Share on: [addtoany buttons='facebook,twitter,email']

3rd March 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Folke soars on eagle wings to Joburg Ladies Open lead

3 March 2023 – Moa Folke from Sweden holed out for an eagle on Friday on the par-four 18th at Modderfontein Golf Club to grab a two-shot lead on moving day in the €300 000 Joburg Ladies Open.

The Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am winner Folke made eight birdies and two bogeys before the eagle to post an eight-under-par 65.

Halfway leader Nicole Broch Estrup of Denmark, who had a two-under-par 71, slipped second on 10-under ahead of the final round of the tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Ladies European Tour.

“I played really well today, I’m very happy,” said Folke. “The wind is a little bit different today, so I was quite nervous on the tee shot on 18, not knowing the wind, and then I got in the rough.

“I got a really good lie, though. I was in between clubs but then I just picked one and hit it and it looked really good and to see it go in is such a fun feeling. My putter definitely helped, I putted really well but I’ve also given myself a lot of chances today, so overall it was great.”

It was a quiet start for Folke as she opened moving day with a birdie on the first, followed by two pars and then her first bogey on the fourth. She redeemed that dropped shot immediately and made three birdies in the next four holes to turn in three-under 34.

She picked up another birdie on the 10th and dropped her second shot on the 12th. Unfazed, she made three more birdies on her way home, and followed those with the wonderful closing shot on 18.

Estrup, who had a superb 66 to take the 36-hole lead, was inevitably a little more subdued in the third round. “I feel like two-under today was pretty good, it could have been a little bit lower if I had putted better,” she said. “I didn’t feel like I putted bad; just more that I didn’t roll anything in. If a few more had dropped it would have been a really good day.

“I would really love to come out on top tomorrow. I feel like I’m ready for it. It will be hard, and it will be tough, but I’m more ready than I have been. I feel like I’ve learned a lot the past couple of weeks and even today about myself and how to handle myself. I’m looking forward to tomorrow, it will be a good challenge.”

One shot behind the second-placed Estrup was Klara Davidson Spilkova of the Czech Republic, who signed for a three-under-par 70 to reach nine-under-par, three off the lead. She said, “I was very solid today and I was just waiting for the putts to go in and fortunately it did on the last hole, but I was just trying to stay patient out there.

“I feel very good about tomorrow, this is what we work for to be in the final groups. I’m excited and maybe a little nervous as always, but that’s good. I’m just going to stay patient, trust myself and trust the process and see what happens.”

The leading South African heading into the closing round was Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie Kiera Floyd, who had a six-under-par 67 with an eagle, seven birdies and three bogeys to move to seven-under and a share of fourth.

The leading amateur in the Investec South African Women’s Open last year, Floyd finished second in the Cape Town Ladies Open in brutal weather at Atlantic Beach Links a fortnight ago, showing she has the mental strength to withstand the pressure of the big stage.

The 18-year-old has played regularly at Modderfontein for most of her golfing life, and she used that to her advantage. “I have played this course since I was about seven years old,” she said. “I know this course like the back of my hand.

“The eagle on 13 was a pretty good eagle, I must say. I hit a good drive down the middle and I had about 115 and I hit it to about 20-foot and I just made the putt. I felt good over it. I left a few birdie putts out there, but I’m happy with the progress I made today. I’m just going to go out there and experience everything tomorrow. It’s all new to me and there are really no expectations towards anything. If I just stick to the game plan that I did today, I think I will do well.”

For Folke, the win in the Dimension Data Pro-Am has freed her up. “I have gained so much confidence,” she said of her victory at Fancourt last month. “Getting to win a few weeks ago on the Sunshine Ladies Tour gave me so much confidence knowing I can play well and to prove that I can play well today was extra special.

“I think I’m going to be nervous tomorrow, but it is so much fun to be in this position. I have been in this position once before and it didn’t go so well. I feel like I’m a better player now so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. After I was in this position last time, I worked really hard on my short game and my long game has gotten better so I feel I’m better prepared this time.”

2nd March 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Dane Estrup takes Joburg Ladies Open lead

, 2 March 2023 – Nicole Broch Estrup from Denmark improved by six strokes in Thursday’s second round of the Joburg Ladies Open at Modderfontein Golf Club as she fired a flawless seven-under-par 66 to take a two-stroke lead in the tournament co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Ladies European Tour.

Estrup reached the halfway mark at eight-under, and sits two shots clear of Sweden’s Linnea Johansson, Klara Davidson Spilkova from the Czech Republic and England’s Lily May Humpreys. Finland’s Ursula Wikstrom was in fifth, while the leading South African, Nicole Garcia, shared sixth on four-under with Felicity Johnson from England, Swede Moa Folke, Kirsten Rudgeley from Australia and Italy’s Alessandra Fanali.

