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23rd May 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Top 10 for Alexander in Aramco Series Florida

22 May 2023 – Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Casandra Alexander carded her second successive three-over-par 75 on Sunday to finish in a share of 10th in the Ladies European Tour’s Aramco Team Series-Florida at Trump International in West Palm Beach.

Alexander overcame two double-bogeys on the front nine on her way to her final-round score, also making four birdies and a bogey in a roller-coaster start to the day. She had two more bogeys on the homeward nine as she moved to four-over-par for the tournament.

In the end, she was six shots behind the winner, Carlota Ciganda of Spain, who closed with a one-over 73 to hold off Klara Davidson Spilkova of the Czech Republic by one.

Lee-Anne Pace also had a closing 75, and she finished in a share of 28th on seven-over-par. Nicole Garcia had her second successive 78 to finish, and she was on 14-over in a share of 58th.

Written by Mike Green |

29th April 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Play-off in Standard Bank Ladies Open gives Bregman long-awaited win

JOHANNESBURG, 29 April 2023 – Stacy Bregman sank a curling 20-footer for birdie on the first play-off hole on Saturday to celebrate her first win in over five years as she took the inaugural Standard Bank Ladies Open at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington’s West Course.

Bregman narrowly missed a birdie putt to win it from Lee-Anne Pace from a nearly identical position in regulation play, but it was a perfectly judged effort in the play-off as she beat Pace to break a victory drought which had lasted five years and three months.

“I’m ecstatic,” she said. “It’s been a while, and I’ve had a couple of tough years, and that makes this really special.”

The play-off happened when Pace pulled off a trademark birdie-birdie finish in regulation play to close out a final round of three-under-par 69. Bregman had to fight off the nerves after holding the 36-hole lead. She made bogeys on the fourth and again, crucially, on the 13th, as she signed for a closing level-par 72.

“I had said to Neal Herman, my caddie, that we were just going to go out there and have a bit of fun,” said Bregman. “That’s because I haven’t been the best on the golf course attitude-wise. I just tried to change my attitude a bit, which has obviously helped. Everyone has said for a long time that I need to do that, and I think it eventually clicked.

“I also just backed myself a little bit more than I have been. Sometimes when you’re struggling, you forget that you can play this game. I know I can, and I proved it to myself this weekend. I came out with the victory and I’m very proud of myself.”

It wasn’t just that personal pressure and the knowledge that Pace was in pursuit that she had to deal with.

Rookie Kiera Floyd put up a doughty challenge and her power off the tee putting her in positions that gave her plenty of opportunities. She got it to five-under through 11 holes, and, with enough holes ahead of her, including the par-five 18th, she had every right to expect to push for a win.

But a bogey on 12, and pressing just a little too hard, left her one-stroke out of the play-off in third place on four-under. Bonita Bredenhann from Namibia and Cara Gorlei finished a further stroke back in joint fourth.

For Bregman, all the doubts about choices made and missed putts in that final round were dispelled as her putt went in on the play-off hole, and Pace’s narrowly missed. “It just shows that my game is in good shape,” she said. “I held up under pressure there, and to make a birdie on the play-off hole shows that I’ve still got it. I wasn’t thinking much standing over the putt, actually. I just stuck to my processes. You can’t really think of the outcome. I just tried to read it as best I could, put the best speed on it, and let nature take its course. In the end, it worked in my favour.”

Bregman was really pleased with the opportunity Standard Bank presented with the new tournament on the Sunshine Ladies Tour schedule. “Without sponsors like Standard Bank, women’s golf in South Africa wouldn’t be where it is today,” she said. “There are so many up-and-coming amateurs, young pros that have been given a real chance to compete when they didn’t have anything outside the six tournaments at the beginning of the year. I think you’re going to see the level of women’s golf in South Africa really rise.”

Reigning SA Women’s Amateur Stroke Play champion Samantha Whateley took the amateur honours on four-over-par 220. The Country Club Johannesburg golfer finished in a tie for 11th with Lora Assad after posting rounds of 75, 71 and 74.

