 46th.

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


13th March 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Cowan takes control of Investec South African Women’s Open

13 March 2020 – Germany’s Olivia Cowan took control of the Investec South African Women’s Open on Friday, firing a second round 67 to lead on seven-under-par heading into the final round in the City of Cape Town.

The 23-year-old began the afternoon session in hot and sunny conditions on the 10th tee at Westlake Golf Club and picked up her first birdie at the par five 13th.

She then made three birdies on the bounce from the 15th and, although she gave a shot back to the field on the par-four second hole, further gains on the fourth and fifth holes kept her well clear of the chasing pack.

The fourth-year Ladies European Tour campaigner dropped another shot the ninth, but will still sleep on a three-shot cushion.

Scotland’s Kelsey MacDonald, Alice Hewson from England and Italian Lucrezia Colombotto Rosso are three strokes back in joint second.

Recent Joburg Ladies Open winner Monique Smit leads the local challenge. The Oubaai golfer carded 71 to finish a further stroke adrift and is tied for fifth with Emma Nilsson from Sweden.

Valdis Thora Jonsdottir from Iceland and Megan MacLaren from England share seventh on two-under.

A second round 73 saw three-time winner Ashleigh Buhai slip to one-over. The South African rounds out the top 10 on 143 with Maha Haddioui from Marocco, Manon de Roey from Belgium, Dane Emily Pedersen and Sweden’s Julia Engstrom.

Former Youth Olympian Kaiyuree Moodley was the only amateur to survive the cut to 60 and ties, which fell at six-over 150. The GolfRSA Elite Squad player and Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member will start the last 18 holes on five-over after rounds of 75 and 74.

Thirty-six hole leader Cowan is long overdue for a first Ladies European Tour (LET) victory.

A three-time winner on the LET Access Series in 2015, Cowan won the Order of Merit the same year to graduate to the LET. In 2019, she enjoyed a career best tie for second in the Dubai Moonlight Classic, which was one of her seven top-10 finishes from 16 starts last season.

She ended seventh on the LET Order of Merit for the second year in a row.

She made a strong start to the 2020 season in Australia, tying for 15th in the Women’s New South Wales Open and began the week in South Africa ranked 28th on the Race to Costa del Sol Order of Merit.

Cowan attributed her solid second round to great ball striking and a well-behaved putter.

“I was hitting my irons close and putting well, so I had a lot of chances, most of which I took. I’d say the best part of my game was my putting,” she said.

The German golfer also felt that the tranquil conditions over the last two days had a lot to do with the bunched leaderboard.

“The last two years here was really windy, so it’s very different this year. The course is in great shape and it’s like any other LPGA or LET tournament, so really good. This is my first time being in this position, where I am a couple of shots ahead of everyone going into the final round. I’m looking forward to tomorrow and seeing what happens.”

MacDonald was just as happy to be in contention.

“I’m very happy with my performance today. I hit a lot of greens and gave myself a lot of chances. I’m very happy going into the final round, given how I played today. The greens were a little slower in the morning, but when it started to heat up they sped up significantly. You could notice the difference and that was something I had to be mindful of during the round.”

English rookie Hewson, making her LET debut in Cape Town, was thrilled with back-to-back 70s and the chance to emulate last year’s rookie winner Diksha Dagar from India. “I’m really happy with how I played today. I putted really well, which I think is really important out here.

“I also drove the ball well. I just need to work on my irons. It was nice to get off to a good start with three birdies in a row from my second hole. It’s very exciting to be here and finally get going. This is living the dream, really. It’s a beautiful place to be. Yesterday we went to Boulders Beach to see the penguins and maybe tomorrow we will go to Table Mountain.”

Colombotto Rosso, who dug deep for a 71, made some incredible par saving putts.

“I enjoyed the round a lot. I rolled in some incredible putts, from 10 or 15 metres, which I didn’t expect and I was having a lot of fun. I’m trying to take the best out of every round. Chipping in this kikuyu grass is a bit challenging for me, so I’m really proud that I made some birdies when I needed to. I was a little angry with the bogey on 16, so it was good that I birdied 18. It was a good comeback.”

The final round tees off at 08h30 on Sunday morning from both tees.

The final putts are expected to drop around 15h00 and the 2020 champion will be crowned on the 18th green. In addition to lifting the spectacular trophy, the winner also receives a two year exemption on the LET until the end of 2021, a place in the Evian Championship and the AIG Women’s British Open and the lion’s share of the 200,000 prize fund.