The 36-hole cut to 60 and ties fell at two-over, leaving 64 to contest for a share of the €300 000 purse over the next two rounds.

Estrup said the difference between day one and two was the par-fives, and a hot putter.

“In the first round, I was three-over on the par-fives,” she said. “I am always kind of focusing on the par-fives, but today I really wanted to take advantage of them. The first hole being a par-five, I started with a nice birdie so that kicked it off. The big difference from yesterday to today is the par-fives, I think I’m four-under on them and yesterday I was three-over.”

In addition to doing better on the longer holes, where she felt she was able to get away with a couple of bad drives here and there, her putting had taken her into the lead. “The strongest part of my game was probably my putting,” she said. “Knock on wood, I haven’t three-putted yet in these two rounds and I made some clutch five- to seven-footers when I needed for pars and even for birdies on the par-fives when I two-putted.”

Estrup is also working on embracing the challenges golf throws at her, rather than avoiding the inevitability of them and her husband Casper on the bag proved a valuable asset.

“My caddie was good at reminding me that my big goal is that I want to achieve and not avoid,” she said. “So, not being afraid of hitting a bad shot but trying to achieve to hit good shots and I did good today on that part.

“I’m feeling really comfortable, but the last year-and-a-half, the mental game has been my biggest struggle. If I can keep improving slowly on that part, then hopefully I’m going to keep finding myself in this position. I’m feeling good about my game, but when I get scared on the course, that’s when I hit the bad shots.”

Johansson and Spilkova each carded four-under-par 60. Johansson’s total had a double-bogey on it, and Spilkova had two bogeys. Humphreys had a rollercoaster three-under 70 that featured two double-bogeys, an eagle and five birdies.

Garcia reeled in five birdies for her second successive two-under 71, and, at four-under at the 36-hole mark, is nicely placed ahead of the weekend.

So too is five-time Investec South African Women’s Open champion Lee-Anne Pace. She had a four-under 69 to move into 11th at three-under, just five strokes back, and she can strike from there.

But, for Estrup, it’s about wanting to hit good shots without being afraid of hitting bad ones. “I’m probably going to be nervous over the weekend, but I’m looking forward to it,” she said. “The opening tournament in Morocco was an eye-opener where I was back to reality with a good first round and then a bad second round. It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to being in the mix.”

1st March 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Rookie Holmey goes on birdie spree to lead Joburg Ladies Open

1 March 2023 – Ladies European Tour rookie Lauren Holmey from the Netherlands birdied her last hole on Wednesday to move to six-under-par 67 and a one-stroke lead in the first round of the €300 000 Joburg Ladies Open at Modderfontein Golf Club.

Playing in just her second tournament on the Ladies European Tour – this one co-sanctioned with the Sunshine Ladies Tour – the 20-year-old overcame three bogeys with a flurry of nine birdies to edge one clear of Alice Hewson of England and Denmark’s Smilla Tarning Soenderby, who were on five-under in a share of second.

That flurry of birdies came after she started her round on the 10th with a bogey.

She regained that stroke with a birdie on 12, but then she made five birdies in a row from the 15th. “I think I have to thank my father, who was on the bag, for that,” said Holmey. “It was a really good day on the greens.

“The putts were all pretty much within 20 feet, as a result of good second shots to the green. I picked my spots on the greens quite well too, so I had easy uphill putts with not too much break. It was the first time I got so many birdies in a row.”

She is relishing the adventure of starting her rookie season in Africa: “I’m loving every moment,” she said. “I played in Morocco before this, so this is my second tournament and I’m just enjoying every moment. It’s just a lot of fun being a rookie on the LET.

“Tomorrow, I just have to keep playing like I did today. I have my dad and my mom with me, so I have my own little team. It’s someone who is always there for me. He’s been a great support to me, and we’ve been a great team for the past year now,” she added.

Hewson, the winner of the Investec South African Women’s Open in 2020 in her rookie season on the Ladies European Tour, finished last year’s Joburg Ladies Open in a share of third, and she went bogey-free around Modderfontein as she converted a hot start to a five-under-par 68.

“I birdied four of my first five holes,” said Hewson. “Hit the first in two which is always nice, and I had a nice easy two-putt. I hit it nice and tight into two and three. I just missed on four, unfortunately, but again, hit five in two for a two-putt birdie. And then the putter cooled down a bit for the rest of the round, but that’s okay.

“Had to stay patient on the back nine which is a bit trickier than the front nine. No bogeys on the card. I didn’t hit every shot perfectly today, did not hit everything as planned. I had a little luck and didn’t end up behind any trees or anything like that, which is always good. Plotted my way around the course really nicely.”

