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27th April 2021 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Samu leads youthful chase for success in Soweto

27 April 2021 – With three first-time winners in the first three events of the 2020 Sunshine Ladies Tour season, Ivanna Samu hopes the trend of maiden winners continues when the R500 000  Joburg Ladies Open tees off at Soweto Country Club on Wednesday.

The popular tour stop joined Africa’s premier women’s professional circuit in 2016 and crowned world-beater Lee-Anne Pace as its first champion Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club.

Two-time Ladies European Tour champion Ashleigh Buhai and three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Kim Williams also won at the Linksfield course before the tournament moved to its new home in Soweto in 2019, where Nobuhle Dlamini became the first champion.

Coming off a winning week in the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge, the eSwatini golfer claimed a four-shot victory. Following her success in Soweto, Dlamini also bagged the Investec Order of Merit prize.

The Joburg Ladies Open did the same for Monique Smit last year.

Her one-shot triumph over Czech Sideri Vanova delivered a huge injection of confidence and the resurgence to form resulted in a stunning performance in the Investec South African Women’s Open two weeks later – a runner-up finish at Westlake that also landed Smit at the top of the Investec Order of Merit for 2020.

Ivanna Samu made a fantastic start to her professional career in 2017, but a series of setbacks due to health issues impacted her progress over the last two years.

Making her comeback after beating cancer in 2020, the lanky blonde golfer would love to go etch her name on the trophy at the end of the week. “I’ve had some issues with my swing as a result of the cancer treatments and Callaway has been fantastic. They have given me clubs that helps me to swing easier and I am starting to play better as the rust comes off,” said Samu, who tied for 13th at the Gary Player Country Club.

“Having played the course last year, I have a much better sense of the demands this course places on your overall game. You have to string three really good rounds together to have a chance at the title and it starts with your first tee shot. I’ve been building some nice confidence with the new clubs, so who knows, this might just be my week at last.”

Last week’s maiden winner in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge winner, Michaela Fletcher, is just as eager to capture some Soweto magic.

“It’s not just about going back-to-back on the Sunshine Ladies Tour,” she said. “When you look at the past winners of this event, you understand why all the younger players want to join them. It’s like the Joburg Ladies Open has a special quality. It spark a return to form or the start to bigger things. I want to bank some of that magic.”

Fletcher agrees with Samu that the Soweto layout puts a premium on precision.

“I played Soweto for the first time last year and it’s a really challenging course. You have to position yourself well off the tees, you need a lot of finesse around the greens and your putting better be solid, because the greens are very tricky. I’m feeling positive and my game is feeling solid, so I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.”

Other young stars targeting a maiden breakthrough, who have shown promise in the first three weeks of the eighth season, include Cape Town Ladies Open runner-up Cara Gorlei, Lindi Coetzee, who tied for second in the Jabra Ladies Classic and Denmark’s Linette Holmslykke.

But to lift the trophy on Friday, the fledglings will have to step up their games.

After months away from competitive golf, the big guns have been coming into form and as the circuit heads to the business end of the season, they will be hunting trophies just as hard.

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

7th February 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Samu another step closer on Sunshine Ladies Tour

Several players, including former champion Lee-Anne Pace, made a hard charge for the top spot, but 19-year-old Ivanna Samu edged another step closer to a maiden professional win as she maintained a slender one-shot lead in the Cape Town Ladies Open on Wednesday.

The Ruimsig golfer heads a packed leaderboard at eight-under after carding a second round 72 at Royal Cape Golf Club.

Swedish newcomer Anna Sventrup and former Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Kiran Matharu from England are hot on her heels, while Pace lurks two shots back.

Rachel Raastad from Norway and Anne-Lise Caudal from France are within striking distance at four under and, at three under, Canon Ladies Tshwane Open champion Stacy Bregman, who won the inaugural Cape Town Ladies Open in 2015, and Nicole Garcia cannot be discounted.

For Samu, even contemplating a breakthrough victory was almost too much to handle.

