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28th March 2019 | 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.


18th March 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Big incentive drives up Jabra Ladies Classic stakes

18 March 2019 – Current Investec Property Fund Order of Merit leader Nobuhle Dlamini will be looking over her shoulder when the inaugural Jabra Ladies Classic tees off at Glendower Golf Club on Wednesday.

Dlamini knows there is a target on her back after her lead was trimmed with a frustrating tie for 47th in the Investec South African Women’s Open last weekend, but with two events to go, the big-hitting Swazi national is determined to cement her position at her home course ahead of the season-finale Joburg Ladies Open at Soweto Country Club next week.

Dlamini returned to a happy hunting ground and was on the course at first light on Monday morning to fine-tune her game.

The Jabra Ladies Classic is the new addition to the 2019 Sunshine Ladies Tour schedule and this week’s winner will not only bank the lion’s share of the R200 000 purse, but will also join the field in the Jabra Ladies Open on the Ladies European Tour in May.

Gunning for her fifth Sunshine Ladies Tour title, Dlamini said a win would be a game-changer.

“I don’t have full status on the Ladies European Tour yet, right now, so I am on the reserve list for the Jabra Ladies Open,” explained the 2019 Dimension Data Ladies Challenge Tour champion.

“To get the spot in the Jabra Ladies Open is huge. A good performance at the Evian Golf Resort Golf Club can boost your ranking on the Ladies European Tour and that’s another step closer to full status.”

Dlamini came close to victory at Glendower two seasons ago when she lost in a play-off to four-time champion Carrie Park from South Korea and although a firm favourite this week, she expects stiff opposition from Benoni golfer Lejan Lewthwaite, who is targeting the same goal.

Lejan Lewthwaite will spearhead the field in the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s Jabra Ladies Classic at Glendower Golf Club from 20-22 March 2019; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour

The reigning SA Women’s Masters champion was hoping for another strong performance on home soil after a top-10 finish on the Ladies European Tour in Australia, but she missed the cut and was overtaken by Randpark amateur Kajal Mistry, who moved into second in the rankings with a top-30 finish at Westlake.

“Six weeks in a row took its toll and I was dead-tired, but I know I can turn it around for the last two events,” said the Investec supported player.

Dlamini leads the rankings on 1 397 points. Mistry is second on 963 points and Lewthwaite third with 940 points, but the GolfRSA Elite Squad player will miss the season-finale to defend her Nomads SA Girl’s Rose Bowl title, leaving the way clear for Lewthwaite to challenge Dlamini in the points race.

“There is a lot to play for in the last two events,” the Serengeti golfer explained.

“Victory gets you into the Jabra Ladies Open. I’m 11th on the reserve list, so that’s the first goal. The Jabra Ladies Open is also the qualifying event for the Evian Championship. The winner and the runner-up get starts in the Evian and another Major, the AIG Women’s British Open. Plus full category status on the Ladies European Tour for 2020.

“A win this week is worth 250 points, first place next week earns you 650 points. That’s the other big incentive this week. But the stakes are high and everyone wants to win.

“I’m not sure, but I think Stacy Bregman might be the only player in the field with full LET exemption. She had a great final round at Westlake to finish 12th, and she won’t cut us any slack. At least Jabra will give the spot to the next best finisher who isn’t exempt up to 20th place.”

Lewthwaite believes fellow Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Kim Williams and Scottish player Jane Turner, who won the SuperSport Ladies Challenge presented by Sun International, could pose a serious threat.

“Both of them are strong ball-strikers with incredible short-games and that’s scoring at Glendower. Good, straight tee shots and good putting. I’ve played a ton of golf here and it’s definitely one of my favourites. It’s a great test of golf and I’m looking forward to a strong finish to the last two events.”

Sweden’s Emma Westin – a three-time winner on the LET Access Series – also made a strong case for victory this week with a top-20 finish at Westlake, as did Ellie Givens from England, whose final round 71 boosted her to a tie for 36th.

Two-time LET winner Anne-Lise Caudal, Williams, former SA Women’s Open winner Tandi McCallum and big-hitting Namibian Bonita Bredenhann – also lining up this week – finished a further stroke adrift.