Her round is a continuation of what has been a solid start on the 2023 Ladies European Tour season, in which she is currently lying fourth on the Race to Costa del Sol. She finished in a share of fourth in the Magical Kenya Ladies Open and had top-20 finishes in the Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco and the Saudi Ladies International.

She didn’t play South Africa in 2021, but she added a share of 11th in the Investec South African Women’s Open to her third at Modderfontein last year in the Joburg Ladies Open.

The leading South African after the first round was the evergreen Tandi McCallum, in a share of fourth after her opening four-under-par 69 which she made despite a double-bogey and two bogeys. Next best were Nicole Garcia, the impressive young rookie Kaleigh Telfer and Lora Assad, all on two-under-par.

28th February 2023 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

No expectations for Alexander in Joburg Ladies Open

28 February 2023 – Although she has won twice on the Sunshine Ladies Tour this season, Casandra Alexander says she is not going into the €300 000 Joburg Ladies Open which gets underway at Modderfontein Golf Club on Wednesday with any expectations.

Alexander, who added last week’s Jabra Ladies Classic to her SuperSport Ladies Challenge title from the beginning of February, leads the Investec Order of Merit on the local tour, and is clearly on a roll ahead of the final two events of the season which are co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Ladies European Tour.

“I’m gearing up for the two big ones, but I have no expectations; I’m just excited for the week ahead,” the 2021 Joburg Ladies Open champion said.

She won her title at Soweto Country Club by one stroke from South Africa’s leading player at the time, Lee-Anne Pace, but she missed the cut at Modderfontein last year when Sweden’s Linn Grant won her third title in South Africa before going on to nearly conquer the world.

“I struggled out there last year,” said Alexander, “but the confidence I have from winning my two tournaments on the Sunshine Ladies Tour this year really helps me. I have fond memories of the Joburg Open having won it before. Yes, it’s a different golf course, and it wasn’t co-sanctioned then, but it has always been a special week.”

And it is special again this week, with no less than five Investec South African Women’s Open champions in the field, including Pace, who has won the last two national titles, 2020 winner Alice Hewson from England, Diksha Dagar from India, who won in 2019, Norway’s Marianne Skarpnord, the winner in 2013 and Tandi McCallum, who won in 2009.

There is also last year’s runner-up, Kim Metraux of Switzerland, as well as players from 28 countries other than South Africa.

And, of course, there are the South African players looking to make their mark on the Ladies European Tour, as well as their own home circuit – the rookies like Kiera Floyd and Gabi Venter, as well as the experienced players who are settling in to their work at local and international level, like Nicole Garcia and Stacy Bregman.

With six players inside the world’s top 200 according to the Rolex Women’s World Rankings – including Pace and Hewson, Ana Pelaez Trivino of Spain, the Czech Republic’s Klara Davidson Spilkova, Leonie Harm of Germany and Swede Johanna Gustavsson – it’s a field for locals to test themselves against as they look to further their careers.

Alexander is heading down that road having played a season on the Ladies European Tour already, and the Joburg Ladies Open can give her a little help on that path. “It’s an advantage to be staying at home, sleeping in my own bed,” she said. “You don’t get a stiff body that way. Being surrounded by my team is a big bonus.

“I can take each day as just another round of golf, even though they are bigger events and more players are coming out for them,” she added.

Two wins in a season is also a bit of a boost, and it won’t be too much of a surprise to see her in the mix over the weekend. Or to see her win.

| Sunshine Ladies Tour

Joburg Ladies Open makes a difference

28 February 2023 – When The City of Johannesburg Executive Mayor, Cllr Thapelo Amad Linn, hits the first tee shot on Wednesday morning to launch the 2023 Joburg Ladies Open, 132 golfers will be hoping to emulate the celebrated winner from last year, Linn Grant.

Grant won the first of four Ladies European Tour titles last season when she took the eighth Joburg Ladies Open at Modderfontein Golf Club on her way to a dominant showing in the Race to Costa del Sol.

The eighth edition of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and Ladies European Tour (LET) co-sanctioned event at Modderfontein Golf Club from 1-4 March is one of the early events on the 2023 LET season, boasting 30 tournaments and spanning 21 countries in a record-breaking schedule. The winner on Saturday will not only bank the lion share of the prize money, worth approximately R880 000, but will be exempt into most of the LET events of the season.

The first LET stop in South Africa this year boasts a significant bump in prize money – from €250,000 to €300,000 – making this event a hugely attractive drawcard for local golfers with aspirations to play in the Europe and the international contenders targeting an early advantage on the season-long Race to Costa del Sol.

Grant was crowned winner of the third edition of the Race to Costa del Sol following in the footsteps of Thailand’s Atthaya Thitikul and Denmark’s Emily Kristine Pedersen.

