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4th February 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Von Ruben hunts Sun City repeat

2014SAWO_TandiCunningham2_SLTTandi von Ruben hopes to relive the magical moments of a career changing victory in her title defence at the Sun International Ladies Challenge at Sun City next week.

The petite Randpark professional heads a strong field that includes Ladies European Tour campaigner Stacy Bregman, two-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion Monique Smit and 2015 LET Q-School graduate Nicole Garcia in the R100,000 event at Lost City from 9-10 February.

Von Ruben had taken up a teaching position at the Martin Whitcher Golf School at Randpark Golf Club in 2013 after being forced to throw in the towel in Europe.

However, the victory 12 months ago broke a five-year title drought for the former South Africa Women’s Open champion and re-ignited her career.

Von Ruben defeated amateur Madga Kruger at the first extra hole of a sudden-death play-off after both players tied on one-under-par 143 in regulation play. She notched a further six top five finishes in the Chase to the Investec Cup to qualify for the Investec Cup for Ladies.

A third place finish in the season-finale at Lost City, and fifth in the Zambia Ladies Open took her to third in the final Order of Merit.

“I earned almost R75,000 in three months,” Von Ruben said. “It sounds like a drop in the bucket, but let me tell you, it goes a long way at home. Having local events has definitely given all of us players something to work hard for again.

“The last event I competed in on the Ladies European Tour was in Czech Republic. I finished in the top 25 and earned around €2,400, but after taxes, levies and expenses for the week, I barely cleared R6,000. It wasn’t near enough to get me to the next event, let alone pay the insurance on my car.

“That’s when I decided to pack it in and to teach at home. So, you can imagine how exciting it was when the Sunshine Ladies Tour launched last year.

“It’s so fantastic to compete again and this year our circuit is even bigger, with more prize money and incentives to play for. Of course I’d love to go back to Europe at some stage, but it’s absolutely brilliant to have our own Tour and to keep competitive at home.”

Von Ruben intends to play the full schedule, including the new Cape Town Ladies Open and the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am.

“The prize money increase for the Dimension Data Pro-Am is a huge incentive to travel to George and I am playing everything else, because I want to make the final field for the Investec Cup for Ladies again.

“I hope to get off to a fast start at Lost City and build from there. Investec has really upped the ante in the Chase to the Investec Cup with the bonus pool of R600,000, so we have it all to play for this year.”

In addition to the country’s top ranked professionals, a large group of international contenders will also be vying for position in the season-opener. Rebecca Hudson leads a group of six English players, including Lauren Taylor, Lucy Williams, Anna Scott, Charlotte Ellis and Kirsty Fisher, while Eva Steinberger from Austria, Swiss player Hermoine Fitzgerald, Nobuhle Dlamini from Swaziland, Sweden’s Nora Kagonvera and Bonita Bredenhann from Namibia will also line up at the Gary Player designed championship layout.

Top ranked Kaleigh Telfer and Shawnelle de Lange will lead the amateur challenge at Sun City.

PHOTO – 2014 Sun International Ladies Challenge champion Tandi von Ruben; credit Justin Klusener.