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


16th March 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Dagar drives to victory in Investec SA Women’s Open

16 March 2019 – Inspired by a magical chip-in on the 16th hole, Indian rookie Diksha Dagar claimed victory in the Investec South African Women’s Open, celebrating a maiden Ladies European Tour win in just her fourth professional start at Westlake Golf Club on Saturday.

The 18-year-old left-hander from New Delhi tapped in for par at the final hole for a three-under-par 69 to edge out former three-time champion Lee-Anne Pace by a stroke.

Fellow Ladies European Tour (LET) rookie Esther Henseleit of Germany and Scotland’s Michele Thomson shared third on three-under, with Lydia Hall from Wales and Scotland’s Carly Booth a further shot back in joint fifth.

For most of the final round, the tournament was Pace’s to lose as the nine-time LET champion looked in complete control in front of a vocal home crowd.

She held a three-stroke lead through 12 holes, but a surprise bogey on the par-five 13th cut her advantage to two shots. Dagar, who fired her first birdie at the par-four eighth, made her second at the short 15th to pull within a shot of Pace.

The Indian teenager’s approach at the par-five 16th landed just short of the green, but a precision chip dropped in the hole for a share of the lead.

She headed down 18 with a one stroke lead after Pace let another one slip at 17.

“I just went out today trying to play my normal game,” said the hearing impaired Dagar, who plays with a cochlear implant that helps her to hear at close-to-normal levels.

“I really didn’t expect to win, but it happened and I am very happy. I got two lucky breaks towards the end, with a long birdie putt on 15 and then the chip-in on 16. Normally I would just try to chip it close and make the par putt, but this time I had a feeling I could do it and it went in.”

Coming off a tie for fifth in last week’s Women’s New South Wales Open in Australia, Dagar got her tournament off to a nervous start with two double bogeys in the first three holes and signed for an opening round of four-over-par 76.

A flawless second round 66 propelled her into the leading group and a second consecutive bogey-free round was enough for the former World Deaf Championship winner and a silver medallist in the 2017 Summer Deaflympics to claim her breakthrough.

Victory came with a massive boost to fourth in the LET Order of Merit and the top spot in the LET Rookie of Year Race, but the teenager is keeping her feet on the ground for now. “My goal for the rest of the season is to just stay focused and take each tournament as it comes,” she said.

Investec South African Women’s Open champion Diksha Dagar from India and leading amateur Kajal Mistry with Cheryl Leicher: Head of Marketing Investec Property and Councillor Mzwahhke Nqavashe from City of Cape Town; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

Cheryl Leicher: Head of Marketing Investec Property, was thrilled to see the young starlet rise to the occasion.

“Congratulations to Diksha on claiming this year’s Investec South African Women’s Open title,” said Leicher. “For the last five years, Investec Property has proudly supported women’s golf, through the sponsorship of this LET co-sanctioned tournament, our individual sponsorships and our support of the Sunshine Ladies Tour. These powerful partnerships allow us to grow the sport of golf for women in South Africa.”

While bitterly disappointed, Pace was gracious in defeat. “Diksha played great and didn’t make a mistake the whole day,” she said.

“I knew that I had to make birdies to win and unfortunately I left one short at 16 and then missed a par putt at 17. I’m not too disappointed because I played great golf, but I made two mistakes and they cost me the tournament.”

Despite it being her best finish in her short professional career, Henseleit was left mixed emotions after a bogey at the last dropped her to third.

“At the moment I’m a bit disappointed,” she lamented. “I needed a birdie at the last and I made bogey, so that was frustrating. In time I will look back and be quite happy about finishing third. I hit so many good iron shots but the putts just didn’t drop today. It wasn’t my day.”

GolfRSA Elite Squad player Kajal Mistry lifted the Jackie Mercer Trophy as amateur winner – marking the fifth successive time that the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member won the leading amateur honours on the Sunshine Ladies Tour this season.

The 18-year-old Randpark golfer carded rounds of 73, 76 and 74. A joint 30th finish lifted Mistry to second in the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit.

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


15th March 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Rookies in pursuit of Pace at Westlake

15 March 2019 – Former champion Lee-Anne Pace took control of the Investec South African Women’s Open on Friday and opened up a two-shot lead on the chasing pack at Westlake Golf Club on Friday.

The nine-time Ladies European Tour winner mixed five birdies with a solitary bogey for a four-under-par 68 and she will start the final round in familiar territory, having previously lifted the SA Open title in 2014, 2015 and 2017.