In her rookie season on tour, the 23-year-old won four times and only finished outside the top 10 in individual events on four occasions. The Swede became the fifth player to win both the Race to Costa del Sol and Rookie of the Year titles in the same season, while she also voted Players’ Player of the Year and climbed to a career-high of 24 in the Rolex Women’s World Golf Rankings.

With major champion and winner of the 2022 AIG Women’s Open Championship Ashleigh Buhai and six-time Investec South African Women’s Open champion Lee-Anne Pace on the previous winners’ roster of the Joburg Ladies Open, South African women have local players to emulate too.

Last year, Nicole Garcia was the highest-placed South African at Modderfontein, finishing in a share of third. “The Joburg Ladies Open has always been really popular,” she said after her win, “and we local golfers are so incredibly grateful to Bongi Mokaba and The City of Johannesburg for getting LET status for the tournament.

“To have two chances to gain winner’s status on the LET is a huge incentive for us. But you know, even if you don’t win, just to have the international competition on our shores for two weeks is massive, especially for the young pros who can’t afford to compete abroad,” she added.

Mokaba, The City of Johannesburg Director: Event Management, has been the driving force behind this tournament for the last years, and was hugely instrumental to have the Joburg Ladies Open elevated to co-sanctioned status. “The Joburg Ladies Open has been hugely successful since its introduction on the Sunshine Ladies Tour in 2016 and we are confident that the event will continue to enjoy the success it achieved as a co-sanctioned event in 2022,” she said.

The Joburg Ladies Open is also unique in that it truly aims at growing the game and drawing women into the sport.

“We are the only tournament during which only women play in our pro-am preceding the event,” Mokaba said. “We also use only women as volunteers and you will not only see Modderfontein ladies members on the course doing scoring and other volunteer work, but we draw women from many golf clubs who love to be part of the event.

“The Joburg Ladies Open has always been a tournament with purpose, and the theme this year is ‘Dignity for a Female Child’. We have teamed up with SPAR on our ‘Birdies for Dignity’ campaign, and SPAR will donate a dignity pack for every birdie or better hit during the duration of the tournament. “We are also running a ‘Splash for Dignity’ initiative during the pro-am and for every shot that goes in the water, the golfer will donate R50, which will be used to buy additional sanitary packs. All the packs will be donated to the headmistress of the Zeneleni Primary School in Alexandra when the tournament wraps up on Saturday.

“This is an initiative that is as close to my heart as the tournament is, and it’s fantastic to see how all our pro-am guests, our players, SPAR and SuperSport have embraced this. We also invite all our spectators to bring sanitary packs to donate, or to make a donation at the event.”

26th March 2022 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Dream Joburg Ladies Open win seals Grant’s SA hat-trick

It was a dream start to life on the Ladies European Tour (LET) for Linn Grant, as the Swedish star claimed a five-shot victory at the Joburg Ladies Open in her first start as a full member.

The victory for Grant was her third in the last month on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, having claimed success in the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s Dimension Data Ladies Challenge and Jabra Ladies Classic in February.

And she completed her South African hat-trick in style on Saturday, with the rest of the field having no answer for her incredible final round at Modderfontein Golf Club.

The 22-year-old from Helsingborg shared the lead with Spain’s Maria Hernandez on five-under at the 36-hole mark, but she was a cut above the rest over the last 18 holes, firing a six-under-par 67 to triumph on 11-under 208. 

“It’s always nice to get a win; it feels amazing,” said the smiling Grant. “It was great to come to the Sunshine Ladies Tour before the LET season began to make the most of the good weather and get some practice in.

“I still feel like there’s some scary holes here, especially coming in on the back nine. You have to keep your shots together and there’s a couple of holes you have to look out for on the front nine as well, so I tried not to do anything stupid really.” 

The 2017 Ping Junior Solheim Cup star showed no signs of nerves as she registered birdies on the first and second holes to create an early gap ahead of the chasing pack, before picking up another shot on the fifth to carve open a sizeable gap. 

She immediately negated a bogey on the sixth with birdies on seven and eight, turning at nine-under with her nearest challenge, Kim Metraux, four shots back.

A fifth birdie from off the green on 13 took Grant to double digits, and with the gallery watching as she walked down the last, she picked up one more shot on the 18th, the latest in a series of perfectly executed approaches onto the final green setting up a grandstand finish.

Grant, who earned cards for the 2022 LET and LPGA Tour at Q-School last year, had already shown her calibre with two runner-up finishes in 2021, making the most of invitations to the Didriksons Skaftö Open and the Creekhouse Ladies Open.

“I feel like with the two events in Sweden last year I got used to the LET a bit, so coming here this week wasn’t that huge a gap to cross, but still it was my first event,” said Grant.