SA Women’s Amateur Championship finalist Ellandri van Heerden, who plays out of Bloemfontein Golf Club, was next best. Rounds of 74, 75 and 74 saw the 15-year-old finish in 16th place on her own on a score of seven-over 223.

28th April 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Bogey-free Bregman leads Standard Bank Ladies Open

JOHANNESBURG, 28 April 2023 – Stacy Bregman didn’t drop a shot on Friday on her way to a four-under-par 68 in the second round of the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s R1.1-million Standard Bank Ladies Open at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington’s West Course.

She started her second round steadily from the 10th, picking up just a single birdie on her front nine on the par-five 11th, but she got going properly on her back nine as she picked up birdies on four, seven and nine. She reached five-under for the tournament, giving her a one-stroke lead over first-round leader Cara Gorlei heading into Saturday’s final round.

“I’m very happy. It’s good to have a bogey-free round,” said Bregman. “I’ve been doing a lot of good work with my coach, John Dixon, and it’s slowly starting to take shape.”

Her four-under-par was the best score of the day, with the next-best performance coming from Nadia van der Westhuizen, whose three-under-par 69 lifted her to two-under for the tournament and a share of fifth with Lee-Anne Pace. They were one shot back from rookie Kiera Floyd and veteran Tandi McCallum, who shared third on three-under after rounds of two-under and one-over respectively.

For Bregman, it was her work on the greens on the revamped course which led to her good score.

“I putted really well today,” she said. “I felt I rolled it really well. The greens haven’t been perfect, because they are still so new. But I also hit it really well, and I converted putts when I needed to.”

Bregman is a five-time winner on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, including three wins in 2015. Her last win on the circuit came in 2018 in the Canon Tshwane Ladies Open, so a performance like her 68 was very encouraging. “It was one of those rounds where it felt easy,” she said. “It wasn’t really a grind which was quite nice for a change. I felt great for it to feel as if it was just coming naturally. I felt comfortable out there today.”

Gorlei who led the first round at five-under struggled with five bogeys on her card in the second round, but she was able to limit the damage with four birdies and stay in the fray, just one back.

Bregman is well aware of the challenge which lies ahead of her should she wish to step back into the winner’s circle. “Going into the final round, I’ve just got to carry on doing the same processes,” she said. “I can’t get ahead of myself, and that should be enough. It has been a while since I won, and there has been so much progress that a lot of people don’t see unfortunately. But things have been so close, so it would be really cool tomorrow to pull it off.”

Reigning SA Women’s Stroke Play champion Sam Whateley set the pace in the amateur challenge.

The 18-year-old Country Club Johannesburg junior fired a one-under 71 to finish on two-under in a tie for 10th with Brittney-Fay Berger, Kelsey Nicholas and Casandra Alexander, who won the Jabra Ladies Classic and the SuperSport Ladies Challenge earlier this season. SA Women’s Amateur finalist Ellandri van Heerden is two strokes further back.

Tune in to SuperSport channel 213 from 09h00 for live coverage of the final round.

27th April 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Off-season work helps Gorlei to lead in Standard Bank Ladies Open

JOHANNESBURG, 27 April 2023 – Cara Gorlei took advantage of work she has done in a short off season to card a five-under-par 67 on Thursday in the opening round of the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s R1.1-million Standard Bank Ladies Open at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington’s revamped West Course.

Gorlei made six birdies and dropped just a single shot as she took a one-stroke lead over former SA Women’s Open Tandi McCallum.

Big-hitting Bonita Bredenhann of Namibia is a further two shots back in a share of third on two-under-par with a trio of former Sunshine Ladies Tour champions including Lee-Anne Pace, Nicole Garcia and Casandra Alexander, already a two-time winner this season.

“We’ve had quite a break since the Investec South African Women’s Open in March, and to come back with a round like this just shows what I’ve been doing in this little off season has been working,” said Gorlei.