Playing alongside Pace in the final group on Saturday will be two fearless rookies, both of whom navigated the tight, tree-lined layout with flawless performances.

Indian left-hander Diksha Dagar took route 66 to move into second on two-under with a low round of the tournament and Esther Henseleit, whose five-under 67 lifted the German to third on her own on one-under.

Pace set herself a second round goal of four-under after an even-par 72 in the windy conditions on the first day. “I really wanted to be in contention, especially here in Cape Town where I have some family and friends watching,” said Pace. “I’m so pleased I was able to achieve it.”

After struggling in strong winds on day one, the morning starters arrived to sunny, wind still conditions, but Pace was one of only a handful of players to take advantage of early the scoring opportunities.

In what should serve as an ominous warning to her pursuers, the 11-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner feels that the hard work she had put in over the off-season has given her complete control of her game. “I’m shaping the ball nicely both ways and I’m feeling like I have a lot of control on my approach shots, which is key because some of these greens are quite small,” she explained.

“I didn’t miss many shots today. I left a few putts out there and didn’t take advantage of the par fives I hit in two, so there is still room for improvement.”

Indian rookie and former World Deaf Championship winner Diksha Dagar fired a tournament low six-under-par 66 in the second round to finish within two shots of leader Lee-Anne Pace in the Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

Dagar was four-over after the first three holes in her opening round, but she settled quickly after the nervous start and signed for a 76. The 19-year-old former World Deaf Championship winner and 2017 Summer Deaflympics silver medallist showed none of the first round nerves as she went around the course in 66 strokes.

“I was on fire today,” said Dagar, who earned her Ladies European Tour card at Qualifying School last December and is making only her fifth start in the pro ranks in Cape Town.

“I only missed one green so I had a lot of birdie opportunities. I had trouble reading the greens in the first round, but I read them really well today. The grain slopes away from the mountain to the sea.

“I really attacked the flags and I hit almost every approach inside 15 feet. I’m happy that I was able to make some putts. It’s the first time that I’m playing in the leading group, so I am just going to shut out what the others are doing and play my own game.”

Rookie Esther Henseleit from Germany fired a five-under-par 67 at Westlake Golf Club to pull within three shots of Investec Investec South African Women’s Open leader Lee-Anne Pace in the second round; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

Twenty-year-old Henseleit is another exciting young talent, who turned professional with an impressive handicap of plus seven.

The German racked up birdies on two, seven, eight, 13 and 16 to put herself in contention to claim her maiden Ladies European Tour title. “I’m really happy to be where I am,” beamed the former PING Junior Solheim Cup player. “It’s only my fourth start and I can’t wait to play in the final group. I’m going to go out there and have fun.”

Former Ladies European Tour winners Lydia Hall of Wales and Astrid Vayson de Pradenne of France sit a shot behind the German at level par, alongside England’s Charlotte Thompson.

Two-time Ladies European Tour champion Carly Booth and Meghan MacLaren, who defended her Women’s New South Wales Open title in Australia last week, are within five shots of Pace.

Defending champion Ashleigh Buhai is the next best-placed South African. The three-time winner carded a level-par 72 to finish at three-over, one shot ahead of compatriot Stacy Bregman, who returned a 74.

Meanwhile GolfRSA Elite Squad player Kajal Mistry was the only amateur to make the cut to 50 and ties, which fell at 10-over.

The Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member is five over after rounds of 73 and 76. Mistry is the guaranteed winner of the Jackie Mercer Trophy for the leading amateur and she could overtake Lejan Lewthwaite for second in the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit if she finishes in the top 40 after the SA Women’s Masters champion missed the cut.

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


14th March 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Two-way tie leads at windy Westlake

14 March 2019 – The Cape southeaster played havoc with scoring in the opening round of the R2-million Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club on Thursday, with only two players in the 126-players field producing sub-par rounds.

Lina Boqvist from Sweden and Austrian Sarah Schober made the most of an early start to set an uncontested clubhouse target with rounds of one-under 71.

A level-par 72 on day one of the R2-million Investec SA Women’s Open left three-time champion Lee-Anne Pace one shot off the lead at Westlake Golf Club; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

The pair will head into the second round of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and Ladies European Tour co-sanctioned event with a slender one shot advantage over three-time champion Lee-Anne Pace from South Africa, Spain’s Silvia Banon and Sweden’s Julia Engstrom.

