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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.

18th February 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Park times swansong to perfection in Dimension Data

Carrie Park of South Korea sealed a hat-trick of Sunshine Ladies Tour titles with a stunning wire-to-wire victory in the 2018 Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am on Sunday.

The 21-year-old from Seoul came into the final round with a four shot lead after rounds of 68 and 69 at George Golf Club. A 65 at the Outeniqua Course at Fancourt extended that margin to a nine shot victory over nearest challenger Stacy Bregman.

The Investec Property Fund Order of Merit leader mounted a late charge, as did Valeria Martinoli from Switzerland, but it was all too little, too late.

Two under at the turn, Park birdied the par four 13th and made four one-putts for four birdies on the bounce over the last four holes to blast the opposition away.

Celebrations at the 18th! Carrie Park’s peers celebrate her wire-to-wire victory in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am at Fancourt; credit Luke Walker/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images

“I’m really, really happy,” said an elated Park. “This is one of my favourite events and one I’ve loves since I was still amateur. In my heart I really wanted to win, because I won’t play the rest of the Sunshine Ladies Tour. I return to Korea next week, but I am leaving on a really high note.”

And it was a double celebration for Park and amateur partner Louise del Balzo, who won the Pro-Am competition by four shots on 22-under from Martinoli and partner Simona Stanton.

“We were tied through 12 holes and I thought I’d better start making some putts,” said Park. “Louise carried us on the front nine, but I was able to help her win with the four birdies to finish. I love the format and playing with the amateurs is a lot of fun. Louise and I dove-tailed really well and it’s so much fun when both players contribute. We had a lot of laughs and made a lot of great shots, so I am really happy that I could help her to victory, as well.”

The victory was the culmination of a meteoric rise for Park, who played for Gauteng North Golf Union from the age of 14.

She topped the Womens Golf South Africa Rankings before she joined the pro ranks in July 2016. In just her second start on the local circuit last year, Park celebrated a maiden victory in the South African Women’s Masters and collected her second trophy with a play-off win in the Sunshine Ladies Tour Classic, presented by Canon South Africa.

“I am very sad that I can’t defend my title next week and that I am missing the Investec South African Womens Open,” said Park. “Unfortunately I have a schedule conflict with the Korean LPGA Tour, so I have to go home.

“I love every minute that I play on the Sunshine Ladies Tour. I have learned many lessons, because this is a great tour for young professionals and for the amateurs. Playing with Lee-Anne and Stacy taught me to play my own game and to shut out everything my playing partners are doing. I was well-prepared when I started playing the second tier of the Korean LPGA Tour and it was thanks to the lessons I learned here on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.”

Reigning Investec Property Fund Order of Merit leader Bregman has a frustrating start, but warmed up the short stick to rack up four birdies over the last nine holes for a 70 and second on five-under.

Martinoli offset four early bogeys with a trio of gains, but a late bogey at the par four 16th for a 72 saw the Swiss golfer slip to third on two-under.

Defending champion Nicole Garcia bogeyed 13 after 12 straight pars. She dropped another shot at 15, but rallied with birdies at 15 and 18 for a 72 to finish in fourth on level-par. Three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Kim Williams closed out the top five on one-over with a final round 69.

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

17th February 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Park poised to pounce in George

Carrie Park remains on course for a wire-to-wire victory in the Sunshine Ladies Tour Dimension Data Pro-Am after maintaining her overnight lead with a flawless 68 in Saturday’s second round at George Golf Club.

The 21-year-old South Korean will chase the lion’s share of the R500 000 purse at the Outeniqua Course at Fancourt with a two shot cushion on seven-under-par 137.

Park produced four birdies as her main rivals – former champion Stacy Bregman and defending champion Nicole Garcia – unravelled in the windy conditions.

One off the pace and joint second with Garcia, Bregman kept in touch, but a three-putt bogey at the final hole for a 71 saw the five-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner slip to third on three-under. Garcia made a fine start with back-to-back birdies, but she dropped three shots around the turn. Another drop at the 18th for a disappointing two-over 74 will see the Ebotse golfer start the last round in joint fifth on even-par with fellow South African Lora Assad, who returned a 71.

Swiss golfer Valeria Martinoli came to closest to catching Park.