“It would be beyond words,” she said. “I am trying not to get ahead of myself and staying in the moment. I know I am going to have to be patient.

“Even today I felt a lot more emotion on the course because I wasn’t hitting my tee shots as straight as I would have liked. But in the end, I recovered well and that gives me a lot of confidence going into the final round.

“The wind picked up and I struggled a bit with club selection, but I’m still enjoying every moment. I have a personal goal going into the final round. I want to get into double figures under par and I want to pull back some shots on some holes that gave me trouble today.”

Meanwhile Matharu fired the day’s best, a seven-under-par 67 that included five birdies and a hole-out eagle on the par-four first hole.

The Englishwoman, who won the Canon Ladies Tshwane Open 12 months ago, attributed her change in fortunes to a slight tweak in her putting stroke. “I actually played pretty well yesterday,” she explained of her even-par opening-round.

“I came up short on a few iron shots and I missed a few short putts, but I spent quite a bit of time on the putting green with my putting coach (Warren Lake). I adjusted well to the speed of the greens and it was much better today.”

LPGA Tour winner Pace will have her work cut out to capture a title she last won in 2016.

Samu led the field as an amateur in the first round the year Pace won and gained a lot of experience competing on the local circuit since. If Pace hopes to add a 12th trophy to her mantle, she will have to make up a three-shot deficit on Samu.

“She is a very promising young talent,” said Pace. “She is a really good ball striker, and the course suits her because of all the par fives, where she probably has an iron into the greens. She will be tough to catch.

“Even if the wind gets up around here, you can still shoot under par because the greens run so true. But if there is no wind on Thursday, I’m probably going to have to shoot at least six-under to have a chance.”

The 36 year-old admitted to feeling a little bit of rustiness after coming out of the off-season, but has been encouraged by her game over the first two rounds.

“I’m hitting some really nice golf shots and controlling the ball flight well,” she explained. “When that happens I know that my swing is in a good place. I feel like I just need to eliminate the small mistakes and hopefully I can get my hands back on that trophy.”

Spanish golfer Maria Beautell made the cut to 30 and ties at six-over on the nose after she holed out at the par three eighth. “I had 135 metres to the hole and hit a six-iron with a little fade and we watched it disappear into the hole,” said Beautell. “That was my first ever hole-in-one in a tournament and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”

Three amateurs progressed to the final round, with Cassandra Hall and Jordan Rothman leading the charge on three-over, with Royal Cape member Zayb Fredericks is a further shot back.

6th February 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Samu stakes claim at Cape Town Ladies Open

Ivanna Samu must have experienced a few flashbacks as she powered her way to a six-under-par 68 lead in the opening round of the Cape Town Ladies Open on Tuesday.

The big-hitting 19-year old Ruimsig golfer made the most of perfect conditions as she birdied all six of the six par fives at Royal Cape Golf Club to grab a one-stroke lead over England’s Hayley Davis.
Two years ago, Samu upstaged Sunshine Ladies Tour winners Lee-Anne Pace, Ashleigh Buhai and Monique Smit to lead the event on the same score.

That was before the reigning Sanlam South African Amateur champion joined the paid ranks, and she has since put together a string of good performances on the Sunshine Ladies Tour in the past two seasons.

A maiden win still eludes her, but with this season’s results of tie-fifth in the Canon Ladies Tshwane Open and a runner-up finish in the Joburg Ladies Open last week, Samu is trending towards a first visit to the winner’s circle.

“It’s obviously something that I’m striving for,” she explained.

“I won a lot as an amateur and I really want to get that winning feeling back. But I’m not going to get ahead of myself. Last year I found that I slipped up in the first round of tournaments, so now that I’ve put myself into a good position, I just want to stay patient and play one hole at a time and if it is my time then that win will come.”

Samu bounced back from a three-putt for bogey on the second hole to reel off five birdies in succession from the third hole before a bogey at the par-three eighth ended her run of red numbers.

Three further birdies on the back nine – all on the par fives – saw her sign for the day’s best score.

“I really love my job,” Samu said. “I love being out here, doing what I do. Every day offers a new challenge and you can’t ask for a better office.”