“It’s incredible to have the addition of this event, something like this stature, after the summer wrapped and we’re really thankful to Standard Bank for putting this together. It’s a really cool event and I hope that we can keep it up for the next couple of years.”

For Gorlei, the round came together around some changes she made at each end of her game, from the driver off the tee to the putter on the green.

“We’ve worked hard on being able to use my driver,” she said. “It sounds strange, but I used to pretty much play with just 13 clubs in my bag because I couldn’t get my driver right. So, we kind of fiddled with shafts and stuff and we found a match. I hit a lot more fairways and I am able to try and be more consistent.

“I also changed my conventional putting grip to a claw grip, and the ball has just been coming out of the middle of the putter so much better. I putted well today.”

The Milnerton golfer started her round with a birdie on the first and made two more ahead of the turn on the seventh and ninth. With gains on the 11th and 13th, a really low round looked possible, but she dropped a shot on the 15th. “I hit a really bad tee ball on eight with my three-wood, flared it out right and made a good save,” she said. “I did the same thing on 15. Found my ball, but I was well in the bush and I punched it out. I actually hit a good approach, but my par-putt just lipped out. I did well to come out of there with a five.”

She followed that dropped shot with pars on 16 and 17 and then she picked up a final birdie on the last hole.

Behind the players in third, rookie Kiera Floyd and five-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion Stacy Bregman were on one-under in a share of seventh, with local favourite Kelsey Nicholas on level-par in ninth.

Driving women’s golf development in South Africa is a primary objective of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Standard Bank Ladies Open, and no less than seven amateurs took advantage of the opportunity to build experience playing alongside the professionals this week.

Free State junior Ellandri van Heerden was impressive in her first Sunshine Ladies Tour start.

The 2023 SA Women’s Amateur finalist opened with a two-over 74 to grab a share of 13th with rookie Bronwyn Doeg and Francesca Cuturi,.

She is one shot better than reigning SA Women’s Stroke Play champion Sam Whateley from Central Gauteng, who tied for 16th with Zethu Myeki, Lenanda van der Watt and Brittney-Fay Berger.

Mpumalanga’s Nicola Schoeman signed for 77, Cara Ford shot 78, and Zane Kleynhans from Gauteng North and Charlotte Millard from Central Gauteng posted a pair of 79s. The youngest campaigner this week, 13-year-old Lourenda Steyn from Gauteng North, carded 93.

The 54-hole event wraps up on Saturday, with live coverage of the final round televised on SuperSport channel 213 between 09h00 and 13h30.

26th April 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Standard Bank drives womens golf development with Sunshine Ladies Tour event

Johannesburg, 26 April 2023 – As part of its commitment to driving the development of women’s golf, Standard Bank has joined forces with the Sunshine Ladies Tour to add a new event to the 2023 schedule: the Standard Bank Ladies Open, which will be played at Royal Johannesburg & Kensington on the West Course from April 27 to 29.

Headlined by the 14-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner and 11-time Ladies European Tour winner, Lee-Anne Pace, as well as the winner of two tournaments on this year’s Sunshine Ladies Tour, Casandra Alexander, the 54-hole Standard Bank Ladies Open is a welcome addition as Africa’s leading women’s professional circuit celebrates its 10th season in 2023.

“The addition of the Standard Bank Ladies Open extends what has already been a successful 10th season of the Sunshine Ladies Tour. With another competitive event, the season extends beyond March, thereby strengthening preparation for the Ladies European Tour,” said Sanah Gumede, Head: Wealth and Investment, Standard Bank SA.

“At Standard Bank, guided by our firm belief in the potential of Africa, we continue to take bold steps that enable Africa’s people to unleash their potential. This investment is yet another practical expression of our commitment to unlocking potential in women’s professional golf. Such initiatives continue to drive global momentum of women’s sport and secure South Africa’s rightful place in the arena.”

Gumede adds that Standard Bank’s partnership with the Sunshine Ladies Tour goes beyond just monetary investment, “it demonstrates our investment in equality and meaningful change within the sporting arena”.