The 25-year-old – off in the final group off the first – fired two birdies on the front nine and she moved to five-under with further gains at 11 and 15. However, successive bogeys at the two closing holes put paid to her challenge and she finished in third on three-under with a round of 69.

Park might be playing under the South Korean flag, but she is a household name in South Africa with a strong amateur track record that includes the titles of the Sanlam SA Amateur and Stroke Play Championships.

In her second pro start on the Sunshine Ladies Tour last year, Park rubber-stamped her status as a future world beater when she beat the likes of Garcia, Lee-Anne Pace, Ashleigh Buhai and English golfer Kiran Matharu for her maiden win in the South African Women’s Masters. Just a few weeks later, she defeated Nobuhle Dlamini in a play-off for a second title in the Sunshine Ladies Tour Classic, presented by Canon, at Glendower Golf Club.

Having campaigned on the Korean LPGA Tour for the last nine months, Park has brought a bounty of confidence the Sunshine Ladies Tour and that self-assurance, combined with lethal long irons and a hot putter, has taken her to the top of the pile in George.

“I had eight straight pars and only got my first birdie at the ninth, but it gave me good momentum for the back nine,” said the petite Park. “The course played very different to the first day, because the wind blew into us and it was gusting a lot.

“I hit my long and short irons really well and I made a lot of putts, but it wasn’t easy to score on the front nine with the wind into us, I birdied both par fives (11 and 14) and a holed another putt for birdie at 12. I had a chance at 15, but left it short and I hit a very long putt at 16 to give to save par, so it was that kind of round. A little up-and-down. I’m pleased that I kept it going and I’ve given myself a good chance for the win.”

Bregman was one of the favourite starters this week.

She won the Canon Tshwane Ladies Open and leads the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit after a tie for second in the Joburg Ladies Open and a top five finish in the Cape Town Ladies Open. The Country Club Johannesburg golfer was ready to forget the second round.

“It was a struggle, but it’s by no means over,” said the 31-year-old.

“Four shots is a lot, but the Outeniqua suits me better and I’ve always found it an easier scoring course. I have a lot of positive memories from my victory at the Outeniqua and if I can make a fast start, we’ll have a fight down the back nine.”

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

16th February 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Park has Bregman, Garcia in pursuit at Dimension Data

It’s her all-time favourite golf course and it showed as Carrie Park overcame a shaky start at George Golf Club to claim the first round lead in the Sunshine Ladies Tour Dimension Data Challenge on Friday.

The South Korean took the sting out of a double bogey at the opening hole with a birdie at the second and racked up four further gains to set the early clubhouse lead with a three-under-par 69.

The early starter’s score went unmatched as defending champion Nicole Garcia, 2015 champion Stacy Bregman, Nicole Bekker and Swiss golfer Valeria Martinoli all came up a shot shy of her target.

“This is my last event before I have to return to Korea because the rest of the schedule conflicts with the Korean LPGA Tour, and I’m just where I want to be,” said Park.

“I really, really love George and this golf course. It’s been my favourite since I came out to South Africa eight years ago and I played a lot of amateur golf here. I’ve always wanted to win the Dimension Data event, because it’s one of the best tournaments on our schedule. It’s a lot of fun to play with the amateurs and there is such a great atmosphere at this tournament with the men and the women playing together.”

The reigning SA Women’s Masters champion was pleased with her comeback after a dreadful start.

“It was not the start I expected, so I was so relieved when I made a birdie at two,” said Park. “It got back on track and I birdied nine to get back to level. I birdied 10 and 11, but it’s not an easy scoring course. It’s very tight, so you have to make the par fives count. I made one more birdie at 16 and then I just hoped that I had done enough.”

Garcia got it to three under at the turn, but gave herself a lot of hard graft on the back nine with a double bogey at 10.

“I had a three-putt at the third for bogey, but I managed to cancel it and then we had quite a long wait at the turn,” said Garcia. “I just lost focus in the 10 minute wait. I got a flier out of the rough and short-sided myself and I didn’t hit a good shot and made a quick double.

“I struggled to get it back; made birdies at 11 and 14 but dropped a shot at 12. I wanted to be close to the top, so I’m pretty happy that I’ve put myself in a strong position with 36 holes to play.”

In-form Bregman won the season-opening Canon Ladies Tshwane Open and leads the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit after a tie for second in the Joburg Ladies Open and a top four finish in Cape Town. She dropped two shots in her outward loop but made up for it with birdies 14 and 16.

