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22nd October 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

SA quartet primed for Venice test

BertineStrauss_Action2_SLTSouth Africa’s Bertine Strauss will join three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion Stacy Bregman, Ladies European Tour winner Connie Chen and Ulrika van Niekerk in the LPGA Stage II Qualifier, which tees off at the Plantation Golf and Country Club in Venice, Florida today.

Strauss carded rounds of 67-67-70-70 to claim medalist honors by a stroke in the Stage 1 Qualifier at Mission Hills Country Club in August.

The Texas University graduate stayed competitive on the IGT Pro Tour in South Africa during the break, while Bregman and Chen competed on the Ladies European Tour and Van Niekerk warmed up on the Symetra Tour.

Hoping to join compatriots Lee-Anne Pace, Paula Reto and Ashleigh Simon on the LPGA Tour next year, the South African quartet must finish in the top 80 and ties this week to qualify for the Final Stage Qualifier at the LPGA International Golf Course from 2-6 December.

“Winning the Stage 1 Qualifier was a really good confidence builder for me,” Strauss said after her wire-to-wire victory in California.

“I shot the lowest four-day total of my career to win and that gave me the confidence to know I am capable. Playing events on the IGT Tour kept my game sharp and it presented a really good challenge.

“Obviously I hope to make the Final Stage Qualifier, but everyone who completes 72 holes this week will earn membership for the 2016 Symetra Tour. That is the step in the right direction.”

Players that finish in the top-20 at the Final Stage Qualifier will receive category 12 status on the LPGA Tour, while players that finish 21 through 45 will receive category 17 (conditional) status.

South Africa’s Nicole Garcia and Monique Smit will join the Hero Women’s Indian Open action at the newly opened ‘Black Knight’ Course, designed by Gary Player, at the DLF Golf and Country Club in India.

Defending champion Gwladys Nocera from France will be hunting an Indian triple crown in the Ladies European Tour event, while the two Sunshine Ladies Tour champions will be looking to gain some ground on the LET Order of Merit before the season-ending finale in Dubai.

Garcia is currently ranked 38th and has secured her playing privileges for next year, but Smit needs a solid performance in the last two events to get off the 142 mark and break into the top 100 to keep her card.

Meanwhile double Investec Cup for Ladies champion Lee-Anne Pace opened with a three-over-par 75 in the LPGA Tour’ Fubon LPGA Taiwan Championship at the Miramar Resort & Country Club.

The LPGA winner lags nine shots behind first round leader Eun-Hee. The 29-year-old South Korean birdied four of her last five holes in windy conditions to take the lead after 18 holes for the first time since the 2013 Mobile Bay LPGA Classic.

PHOTO – Bertine Strauss; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.