In recognition of the fundamental role that sport plays in driving social and economic development, Standard Bank has supported various sporting initiatives over the years aimed at growing sports in the country, at grassroots, amateur and professional levels.

The new event – boasting prize money of R1.1 million – extends the 2023 schedule, giving South Africa’s local professionals, as well as those who ply their trade on the Ladies European Tour, an extra opportunity at home as the Sunshine Ladies Tour grows from its solid base.

In addition to the presence of Pace and Alexander, seasoned veterans and winners like Nicole Garcia, Stacy Bregman and Tandi McCallum will make the tournament a mouth-watering prospect when they tee it up alongside exciting rookies Kiera Floyd and Gabi Venter, young professionals Zethu Myeki and Cara Gorlei and a group of the country’s top-ranked amateurs.

“It is vital for the expansion of the Sunshine Ladies Tour that partners like Standard Bank join us as we work on creating more playing opportunities for our women professionals,” said Sunshine Tour Commissioner Thomas Abt. “Without the support of industry giants like Standard Bank, growing the Sunshine Ladies Tour beyond the six events at the start of the season would be so much more difficult to achieve. We are grateful for all they bring to the table. This is an important step in the growth of the Tour, and we believe it’s the first of many such steps.”

Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club has hosted several events since the Sunshine Ladies Tour launched in 2014, and the revamped West Course promises a good test for the field.

“On behalf of the board, members and staff, it gives us great pleasure to host the Standard Bank Ladies Open on our ‘new’ West Course,” said Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club CEO Christopher Bentley. “During our 131 years of its existence, Royal has played an integral role in the development of golf in our country, and we are proud to be at the forefront once again in supporting the Sunshine Ladies Tour.

“The Club is preparing to ensure conditions of play provide a fair test, so that good golf will be rewarded with good scores and great memories. We look forward to welcoming the players, officials and all golf enthusiasts to another memorable event”

The 54-hole tournament will be preceded by a pro-am at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington West on April 26 and the final round will be broadcast live on SuperSport Channel 213 from 9 am to 1:30 pm on Saturday April 29.

21st March 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Garcia breaks into World Top 200

21 March 2022 – South Africa’s Nicole Garcia’s good performance in the Ladies European Tour’s Aramco Team Series-Singapore last week has seen her move inside the world’s top 200 in the latest Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.

Garcia led for two of the three rounds, and battled hard for her eventual share of 11th, and that gave her a nine-place boost to 192nd. The resulting nine-spot boost sees the Sunshine Ladies Tour winner join Ashleigh Buhai, Paula Reto and Lee-Anne Pace inside the world’s top 200, joining Lee-Anne Pace, Paula Reto and Ashleigh Buhai.

The big climber inside South Africa’s top 10 was rookie Kaleigh Telfer – again – who was up 48 places to 522nd this week after her 613-place jump last week. She leapfrogged Stacy Bregman to become the sixth-best South African player according to the rankings.

Casandra Alexander moved up to 261st and remains number five on the list of South Africa’s top 10.

Buhai was up one place to 15th despite not playing, and ahead of the resumption of the LPGA Tour season at the LPGA Drive On Championship this week.

Reto was up two to 51st, and she too will play in Arizona this week.

Ashleigh Buhai 15 (up 1)
Paula Reto 51 (up 2)
Lee-Anne Pace 149 (up 1)
Nicole Garcia 192 (up 9)
Casandra Alexander 261 (up 5)
Kaleigh Telfer 522 (up 48)
Stacy Bregman 532 (down 10)
Kiera Floyd 654 (down 5)
Nadia van der Westhuizen 655 (down 2)
Lejan Lewthwaite 818 (down 7)

SOURCE: Mike Green |

19th March 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

South Africans shine in Sunshine Ladies Tour’s season yet

19 March 2023 – While England’s Lily May Humphreys won the 2023 Investec Order of Merit in the 10th season of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, three South Africans finished in the top five, underscoring the importance of the burgeoning circuit for local players.