England’s Davis, a first-time visitor to South Africa, mixed six birdies with a solitary bogey on the par-three eighth.

“I was a bit wayward off the tee, so that’s something I will work on, but other than that I was very happy with my round,” she said.

The trio of Bonita Bredenhann from Namibia, South Africa’s Nicole Garcia and Rachel Raastad from Norway finished a further shot adrift.

Former champion Lee-Anne Pace was on track for a comfortable first-round lead when she reached the 16th tee at seven-under, but the LPGA Tour campaigner stumbled to a bogey, bogey, double bogey finish to tie for third with Kim Williams on three-under.

Border golfer Yolanda Duma eagled the par-four closing hole for a seat on the bus at two-under with Canon Ladies Tshwane Open winner Stacy Bregman, Mae Cornforth, Sweden’s Anna Sventrup, Rachael Goodall from England and Mariell Bruun from Norway.

Ekurhuleni amateur Casandra Hall heads up the amateur leaderboard on three-over 75, with former SAGDB player Cassidy Williams from Stellenbosch a further shot back.

30th January 2018 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Samu targets ‘home’ victory in Joburg Ladies Open

South Africa’s Ivanna Samu hopes to use her extensive knowledge of Modderfontein Golf Club as a springboard for success when the Joburg Ladies Open gets underway on Wednesday.

A top five finish in last week’s Canon Ladies Tshwane Open after a month-long injury lay-off was just the shot in the arm the second-season professional needed as she targets a Sunshine Ladies Tour breakthrough in the R500 000 City of Joburg showpiece.

“I aggravated an old wrist injury in early December and I only started practicing after the BMW SA Open,” said the statuesque 19-year-old Ruimsig Country Club golfer.

“I was really anxious and had shocking back nines in the first and second rounds for 76 and 74, but I took control in the final round. Shooting three-under in the last round brought all the confidence back.”

She had a proper spring in her step when she arrived at Modderfontein for Tuesday’s Pro-Am.

“The moment I saw that the Joburg Ladies Open was coming to Modderfontein this year, I was raring to go,” said Samu. “I know this course like the back of my hand, and it’s great to be back.

“I played nearly all my junior golf here; in fact, ask any kid who came through the junior ranks at Gauteng and they will tell you that this is their other ‘home course’. The memories came flooding back when I walked into the clubhouse and I am flush with positive vibes.”

Samu held the number one ranking as an amateur for almost two years and, predictably, was the leading amateur at the end of the 2016 Sunshine Ladies Tour season. She made her pro debut last year, but the reality of the paid ranks was a big wake-up call.

“The transition to the paid ranks was mentally really tough,” said Samu, who signed a deal with Callaway on Monday to become the first female pro to represent the brand in South Africa.

“When you dominate on the amateur circuit, you get comfortable. When I was preparing for my Sunshine Ladies Tour debut on the IGT Challenge Tour, I began to realise how big the gap really is. That first season was a huge eye-opener, from playing at home to going to the First Stage of the LPGA Tour Qualifying School.”

Samu believes testing the water in the United States gave her the perspective to succeed.

“When I played the Sunshine Ladies Tour as an amateur, I played with a lot of freedom and did really well,” she said. “In my first pro season, I should have played the courses; instead I played for my sponsors, my parents, family and friends. I wanted to run before I could walk.

“America taught me that I still have a long road ahead of me and that playing for money comes with a whole set of headaches. What I learned was that the journey to the LPGA Tour is a series of steps and only the exceptional few skip ahead.

“Ultimately I know where I want to end up. To get on the LPGA Tour, I have to earn my stripes. I got some stripes on the IGT Challenge Tour and the Pink Stig Series last year, and I’m earning more stripes on the Sunshine Ladies Tour this season. But just maybe, I can land a trophy along the way.”

A total of 81 players will start the 54-hole Joburg Ladies Open, including 29 local and 31 international professionals plus 21 amateurs, led by the country’s number one ranked junior Woo-Ju Son.