Despite a four-shot cushion on the last hole, she admitted to feeling a little nervy over the final approach shot and putt. But her second turned out to be one of the best of the day. “I was going to aim pin high and to the right, but I changed at the last minute to go for it. The putt wasn’t that short, so it was nervy, but I was so happy I got it done with a birdie.”

It was a career-best finish for left-hander Metraux in South Africa.

The Swiss star maintained her good form from Friday into the weekend and reeled in four birdies on her way to a final day score of 71 (-2), capitalising on the par five first, eighth and tenth holes to pick up shots on her way to a sole second finish.

“It was quite good. I made a few mistakes here and there, and I had a couple of lip-outs but I was pleased with how I played again,” said the 26-year-old Swiss golfer of her first top 10 finish since last September.

Nicole Garcia was the highest finishing South African, coming home in two-under 71 to tie for third alongside 2020 Investec South African Women’s Open Alice Hewson from England (72) and Hernandez (73). 

Garcia began the day with back-to-back birdies to start her day, but bogeys on three and seven dropped her back to level par. She responded brilliantly with an eagle on the eighth and parred her way to successive top 10 finishes in as many LET tournaments this season. 

“My strike was better today, but I couldn’t get any momentum going with the putter on the back nine,” Garcia said. “I am happy to see my game trend in the right direction, though and hopefully that trend continues to the Investec South African Women’s Open at Steenberg next week.”

Proudly South African, the Johannesburg-native welcomed the move from the City of Johannesburg to take the tournament to co-sanctioned status.

“The Joburg Ladies Open has always been really popular, and we local golfers are so incredibly grateful to Bongi Mokaba and the City of Johannesburg for this move. To have two chances to gain winner’s status on the LET is a huge incentive for us,” she said. “But you know, even if you don’t win, just to have the international competition on our shores for two weeks is massive, especially for the young pros who can’t afford to compete abroad.”

Investec stable-mate Stacy Lee Bregman and Alexandra Swayne from US Virgin Islands tied for seventh on two-under, while GolfRSA’s No 1-ranked amateur Isabella van Rooyen finished third highest a further two shot adrift in the tie for 11th. 

Grant’s earlier victories on the Sunshine Ladies Tour moved her to the summit of the Investec Order of Merit, and she is virtually untouchable on 3 032 points, with Garcia her nearest challenger for the title on 1 224. The Swede also banked 500 points with the win to take pole position in the 2022 Race to Costa Del Sol alongside Aramco Saudi Ladies International winner Georgia Hall and Magical Kenya Ladies Open victor Esther Henseleit.

25th March 2022 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Grant sets up hat-trick of SA wins in the Joburg Ladies Open

Sweden’s Linn Grant moved in on a maiden Ladies European Tour win with a four-under 69 on moving day to co-lead the Joburg Ladies Open, while South Africa’s Nicole Garcia is still very well-placed in the chasing pack with one round to go in the co-sanctioned event at Modderfontein Golf Club.

The reigning Investec Order of Merit leader – already a two-time winner in her rookie season on the Sunshine Ladies Tour – made the most of an early start and windless conditions to move into pole position.

Grant’s clubhouse target looked to go unchallenged until first round leader Maria Hernandez from Spain overcame a bogey-start late in the day and signed for a one-under 72 to grab a share of the lead in the €250 000 event on five-under 141.

The pair will start the final round one shot clear of 2020 Investec South African Women’s Open champion Alice Hewson from England, who carded 70, and Kim Metraux from Switzerland, whose 68 was the low round of the day.

Local favourite Garcia fired a 71 to finish two off the pace in a tie for fifth with American Kelly Whaley (69), Frenchwoman Emma Grechi (71) and Alexandra Swayne from the US Virgin Islands, who returned respective rounds of 69, 71 and 72.

Welsh golfer Becky Morgan is also still in the mix at two-under after a round of 70.

It was a tale of resilience for Grant, who opened with a 69 in the blustery first round conditions. After an opening birdie, the 22-year-old recovered admirably from a bogey and double bogey on the third and fourth holes with an eagle on the par-five fifth to pull herself back up the leaderboard.

The wind-still conditions early in the day also helped for the 2017 PING Junior Solheim Cup player on the homeward loop. She reeled in birdies on the par-fives (10 and 13) and the par-three 14th to put herself in a great position to challenge for victory.

 “I had a good day out there. I didn’t really get the putts rolling in, but I played well on the par-fives, so I managed to get a good score,” Grant said. 

“There was no wind, and the weather was really nice. I just thought I had a lot of birdies in me, but then I started stumbling a little bit. I hit a great shot into five and had a tap in eagle to get back level, and then it carried on from there.”