Humphreys played all six tournaments, won one, had four other top 10s, and her worst finish was in the Investec South African Women’s Open Championship at Steenberg Golf Club when she shared 24th.

South Africa’s Casandra Alexander played four, won two – the SuperSport Ladies Challenge and Jabra Ladies Classic – and a share of seventh at Steenberg saw her finish second in the rankings, within striking distance of Humphreys at the end.

The other South Africans who rounded out the top five were Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie Kaleigh Telfer, who had three top-10s as she successfully mixed it up with the best players from Europe, and veteran Lee-Anne Pace, who did everything but win with four top-10s.

In a nice little bit of symmetry, the two other South Africans inside the top 10 of the Order of Merit were rookie Kiera Floyd in ninth with two top-10s, and the more experienced Nicole Garcia in 10th place, who also had two top-10s.

“It’s pretty cool to win the Investec Order of Merit,” said Humphreys. “I’m pretty happy about it. It’s been as good as I’ve played. It’s been a lot of golf, a lot of different golf courses, and different weather pretty much every week. I’ve really enjoyed it out here.

“I ran out of steam a little towards the end. It wasn’t my best golf over the last few days at Steenberg, but I’ll just reset and get ready for what lies ahead. I’ll definitely come back and play these events again. I’ll have to see how the schedule looks because I’m a winner now. I’ll have a full schedule on the Ladies European Tour, which is pretty exciting.”

And this is exactly the pathway which makes the Sunshine Ladies Tour such an important route for budding professionals.

Humphreys got her win in the Joburg Open, co-sanctioned between Africa’s premier women’s professional circuit and the Ladies European Tour. It was the fifth event of the 10th season and she had played her way into a position to win and leapfrog her way into the big time.

And while it was AIG Women’s Open champion Ashleigh Buhai who won the other co-sanctioned tournament, Telfer was able to convert her top-five finish in the Investec South African Women’s Open into a start on the main Ladies European Tour circuit with a place in the Aramco Team Series-Singapore the following week.

That is a stepping stone which could be decisive in her budding professional career.

Buhai talked about the importance of the local tour ahead of her victory at Steenberg: “Obviously it’s fantastic to see how it’s grown, how the sponsors are starting to support women’s golf in South Africa. And you can see it in the trends in women’s golf around the world. All prize purses are starting to increase.

“I think it’s so important to have these events for the local girls to be able to compete in, so they play on better courses, with a stricter set up that compares well with the international circuits, and in stronger fields so that they know when they’re ready to take that next step and where they really need to be.

“With six events on the tour now, I think there’s space for growth. I think if we could get it to double figures at least would be great. And also not just to have the circuit from February through April, but to extend it. They need to play all year-round to prepare better for the next level. Maybe two a month at least. We understand that the purses might not be what it is in these big events, but it’s more just about being able to play, getting that game time.

“It doesn’t matter how much money you’re playing for, or how big or small the tournament is. When you’re in that moment, it doesn’t matter. It’s the same pressure of you trying to win a golf tournament.”

The groundwork for growth has been laid. The women played for R1.075-million 10 years ago, and for over R16-million this year on the Sunshine Ladies Tour. The six tournaments are all big in their own right, and the way forward is clear. Roll on 2024!

| Sunshine Ladies Tour

Garcia battles hard to share 11th in Aramco Team Series-Singapore

19 March 2023 – Nicole Garcia battled hard on Saturday for her share of 11th place in the Ladies European Tour’s Aramco Team Series-Singapore at Laguna National Golf Club.

Garcia, who co-led going in to the final round at seven-under, started with an early birdie on the second hole, but she made four bogeys and a double during the rest of the round. She made two more birdies as she carded a three-over 75.

Meanwhile, France’s Pauline Roussin was racing away to an eight-under-par 64 to storm to her second Ladies European Tour title by four shots from American Danielle Kang, who signed off with a four-under 68.

World number one Lydia Ko finished third on 10-under, five strokes off the pace, after she closed with a 66.

Casandra Alexander had a two-under 70 to finish up on one-over and Kaleigh Telfer struggled to a three-over 75 in the final round to join Alexander in a share of 28th.