The afternoon field was in for particular punishment from the wind, which gusted over 50 kilometres per hour at times. Best placed among the late starters were Scotland’s Carly Booth and South African Stacy Bregman, who posted battling scores of two-over 72.

“It was really blowing out there,” exclaimed Kim Williams, a three-time former Sunshine Ladies Tour winner after a wild round that featured just three pars. The Pretoria golfer got off to a great start and held the outright lead at three-under midway. “I hit driver, 4-iron into the last hole, where we would normally be going in with a wedge.”

Williams eventually signed for a four-over 76, which was good enough for a share of 22nd.

Boqvist, who claimed a top-10 finish here last year, has started her season well and sits 18th on the Ladies European

Lina Boqvist from Sweden shares the first round lead in the R2-million Investec SA Women’s Open after an opening one-under-par 71 at Westlake Golf Club; credit Tristan Jones / LET

Tour (LET) Order of Merit.

“It’s been a long stretch away from home,” she said of a five-week spell that has taken her from her native Sweden to Abu Dhabi, across Australia and finally to Cape Town.

“I really want to finish well because I love this event. I finished strong here last year and I really want to do the same. My putting is really good right now and I feel like I can trust it, so hopefully it continues to get better through the rest of the week.”

Austria’s Schober mixed three birdies with two bogeys and managed to get into the clubhouse before the worst of the wind hit.

“Conditions were really tough out there,” she explained. “Off the tee it’s quite narrow and the holes that play into the wind can be very long.

“I think I made some really good decisions; that and some great was putting was the key to shooting 71. I had only 26 putts today. I didn’t hit many greens but I made some great up-and-downs at most of them to save par and keep the round going.”

Former top ranked South African amateur Kajal Mistry continued her fine run of form with a one-over-par 73 to grab a share of sixth.

More importantly for her, the GolfRSA Elite Squad player boosted her chances to make a run for the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit prize. Mistry currently second sits in third position, behind only Nobuhle Dlamini in the lead and less than 100 points behind Lejan Lewthwaite.

Dlamini from Swaziland, who won the sixth edition of the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge, carded 80, while SA Women’s Masters champion Lewthwaite signed for a battling 82.

Defending champion Ashleigh Buhai opened with 75, but will take comfort from the fact that she finished only four shots off the lead. The three-time champion failed to take advantage of the early start or the par fives and will need a better second round to get herself into contention for successive victories at Westlake.

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FACEBOOK – @sawomensopen
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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.


| Sunshine Ladies Tour

Xasa tees off the Investec SA Women’s Open

SA Minister of Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa hits the official opening shot of the 2019 Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club; credit Tristan Jones / LET.

14 March 2019 – South Africa’s Minister of Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa put in a surprise appearance on day one of the Investec South African Women’s Open, and hit the ceremonial tee shot to officially open the R2-million event at Westlake Golf Club on Thursday.

This year is the second successive year that the event is co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Ladies Tour and Ladies European Tour (LET).

The field of 126 represent 26 nations and among the top starters are past and current LET champions Ashleigh Buhai and Lee-Anne Pace from South Africa, English duo Florentyna Parker and Megan MacLaren and French pair Astrid Vayson de Pradenne and Camille Chevalier.

The honourable minister was in Cape Town for cabinet meetings, but made space in her busy schedule to pop in at Westlake after a phone call from women’s sport journalist Cheryl Roberts on Wednesday afternoon.

“I was in back-to-back meetings, but I noticed a missed call from Cheryl. When I called her back, she asked me if I knew about the Investec SA Women’s Open and said I really should come to Westlake and see for myself what wonderful things the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Women’s PGA of South Africa are doing in women’s golf,” said Xasa.

“Women’s sport is very close to my heart and I like to support all initiatives that grow and develop women’s sport. I immediately confirmed with Lesley Copeman from World Sports Promotions that I would attend the opening and when they asked me if I would like to hit the opening tee shot, I thought, ‘Why not’?”

The honourable minister received a quick lesson from WPGA’s Barbara Pestana, herself a two-time former winner of the SA Women’s Open, and enthusiastically struck the ceremonial tee shot.

“It took three tries, but I got some good flight with my third shot,” laughed Xasa. “It’s a lot tougher than it looks on television.