Grant is no stranger to taking victory on South African soil, having already tasted success twice on the Sunshine Ladies Tour in the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge and the Jabra Ladies Classic last month.

Her hopes of making it three wins in four events on the Sunshine Ladies Tour were boosted with Friday’s strong showing, as she made the most of her length off the tee to give herself plenty of scoring opportunities. 

And with the chance to claim an LET title in her first event as a full member, the Swede is looking to keep that momentum going heading into the final day. 

“I gave myself better angles into the greens off the tee on the par-fives today and shorter approaches, so I kept going for the greens and two-putted my way to birdies. The finish here is quite tough so I tried to keep it simple,” she said.

“I’m going to stick to the same strategy, but I’m going to be on my toes a little bit. I’ll be a little bit more aggressive on the pins and hit the putts a little bit harder.”

Hernandez, whose last visit to the winner’s circle was at the Allianz Ladies Slovak Open 12 years ago, produced a steadier second round.

Things didn’t start brilliantly for the 36-year-old, as she dropped a shot on the tenth – her opening hole – but birdies on the 13th and fifth negated another dropped shot on 15, before she made hay on the par-five eighth to finish one shot to the good.

“It wasn’t as easy as yesterday. I was hitting good shots but with too much club. I played solid, but I struggled a little bit on the greens today but at least I finished well and made some good putts coming in,” she said. “If I’m telling the truth I don’t think about winning. Tomorrow is a new day and a new challenge, so I’ll just go out and try to play my best. 

“There will be so many challenges and we don’t know what is going to happen, so I just have to play shot by shot. If, at the end of the day, everything goes well then great, and if not, you have to take the positives and go into the next week.”

A host of players still capable of making a late break including Garcia, the leading South African, who is also chasing a maiden LET victory. She still struggled with her swing, but a hot putter kept her contention.

“I started a bit slow and didn’t take advantage of birdie opportunities on the par fives on the front nine that I could reach, which was a little disappointing, but other than that I’m happy with the result,” said the Ebotse golfer, who offset a lone bogey with a trio of birdies.

“I’m still struggling with the strike, especially on the approach shots with the longer irons, but I’ll go work on it later and hopefully I can make the most of the scorable holes tomorrow. The putter is behaving well and it helped me a lot to make crucial par saves, so that’s a big positive to take into the final round.”

The next best South African is GolfRSA’s No 1-ranked amateur Isabella van Rooyen, who is making the most of her sponsor’s invitation.

The Clovelly golfer fired three birdies to negate a lone bogey for a 72 to finish in the tie for 10th on one-under. “I’m really happy with my performance so far,” said the 19-year-old. “I said before the start of the tournament that my only goals were to make the cut and to improve on my previous results, and so far, so good. I’ve really enjoyed the tournament so far and I’m looking forward to the final round, because it presents another opportunity for me build experience and learn from my playing partners.”

24th March 2022 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Happy Hernandez leads the Joburg Ladies Open

Maria Hernandez gave herself the perfect birthday present – a two-shot lead in the opening round of the €250 000 Joburg Ladies Open – on Thursday.

The Spaniard made the most of an early start and the tranquil conditions at Modderfontein Golf Club to fire a four-under-par 69 that featured five birdies to set the early clubhouse lead that went unchallenged in the Sunshine Ladies Tour and Ladies European Tour co-sanctioned event.

The 36-year-old got off to the ideal start with birdies on the third and sixth holes.

Her only dropped shot of the day came at the ninth, but she bounced back with a brace of the birdies on the 14th and 15th holes and knocked in a birdie putt at the closing hole to take the lead.

With the wind swirling in the afternoon and her target going unchallenged, Hernandez was delighted with her work on foreign soil.

“I played really solid today; I managed to stay out of trouble, and when I needed to I made up-and-downs, so it was a solid round,” she said.  

“The course is in great shape and the greens are really good. When the wind picked it up it made it a bit more challenging, but the greens were in good shape, so that was a plus. The back nine is trickier. On the front nine you have the three par-fives, so it’s easier to have a chance for birdies, but I actually played better on the back nine, so I’ll take it.

“It’s my third time out here and I love South Africa. I like the people; I love the environment and I always enjoy it when I come here.”

Alexandra Swayne from the US Virgin Islands, Germany’s Luisa Dittrich, Smilla Soenderby from Denmark and Italy’s Virginia Carte tied for second on two-under.

Swayne made her Ladies European Tour debut in January and the 21-year-old made an impressive start event on South African soil.

“I started on the back nine and I was even par, and I knew the front nine was going to be difficult, but I finished with an eagle and birdie, so it doesn’t feel like I shot two-under because I finished like that, but it was okay,” Swayne said.