“I was going around steadily and then at the eighth, my approach hit something on the green and almost ricochet out of bounds,” said Bregman. “I nearly wrapped my pitching wedge around a tree at the last hole, but it came off and I made a great par. A bit of an up-and-down day, but I’m in a strong position. It was a good start.”

Jamila Jaxaliyeva – the first Kazakhstani to compete on the Sunshine Ladies Tour – moved into sixth place after she cancelled a quartet of bogeys with birdies at four, five, seven and 15.

She is one shot clear of a group of eight players that include 2017 Canon Ladies Tshwane Open champion Kiran Matharu from England, former South African Women’s Open winner Tandi McCallum and Ladies European Tour winner Anne-Lise Caudal from France, who lost the Cape Town Ladies Open in a play-off to Lee-Anne Pace last week.

Sarah Bouch from Ekurhuleni, Kingswood talent Zane Naude and Lindi Coetzee from Gauteng North lead the amateur chase on two-over 74. The trio share 16th place with Camilla Hedberg from Spain, England’s Lauren Taylor, South Africans Kim Williams and Francesca Cuturi, Norwegian Mariell Bruun and  Clara Pietri from Switzerland.

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

17th January 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Canon SA bolsters Sunshine Ladies Tour

Canon South Africa has bolstered its support for the Sunshine Ladies Tour as the title sponsor of the season opening Canon Ladies Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club from 23-25 January.

“We are thrilled to help bring to fruition the fifth season of the prestigious Sunshine Ladies Tour and contribute to the sustainability of women’s golf in South Africa,” said Dana Eitzen, Corporate and Marketing Communications Executive from Canon South Africa.

“The Sunshine Ladies Tour has grown tremendously since 2014 to become the country’s most illustrious women’s golf circuit, attracting a high calibre of talent from South Africa and abroad.

“It is heartening to see the tremendous and growing enthusiasm for women’s golf in South Africa. We feel privileged to be part of it once again.”

Canon South Africa first became associated with the Sunshine Ladies Tour, sponsored by Canon, in 2017, but the company has a proud legacy of supporting South African golf. Canon South Africa was the headline sponsor of the Canon South Africa Disabled Golf Open in 2017 and will continue to support Africa’s premier disabled golf championship in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

Canon South Africa also sponsors the South African Disabled Golf Association’s (SADGA) First Swing Program, a development programme for children with disabilities.

The Sunshine Ladies Tour was launched to sustain the future of playing professionals in South Africa and the continued growth of women’s golf in the region.

The first season featured eight events with prize money of just over R1-million. By 2017, the total bounty was just short of R4-million, with the top ten ranked professionals vying for a R1-million bonus pool. This year, thanks to continued backing of loyal sponsors, there is an unprecedented prize pool of nearly R4.5-million, as well as a R100 000 incentive prize for the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit winner.

Aside from these financial incentives, the Sunshine Ladies Tour offers female golfers the opportunity to compete against some of the very best in the world in world-class tournaments right here, on home soil.

In 2017, the Sunshine Ladies Tour nearly 50 international players, triple the number of foreigners who competed in 2016, and around 70 top South African female golfers campaigned on the local circuit.

Sunshine Tour Chief Executive Selwyn Nathan says the growing interest from players and support from sponsors indicates that women’s golf in South Africa is healthy and thriving.

“The Sunshine Ladies Tour has grown tremendously over the years to become a prominent highlight on the annual golf calendar and Canon South Africa is delighted to help women’s golf go from strength to strength”

The 2018 Sunshine Ladies Tour will feature seven events, starting with the Canon Ladies Tshwane Open.

South Africa’s top golf exports Lee-Anne Pace, Ashleigh Buhai, Stacy Bregman and Nicole Garcia will be chasing the lion’s share of the R400 000 purse alongside South Korea’s Carrie Park, who won the Sunshine Ladies Tour Classic sponsored by Canon, 2016 Ladies Tshwane Open winner Kiran Matharu from England, and European Tour Ladies champion Anne-Lise Caudall from France at Pretoria Country Club.

Also look out for Swazi powerhouse Nobuhle Dlamini, and two of South Africa’s former top ranked amateurs, Chiara Contomathios and Texas State University graduate Lora Assad, in the season-opener from 23-25 January.