India’s Aditi Ashok continues to lead the way at the top of the standings in the 2023 Race to Costa del Sol with 1,210 points.

Spain’s Ana Pelaez Trivino, following her runner-up finishes in the Joburg Ladies Open and Investec South African Women’s Open, held on for second place with 777.33 points, while Roussin shot to third with 569 points.

South Africa’s Ashleigh Buhai is fourth (545.19), England’s Lily May Humphreys, who won the 2023 Investec Order of Merit, is fifth (532) and England’s Alice Hewson is sixth (513.83). Garcia sits at No 18 on 239.86 and Alexander rounds out the top 20 with 211.50 points.

SOURCE: Mike Green |

17th March 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Team Wolf triumphs in Singapore

17 March 2023 – Team Wolf triumphed at the Aramco Team Series presented by Public Investment Fund – Singapore, claiming a one-stroke victory with a superb final round of 14-under-par.

After starting the day one shot behind leaders Team Young, Christine Wolf, Casandra Alexander, Eleanor Givens and amateur Katsuko Blalock backed up their great opening round with another excellent day at Laguna National.

It was a fast front nine as the Team soared to a score of 26-under, and Alexander sealed it for the team when she rolled in the crucial birdie on 18 to seal victory on a total of 29-under-par.

Captain Wolf said: “We all knew we needed a birdie on the last few holes and thank God, the girls pulled through. They’ve all played really well for the whole two days, and I couldn’t be prouder!”

It was a first LET title for Givens, who recently returned to the game after a medical time-out.

“This is definitely the peak of the comeback so far,” said Givens. “I’m really pleased. When I saw I was on the team with these two – Christine is one of my best friends and I love playing with Cas – I thought straight away we could have a really good chance here. I was looking forward to it.

“We’ve had really good fun, I was really pleased with some of the shots I hit. I was a little bit up and down today but there was a lot of good and I’m looking forward to the final day of the tournament tomorrow as well. It’s a nice first win for me and nice to do it with these three beside me.”

Alexander has been in this situation twice – winning the inaugural event in Jeddah as part of Team Pedersen in 2020 and again in Jeddah in 2022 with Team Garcia.

The South African explained: “I didn’t make many putts all day and I didn’t hit it close, so I was happy to hit it close on the last hole. As you’ve seen with my past performances in the Aramco Team Series, I like to leave it till the last minute and left it again.

“I was definitely very nervous; my heart was beating really fast. It’s not very often that you play below par individual golf and still have fun. We had a really good atmosphere and had good conversation. It was just fun.”

Team Roussin finished in second place on 28-under-par after a second round of 16-under which saw them move up the leaderboard.

Team Spilkova, Team Gustavsson and Team Kang ended the competition in a tie for third place one shot further back with Team Simmermacher, Team Law and Team Young on -25 in T6.

In the Individual competition, South Africa’s Nicole Garcia shares the lead with France’s Pauline Roussin and American Danielle Kang on seven-under.

Garcia, who led after the first round, had another solid day carding a round of 70 (-2) which included three birdies and one bogey. “Today, I think my scrambling and keeping it together was what went well. I was hoping a few more putts would have dropped but I was still hitting some good iron shots,” said the Investec player.

“I’m excited but probably also nervous for tomorrow. I’m normally chasing on the final day, so it’s quite a nice position to be in, we’ll see tomorrow how I feel. My golf feels solid so I’m hoping that tomorrow if I can just keep the rhythm that it will go well.”

Major champion Kang signed for a 68, which included eight birdies including three in a row on holes 13 through 15.

“I’m just trying to focus on whatever the shot that was in front of me and try not though think about anything else,” said the American.

“It’s been a little bit of a difficult week, so my caddie and I’ve been just staying in our own zone, our own bubble, and I think we did a good job today.”

It was also a solid day for LET winner Roussin, whose 69 included five birdies and two bogeys on day two.