Moodley will be standing next to the champion, receiving the Jackie Mercer Trophy as the leading amateur.

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

 

 

 


| Sunshine Ladies Tour

Garcia shares early lead in Investec SA Women’s Open

12 March 2020 – Nicole Garcia made the most of the tranquil conditions at Westlake Golf Club on Thursday to grab a share of the four-way tie for the lead on the opening day of the €200 000 Investec SA Women’s Open in the City of Cape Town.

The three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner offset a lone bogey with a quartet of birdies for a 69 to join Olivia Cowan from Austria, Italian Lucrezia Colombotto Rosso and Sweden’s Emma Nilsson at the summit on three-under-par.

Compatriot Ashleigh Buhai – the highest ranked player in the field at 103rd in the world rankings and a three-time champion of the event – birdied her last two holes for two-under 70 and sits just one off the pace in a six-way tie at two-under.

Joburg Ladies Open champion Monique Smit also finished in the pack on two-under.

The South African pair shares fifth with 2018 SA Women’s Masters champion Laura Fuenfstueck from Germany, Pasqualle Coffa from the Netherlands, Scotland’s Kelsey Macdonald, Alice Hewson from England, and first reserve Rachel Rossel from Switzerland, who made the most of her late call-up to fight her way into the top 10.

A birdie at the last hole will see former three-time champion Lee-Anne Pace start the second round two off the pace in joint 12th alongside 2020 Women’s New South Wales Open winner and Race to Costa Del Sol frontrunner Julia Engström from Sweden.

Garcia underwent hip surgery in early 2019 and spent most of the season on the bench.

A few weeks ago the Ebotse golfer showed glimpses of a return to form when she lifted the individual title and won the team competition in the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge.

“Having the Sunshine Ladies Tour to get back into form was brilliant,” she said. “I could gauge where my game was at, what I needed to work on and what needed attention. I was hitting the ball well and putting nicely, but the scores just wasn’t quite there. Then the win came at Serengeti and that brought a huge injection of confidence.”

Garcia was understandably delighted to get her 2020 Ladies European Tour campaign off to a promising start.

“We teed off in no wind at Westlake, which is very rare, and I had my caddie Graeme Rowan back on the bag after a year off, so I was looking forward to the round and I am really happy that I was able to get a score going.”

Garcia started on the 10th tee and racked up three birdies going out.

“I birdied the first to go four-under, but I didn’t hit a very good shot out of the bunker on the par five (fourth) and paid for it with a bogey. I short-sided myself on the left of the green, but I wasn’t too upset not making the up-and-down, though. The pin was only three or four paces from where I was aiming, so I walked off with a soft bogey, really.

“I had a few more birdie opportunities that I didn’t make, so I was really happy with the three birdies I managed to convert. I hit the ball close on a couple of holes coming home, too. It’s gratifying to see that the game is there. The putting, too. I have the right pace and line, but I just had a few too many lip-outs.

“These greens are very tricky. Just the slightest misread with the grain on the greens here will cause to miss. It’s not dropping into the cup in the centre; it kind of catches the hole on the side and then it either drops or rings the hole. Hopefully I can come to grips with it on Friday and keep the momentum going.”

Buhai clinched her 11th title on the Sunshine Ladies Tour with a commanding five-shot victory in the Jabra Ladies Classic at Glendower Golf Club. She turned two-over, but a gentle prod from her husband and caddie Dave out the LPGA Tour campaigner on the attack.

“Conditions were pretty much perfect, but I didn’t get off to a good start and I turned two-over through nine,” said the 30-year-old. “I was playing a bit defensive and Dave (husband and caddie) gave me a little pep-talk. He said we played good last week and told me to get aggressive, so I did and I made four birdies down the back nine.

“The greens were quite firm when we played them in the afternoon on Wednesday, so I was just sussing them out. Once I started trusting what I was doing, I started to attack the pins. You have to shape it a little off the tee-boxes here; draws and fades.

“I am driving it pretty well and that helps, because the course is pretty narrow and the greens are small. I’m very happy with the way I’m striking the ball, because I’ve put myself in play. It was a bit iffy on the front, but I dialled it in on the back.”

Former Youth Olympian Kaiyuree Moodley leads the amateur challenge for the Jackie Mercer Trophy after carding a two-over-par 74 to finish alongside current Investec Order of Merit leader Stacy Bregman, among others.

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