“This is my third LET event so it’s been interesting. There’s a lot of travel for me from the Virgin Islands, but I’ve enjoyed it. I have no expectations – I go out there and have fun and hope a few putts drop. Golf’s a crazy game; you just have to go out and play your game.” 

South Africans Nicole Garcia and Ivanna Samu finished a further stroke back in a tie for eighth.

Samu was still in amateur when the event was played at Modderfontein in 2018, and she finished joint second behind the champion Ashleigh Buhai. Back to full strength after a two-year battle with cancer, she got off to an eagle-birdie start and turned six-under, but three bogeys and a double-bogey on 14 put paid to all her earlier efforts.

“I struggled in the wind coming home, but I’m happy nevertheless just to be out there and competing again,” said the smiling 23-year-old. “I played a lot of golf here as an amateur and I know how tough the back nine can be in the wind. But I’m still happy with the start and hopefully I can build on it tomorrow.

In-form Garcia, hunting a first LET win and riding the confidence of a top 10 finish in the Aramco Saudi Ladies International last weekend, also made a strong start with a trio of birdies in her first four holes. But she gave back two shots on 15 and 17 and two more bogeys on the back nine saw her slip into a tie for eighth.

“It was a little bit messy,” Garcia said. “My ball striking wasn’t on today, which made it a bit difficult, especially off the tee and I had a few bogeys. I’m happy with the end result, though. Considering I wasn’t hitting it 100%, there were a lot of positives to build on for tomorrow. 

“The wind picked up and there’s was a storm coming in. This course isn’t so easy when you have a wind gusting to compete with, but I think I will have the better side of the draw tomorrow morning with a storm forecast in the afternoon.”

Sweden’s Linn Grant – a two-time winner on the Sunshine Ladies Tour this season and the current Investec Order of Merit Leader – and 2020 Investec South African Women’s Open champion Alice Hewston from England are also in the bus at one-under alongside Manon De Roey from Belgium, Finland’s Noora Komulainen and Frenchwoman Emma Grechi.

19th October 2021 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Joburg Ladies Open graduates to co-sanctioned status

While the 2021 Joburg Open will usher in the start of the Sunshine Tour and European Tour’s major summer season in South African golf, the popular Joburg Ladies Open has earned co-sanctioned status.

The 2022 edition will be jointly hosted by the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Ladies European Tour, will return to its home at Soweto Country Club from 3-5 March, boasting a prize fund of €250 000.

Former champions of the event include former Ladies European Tour Order of Merit winner Lee-Anne Pace, former LET champion Ashleigh Buhai, Kim Williams, as well as Nobuhle Dlamini, Monique Smit and Casandra Hall, who are all currently competing in Europe.

Meanwhile the R17.5 million Joburg Open will be played at Randpark Golf Club from 25-28 November.

One of the City of Johannesburg’s flagship sporting events will begin a three-week stretch of international golf tournaments in South Africa that will be followed by the South African Open Championship (December 2-5) and the Alfred Dunhill Championship (December 9-12).

“The Joburg Open has always been an important tournament to the City of Johannesburg because of the role it plays in showcasing the city to an international audience. I am delighted to be able to announce this year’s tournament which, now more than ever, is an important tool in our role as a city to continue to help stimulate the South African economy amidst the COVID-19 recovery,” said Matshidiso Mfikoe, the MMC for Finance for the City of Johannesburg.

“We are delighted to also announce the Joburg Ladies Open at Soweto Country Club. The rebirth of Soweto Country Club and its hosting of a professional tournament of this stature has been a shining example of what golf can do to uplift our community.”

Last November’s Joburg Open, won by Denmark’s Joachim B Hansen, was vital in stimulating the restart of the Sunshine Tour and South African professional golf following the hard lockdown. Hansen’s four rounds in the 60s helped him to a two-shot victory over home favourite Wilco Nienaber.

This will be the 14th edition of a tournament that boasts a strong list of past champions including former Masters winner Charl Schwartzel, PGA Tour winner Branden Grace, and multiple European Tour winners George Coetzee, Richard Sterne and Darren Fichardt.

“We are extremely pleased to announce the Joburg Open as the first tournament on our co-sanctioning schedule at the end of this year,” said Thomas Abt, Commissioner of the Sunshine Tour.

“I’d like to the thank the City of Johannesburg for so graciously supporting us over the past several years. I would also like to pay tribute to the late Councillor Geoff Makhubo, the former Mayor of Johannesburg who sadly passed away. Councillor Makhubo was a very close friend of the Sunshine Tour and one of our greatest supporters who was passionate about seeing the Joburg Open succeed as a major international event for his city. Our thoughts will certainly be with him at this year’s tournament.

