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23rd February 2019 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Lewthwaite’s long wait ends with play-off glory

22 February 2019 – Benoni golfer Leján Lewthwaite stepped up to the Sunshine Ladies Tour winner’s circle at the South African Women’s Masters with a dramatic play-off victory over young GolfRSA amateur Kajal Mistry at San Lameer Country Club on Saturday.

The pair ended three rounds tied on one-under 215, with Lewthwaite closing with a superb five-under 67 after opening efforts of 75 and 73. Randpark’s Mistry, meanwhile, signed for a one-under 71 to go with her earlier rounds of 75 and 69.

The duo crossed irons as they headed back to the short par four 18th for a sudden death play-off. The 18-year-old Mistry went first and split the fairway, while Lewthwaite found a decent lie in the rough on the right.

Serengeti’s Lewthwaite was first to hit her approach, which nested near the back of the green some 35 feet from the pin and it was advantage Mistry, who stuck her second to 12 feet.

But it would be the true masterstroke of Lewthwaite that would have the final say as she rolled a monster putt straight into the hole for a birdie three. Mistry’s makeable birdie came up short and the title duly went to Lewthwaite.

“I was a little quick off the tee and my ball went a little right,” said the Investec golfer, who became the third successive maiden winner of the SA Women’s Masters following Korea’s Carrie Park in 2017 and last year’s success by German golfer Laura Fuenfstueck.

“I hit a great second, but the pin was sitting on a little bit of a slope and the ball just keeps going. Luckily I had that exact same putt during regulation play. I thought I needed to hit it a little bit left and a little bit harder and it just went in!

“It’s a huge confidence booster. Teaching yourself to win takes time and it’s really a good thing to have in your back pocket.”

The 28-year-old Lewthwaite had been knocking on the door the last few weeks with third at the Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open at the beginning of the month, before a second place at the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am last week in George.

She’s worn the bridesmaid tag twice at San Lameer Country Club.

First in 2015, when she chased Lee-Anne Pace to the finish line in the SA Women’s Open and won the Jackie Mercer Trophy as the leading amateur and again last year, when she tied for second.

“A couple people were saying 3-2-1 this week because I was third at Irene, second at DiData… So I’m happy to complete that sequence,” Lewthwaite said.

“I always come through in my final round. That’s where it matters most. So maybe if I can just get the first round nerves out a little quicker, maybe it won’t be as difficult.”

Though it is a first win on the Sunshine Ladies Tour for Lewthwaite, she has tasted success in the paid ranks before with two play-off victories on the IGT Challenge Tour last year.

“It definitely means a lot. It’s weird because I thought I would have been crying after my first victory. I kind of set myself up last year by winning on the IGT Tour and that’s kind of taught me a lot.”

Kim Williams (75 66 76) had led for most of the day, but a disastrous triple bogey six on the par three 16th dropped her out of contention. The Centurion Golf Club member went on to tie for third alongside Scotland’s Hannah McCook (72 74 71) on one-over.

It would have been another frustrating result for Williams, who was pipped at the post last week by the fast-finishing Nobuhle Dlamini.

Lewthwaite made special mention of her performance post round and who knows, perhaps Williams will get her just rewards in next week’s SuperSport Ladies Challenge, presented by Sun International, at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club.

“I saw Kim was in the lead there. It’s the second week in a row she’s come up a bit short. I feel really bad for her. She’s a very talented player and she’ll do well in the future.”

2019 SA Women’s Masters champion Lejan Lewthwaite with GolfRSA’s Kajal Mistry, who won the Sally Little Trophy as the leading amateur at San Lameer Country Club; credit Justin Klusener.

For Mistry, though, the agony of defeat was clear for all to see, but Lewthwaite believes the youngster is destined for a long career in the game. “Kajal is a fantastic player,” said Lewthwaite. “She’s going to do so well in the future.”

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