Three players sit in a share of fourth place two shots behind the leaders with Dutch star Anne Van Dam, Austria’s Emma Spitz and Sweden’s Linn Grant on five-under-par.

Five players are in a tie for seventh place on four-under-par including world number one Lydia Ko, Czechia’s Klara Davidson Spilkova, Denmark’s Nicole Broch Estrup, England’s Bronte Law and Germany’s Chiara Noja

10th March 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Buhai refuses to be blown off course at Investec SA Women’s Open

10 March 2023 – Ashleigh Buhai’s fighting spirit shone through on Friday when she carded a three-under-par 69 in defiance of the effects of a stomach bug in the third round of the Investec South African Women’s Open Championship at Steenberg Golf Club.

While that paled in comparison with her opening 64 and her second-round 65, that she was able to overcome an opening bogey, make three birdies in the next four holes, and then hang tough in the face of the illness to finally make another birdie on the last hole of the day that left her four clear of her pursuers ahead of the final round of the tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Ladies European Tour.

“There’s a bit of a bug going around this week, and some of the players have got it,” said Buhai. “Unfortunately, I was one of them and I was up from 2.30 this morning. To get through today and shoot under par is pretty good and I’m very proud of myself.”

That string of 12 consecutive grinding pars from the sixth until the 17th came as her putter, which had been so hot for the first two rounds, cooled down significantly. She burned the edges enough to keep her interested, and the pars were enough to keep her ahead of Germany’s teenaged Chiara Noja and Spaniard Ana Pelaez Trivino.

Trivino carded a fine six-under-par 66 to climb to her share of third on 14-under through 54 holes, and Noja, who was Buhai’s closest pursuer at halfway, had a closing stretch meltdown of three bogeys in five holes from the 13th to the 17th as she signed for a three-under 69, having shared the lead with Buhai after the 12th hole.

Noja’s downfall seemed to start when she left an eagle putt on 12 just short, and, although she made birdie to draw level with Buhai, she seemed to be too keen to press home what she perceived to be an advantage. She pulled driver on the par-four 13th, a bold play which seemed destined for trouble when she pushed it right.

“Me trying to carry that bunker is not even an option,” said Buhai of the surprising play by Noja. “To be honest, if you hit it over that bunker, there’s no space anyway. I hit seven-wood, wedge downwind the way the hole played today, so I don’t really see the play.

“But that was a little opening and then, I thought if I could make my birdie putt there, it could be a two-shot swing. I hit a good putt, but it didn’t drop – story of my day!”

Noja then three-putted for bogey on the 15th, found the greenside bunker on the par-three 17th and was unable to get it up and down from there, and couldn’t make the most of a birdie chance on 18.

“I think I played a lot better than I scored,” said Noja. “Obviously, I’m a little sick and I got a little sloppy and tired. On the back nine, I could really feel it. I was just trying to get across 18 and go to sleep and recover for tomorrow and try to keep myself in contention as much as possible. I’m really gutted that putt on 18 didn’t drop because I hit it and thought it was going in.”

Behind the leading three, last year’s runner-up Magdalena Simmermacher from Argentina showed her class again with a second-consecutive five-under-par 67 taking her to fourth on 13-under. She was one clear of Alessandra Fanali of Italy, who also signed for a 67, and Sweden’s Johanna Gustavsson, who had a 69 to move to nine-under and a share of fifth.

South Africa’s Casandra Alexander parlayed a hole-in-one on the second into a two-under 70 to move into seventh at eight-under and be the second-placed South African. Next-best of the South Africans was rookie Kaleigh Telfer, who was one shot behind Alexander in a share of eighth on seven-under after she carded a one-under 71.

For Buhai, the chase from Noja was a good bit of practice at focusing on the job at hand in the final round when she sets off in pursuit of her fourth title in her national open championship. “I like to think the calibre of shots I have will stand me in good stead tomorrow, especially with the wind,” she said. “She’s a great player. When she came out firing – and so did Maggie – I didn’t have the energy to fight back. It just showed that experience is important, and by staying patient, it definitely paid off.”