“What a wonderful event and what a fantastic opportunity to see world class golfers in action while the young rookies and amateurs cut their teeth in a highly competitive environment. What you see her today is that golf represents much more than just a game; it is a platform that brings players from across the globe together and the Sunshine Ladies Tour helps drive South Africa forward by showcasing to the rest of the world the natural beauty and talent the country has to offer.”

3. SA Minister of Sport and Recreation Tokozile Xasa with 18-year-old GolfRSA Elite Squad player and Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member Kajal Mistry (centre) and Candice Buitendach from Investec ahead of the first round of the Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club; credit Tristan Jones / LET.

The field contesting the 54-hole tournament this week also features eight amateurs, who will compete for the Jackie Mercer Trophy, awarded to the leading amateur.

GolfRSA Elite Squad member Kajal Mistry spearheads the group. Having rubbed shoulders with the professionals since the start of the Sunshine Ladies Tour season, the 18-year-old Randpark golfer has surged to second in the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit, courtesy of a top four, a top eight, a top 20 and two runner-up finishes.

“It was pretty special to take a selfie with the Minister of Sport and Recreation,” said the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member.

“That’s not something that will happen every day. It was a great honour to meet her and I think it’s really cool that she came to the tournament. We watched her hit the opening shot and hopefully the golf bug has bitten her. It would be great if she could play in next year’s pro-am with us.”

SOCIAL MEDIA INVESTEC SOUTH AFRICAN WOMEN’S OPEN
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INSTAGRAM – @sawomensopen
HASHTAG – #InvestecSAWomensOpen

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


12th March 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Lewthwaite pitching for Sunshine Ladies Tour double

12 March 2019 – Lejan Lewthwaite has her sights set on a Sunshine Ladies Tour double in the 2019 Investec South African Women’s Open, which tees off at Westlake Golf Club on Thursday.

The Benoni golfer already enjoyed a stellar start to her 2019 campaign with a play-off victory in the SA Women’s Masters and is riding a wave of confidence after a top 10 finish in her second start on the Ladies European Tour last Sunday.

Lewthwaite had been knocking on the door since the start of the sixth season with a third place finish in the Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open.

She tied for seventh with partner Nobuhle Dlamini in the Serengeti Team Championship and then chased the Swazi golfer all the way to the finish line in the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge in George the following week.

A week later, the 28-year-old Investec standout celebrated her maiden win at San Lameer and now she is relishing the prospect of doing it all over again at Westlake Golf Club.

“I’m definitely a much better golfer now than I was a year ago heading into the Investec SA Women’s Open,” said the Serengeti golfer following her tie for 10th in the Women’s New South Wales Open in Australia.

“I am handling a big stage a lot better than I was last year. Competing on the IGT Challenge Tour last year and winning twice taught me a lot on how to keep your perspective when you get into contention and how to win.

“In my previous starts on the Sunshine Ladies Tour and in Europe, I let the status of the event dictate my game and frustration got the better of me. This time, I didn’t paint the Women’s NSW Open as such a big event. I just treated as any other golf tournament and I was able to play my own game. I went into the Women’s NSW Open with a strong mind-set and that’s what I’m bringing to Cape Town this week.

“I’m looking forward to playing Westlake again. I am a lot more confident in my course management and on a tight, tree-lined layout like this, your positioning off the tee is crucial in setting up scoring opportunities. I’m looking forward to good week.”

Lewthwaite will join a host of local and international champions in the R2-million event, co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Ladies European Tour.

Defending champion Ashleigh Buhai, a 10-time winner on the local circuit and three-time Ladies European Tour champion, will be gunning for a fourth victory.

South Korea’s Carrie Park claimed her fourth Sunshine Ladies Tour title with a five-shot victory in the Cape Town Ladies Open at Royal Cape last week and Dlamini, who leads the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit, has also been in threatening form this season.

England’s Meghan MacLaren will be flying high after successfully defending her Women’s NSW Open title with a three-stroke victory on Sunday, while Christine Wolf from Austria and Valdis Thora Jonsdottir from Iceland – fourth and sixth respectively – could also be on the radar in Cape Town.

German golfer Karolin Lambert and last year’s runner-up also showed some great form with a top eight finish in the Australia last week.