“We are also very proud to announce the co-sanctioning of the Joburg Ladies Open with the Sunshine Ladies Tour and Ladies European Tour, and to continue the important work at Soweto Country Club and this golf club’s role in inspiring a whole new generation of golfers.”

Keith Pelley, Chief Executive of the European Tour, said: “The City of Johannesburg has been a loyal partner to a Joburg Open tournament that has played a key role in our longstanding relationship with the Sunshine Tour. I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the City of Johannesburg, and also our condolences at the passing of Councillor Geoff Makhubo who was such a wonderful friend of this event over many years.”

Alexandra Armas, Chief Executive Officer of the Ladies European Tour, said: “We are delighted to add the Joburg Open to our 2022 schedule. Our sincere thanks to the authorities and the City of Johannesburg for supporting the women’s game. We have a longstanding relationship with the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the addition of a new co-sanctioned event will strengthen our collaboration and will impact positively on participation and interest in the women’s game in South Africa.”

12th May 2021 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Hall gunning for top spot at Westlake

12 May 2021 – Casandra Hall has Lee-Anne Pace firmly in her sights as she heads into the business end of the Sunshine Ladies Tour season, and the lucrative Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club this week.

A win at the Joburg Ladies Open in the fourth event and a runner-up finish in last weekend’s Dimension Data Ladies Challenge has propelled Hall into serious contention.

The 21-year-old Hall is 140 points and one place behind Pace in the current Investec Order of Merit, but with 8, 000 points on offer in the Ladies European Tour co-sanctioned event, this is the week where she has to rein in her biggest rival.

It’s the end of the Sunshine Ladies Tour. It’s the start of the Ladies European Tour. Any way you look at it, Hall is in the best position of her career going into this week.

“I really want to do well; I want to win,” said the in-form Glendower golfer. “On the one hand there is the chance to etch your name into Sunshine Ladies Tour history; on the other, the opportunity to make a fast start to the Race to Costa del Sol. There is so much on the line. It’s massive actually, when you add the four exemption spots for the U.S. Women’s Open.”

Victory this week translates into a pay day of just over R500 000, plus exemption on the Ladies European Tour for the remainder of the 2021 season and the 2022 season.

A strong performance could shoot Hall straight to the summit of the Investec Order of Merit, an honour which comes with a bonus prize of R100 000. And, if the winner this week is South African, she will bank an additional bonus worth R100 000 for Investec’s new Homegrown Award.

“And then the four spots for the U.S. Women’s Open; it’s absolutely massive,” Hall said.

“You have to be really careful not to get caught up in it all with so many incentives on the table. You can’t be thinking about that stuff on the first tee. You just have to make every shot out there the priority. But I’m determined to give it everything I’ve got this week and hopefully it leaves me standing in the winner’s circle on Sunday.”

Casandra Hall is targeting her maiden Ladies European Tour  victory in the 2021 Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club; credit Shannon Naidoo.

The former SA Women’s Stroke Play champion worked hard during the lockdown to ensure her game is up to the task.

“There was a lot of grinding and working on my fitness and making sure the game was in good shape when we kicked off at the Cape Town Ladies Open and I’m really happy with the outcome so far.

“It would be great to win this week. To be able to play all the events on the Ladies European Tour and not have weeks off between the events I qualify for would be a dream come true. And to win the first Investec Homegrown Award.

“But winning the Order of Merit says something special. You have to play great throughout the season. You have to have a lot of good finishes, which is what I’ve done this year. I’ve put myself in contention a few times. I didn’t miss a cut and I played really solid golf. I’m coming into the final event with a chance to do something not many girls get to do. There’s only one Investec Order of Merit winner each year. To have a chance is great.”

Hall is well aware that Pace will be pushing for the same result.

“Lee-Anne is in a familiar position and she is gunning for her fourth Investec South African Women’s Open title, so she will be motivated and tough to beat; fortunately I’m in position to chase her down,” Hall said.

Pace has certainly enjoyed a resurgence to form this season and nine-time Ladies European Tour winner broadcast her intent to chase down victory at Westlake loudly when she came within one putt of claiming a record 14th Sunshine Ladies Tour twice this season.

“When you play with Lee-Anne you really get a sense of her experience and the expertise with which she can shape the ball. She has only improved this season, and her toe injury is not a factor anymore, so I definitely expect her to be in contention,” Hall said.

“The biggest lesson I’ve learned this year is that you can’t do anything about how your opponents play. If someone comes out hot, you can only respond by playing your own best game. And you have to play the course, not the players. I’m in a strong head space and my game is feeling good. So that’s what I’m taking on the course this week. And hopefully it’s enough.”

#levelup (Sunshine Ladies Tour)
#RaiseOurGame (Ladies European Tour)

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