Other top contenders inside the top 30 on the Ladies European Tour Order of Merit to keep an eye on include Olivia Cowan from Germany, Sweden’s Julia Engstrom, Spanish pair Noemi Jimenez Martin and Silvia Banon and the French pair of Manon Molle and Isabelle Boineau.

Several Sunshine Ladies Tour rookies have also laid down a marker this season for success in the national Open.

Jane Turner claimed a four-shot victory in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club, while fellow Scot Gabrielle Macdonald has climbed to fourth in the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit in just four starts.

Entry is free to all three rounds of the Investec SA Women’s Open and there is ample public parking.

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


8th March 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Park powers to Cape Town Ladies Open victory

CAPE TOWN, 8 March 2019 – Carrie Park turned on the style when it mattered most, making crucial birdies on the final three holes at Royal Cape Golf Club to claim her fourth Sunshine Ladies Tour victory by five strokes in the Cape Town Ladies Open on Friday.

With just five holes to play, the Korean shared top spot on a bunched leaderboard with defending champion Lee-Anne Pace on three-under.

Amateur Kajal Mistry and Finland’s Tiia Koivistra were within striking distance just one shot back.

Park reeled off birdies on the par-five 14th and 16th holes and notched further gains at the par-four 17th and 18th holes to triumph.

GolfRSA Elite Squad member Mistry and Anne-Lise Caudal from France – last year’s runner up – tied for second on two-under, with South African Tandi McCallum, Swiss golfer Caroline Rominger and Koivisto a stroke further back in joint fifth.

Park headed into the final day one shot behind Pace and Mistry, who shared the overnight lead on four-under.

“I started the round very well and was feeling good, but I lost it a little bit at the turn,” she explained. “I felt like I couldn’t get my address right and everything started leaking right.

“The 14th was the turning point for me. I had 183 metres into the wind to the flag for my second and I hit a good 3-wood there to make a birdie. That really got me going.”

With the south-easterly wind gusting up to 50 km per hour at times, Park’s four-under-par 70 in the final round was the low score of the day. With earlier rounds of 72 and 73 at the par-74 layout, she was also the only player to break par on each day this week.

Even more remarkable is that Park only arrived in the country on the eve of the tournament and stepped into the first round without the benefit of a practice round.

“I prepared really well for the tournament. When we transferred, I did exercises to stay loose and I slept really well on the flights,” she said.

“It was really important to me to play this week. I wanted to get used to the distance at sea level and the ball flight to prepare for the Investec South African Women’s Open next week. My first Sunshine Ladies Tour win was the SA Women’s Masters. I would love to have the double.

“I don’t know Westlake. I have heard that it is also tight and tree-lined and the greens are very undulating. I plan to play at least three practice rounds to prepare well for next week.”

She often jokes that she is Korean by birth, but her heart is South African.

Her father enrolled the Seoul-born Park at Southdowns College at the age of 13. She joined Graeme Francis and the GFG Academy and soon after, began representing Gauteng North Golf Union.

A former SA Amateur and SA Stroke Play champion, Park was named Womens Golf South Africa Golfer of the Year in 2013 and she held the number one ranking for more than a year.

Following her third victory in the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge last year, Park returned to Korea. She now plies her trade on the Korean LPGA Tour, having graduated to the tour courtesy of a win in the Phoenix Dream Tour in June last year.

Randpark golfer Kajal Mistry claimed the Leading Amateur honours for a fourth successive week with a joint runner-up finish in the Cape Town Ladies Open at Royal Cape Golf Club; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

Mistry, meanwhile, banked a second runner-up finish of the season, to go with the second place finish in the SA Women’s Masters and a further two top-10s.

It was another remarkable result for the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member, who remains in third spot on the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit.

She has received a sponsor’s invitation to the R2-million Investec South African Ladies Open, co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour and is relishing her fifth Sunshine Ladies Tour start.

“I can’t wait to play in my first Ladies European Tour event,” said the 18-year-old Randpark golfer.

“So far the season has exceeded my expectations. Originally my goal was to finish in the top 10 on the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit, but I think I need to reset and aim for the top three.

“I’m happy with my performance at Royal Cape. Coming second is a great result, but I was not too happy with all the fairways I missed this week. I only hit six in the final round, but my irons and short-game has been really strong. It was all a really good learning curve for next week.”

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