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23rd February 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Double Canon Crown for Garcia at Serengeti

23 February 2020 – Nicole Garcia celebrated a much-anticipated return to the winner’s circle with not one, but two dramatic victories at Serengeti Estates on Sunday.

The Ebotse golfer won the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge and led team Shooters to victory in the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Pro-Am title in a thrilling four-hole play-off at the Whistling Thorn Course.

Garcia opened her campaign on the 2,618-metre par three championship layout with a level-par 54 and began the final round one stroke clear of Brittney-Fay Berger. In-form Lejan Lewthwaite – already a two-time winner this season – was two shots back in joint third with five-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Stacy Bregman.

Garcia gave the chasing pack a glimmer of hope when she paid for an errant tee shot on the third hole with a double bogey, but she bounced back in style out aced the 165-metre sixth hole with a 7-iron.

She widened the gap on the chasing pack with further gains on 12 and 16 and sealed victory on one-under-par 107 and, despite giving a shot back to the field on the 17th hole, finished five shots clear of Berger.

It took a few more hours though, before Garcia and her team-mates Gabrielle Macdonald and amateur team-mates Abri Kriegler and Daren Hanekom could properly celebrate her third career victory.

Garcia’s birdie on 16 and a Macdonald birdie on 17 boosted the team aggregate to 17-under-par 199, matching the clubhouse target set earlier by Lewthwaite, fellow pro Tandi McCallum and their amateur partners Mike Honiball and Frank Neto.

“That meant a play-off on the 18th hole and The Shooters were excited, because we’d done well on 18 in both rounds; little did we know it would become a proper shoot-out Sunday,” Garcia said.

Both teams had chances to close out the win, including Kriegler who pushed a birdie putt past the hole on the first extra hole. “We tied the 18th hole three times, so they took us to the first, and that’s where we got the job done,” said Garcia, who holed a long-range putt for birdie and was backed up by Kriegler, who got his birdie effort in the hole at last.

1. Nicole Garcia claimed her third Sunshine Ladies Tour title with a five-stroke victory in the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge on the Whistle Thorn Championship Course at Serengeti.

“Gabrielle and I had such an amazing time out there with Abri and Daren. Our amateurs could really play. Abri’s handicap index is 13, so he made a big contribution with his nett birdies. Gabrielle didn’t fire in the first round, but she made five birdies for us in the final round. Daren is a member of the South African Disabled Golf Association and one of South Africa’s top ranked deaf golfer. He drives the ball beautifully and we were thrilled when he won the closest to the hole prize in the final round.

“What I will remember most about this tournament is the high fives, the first pumps and all the laughs. We had a genuinely great time out there and we were absolutely thrilled to be the first winners of the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge.”

In addition to the first place prize money Garcia bagged, the Benoni golfer also shared a R100 000 bonus with her partner Macdonald that Serengeti Estates owner David Nagel kicked in.

Garcia spent the full 2019 season on the bench following hip surgery to re-attach the labrum and to reshape the femur bone to fit into the hip socket properly. She landed her third Sunshine Ladies Tour title in her fifth start this season, which bodes well for the “big three” starting next week in the Joburg Ladies Open. “This tournament was perfectly timed in the middle of the season and it has been brilliant in terms of fine-tuning our games for the Joburg Ladies Open, the Jabra Ladies Classic and the Investec South African Women’s Open,” Garcia said.

“All three events are big-money tournaments and the last two come with some serious incentives. The winner of the Jabra Ladies Classic gets a start in the Jabra Ladies Open, which is the Ladies European Tour qualifier for the Evian Championship. And the winner at Westlake gets exemption on the Ladies European Tour until the end of 2021, and spots into the AEG British Women’s Open and the Evian Championship.

“The stakes are loaded. We all honed our short-games this week, and this golf course put up a huge challenge. It was very tough out there, and I think everyone who played this week, will agree with me that we are so much sharper thanks to this experience.”

Monique Smit and Kim Williams – partnering amateurs Dana Eitzen from Canon South Africa and SAGDB member Curtley Roberts – finished third on 205.

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

22nd February 2020 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Pros rule the Par-3 Challenge a proper test

22 February 2020 – Coming to Serengeti Estates after four tournaments on the trot, the top talents from the Sunshine Ladies Tour were looking forward to a change of pace and some good prize money on offer.

There was an abundance of friendly banter, rivalry and challenges between the 12 teams throughout Saturday’s first round of the new Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge, however, the 24 professionals and their amateur partners quickly discovered that the Whistling Thorn course is no walk in the park.

“Oh my goodness, it was tough out there,” said two-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion Nicole Garcia, who went around the par-54, 2,618 par-3 course in level par to finish at the summit of the professional leaderboard.

4. Top-ranked deaf golfer Daren Hanekom helped Team Garcia/Macdonald to the first round lead in the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge on the Whistling Thorn course at Serengeti Estates.

Garcia and fellow professional Gabrielle Macdonald from Scotland combined with amateurs Abri Kriegler and top ranked deaf golfer Daren Hanekom from the SA Disabled Golf Association to set the early target on six-under-par 102.

“This course is a proper test of shot-making and short-game skills and with the pounding wind and the sweeping rain, it was twice as hard. Birdies felt like eagles out there,” Garcia said.

Play had to be suspended twice due to dangerous conditions. During the second suspension, the round was halted. The first round resumes on Sunday morning at 6am with Team Williams/Smit in a strong position to dethrone the leaders.

Sunshine Ladies Tour champions Kim Williams and Monique Smit partnered another bright star SA Disabled Golf Association, Curtley Roberts and Canon South Africa Corporate and Marketing Communications Executive Dana Eitzen.

2. Monique Smit celebrates her amateur partner Dana Eitzen’s nett hole in one on the 15th during round one of the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge on the Whistling Thorn course at Serengeti Estates.

“We got it to six-under and had just hit our tee shots into 17 when the sirens sounded the second time,” said Smit from Oubaai. “Dana made a nett hole-in-one on the 15th and that drew us level with the leaders. There was a lot of teasing and joking in the clubhouse after, but if we can pick up one or two birdies on the last two holes, the challenge is on.”

Williams said everyone has been hugely impressed with the course.

“Most of the pros here played the championship course in the Serengeti Team Championship last year, but the par-3 course is new. It’s easily the toughest course we’ve faced this season. It’s really helping us to sharpen our short games.

“It has all the elements of what a really good par-3 course should have – elevated greens with lots of slopes, loads of bunker protection and it is really tough to up-and-down from gorse-like grass around the greens.”

British pair Jane Turner and Lauren Taylor, who played with amateur Tyron Groenveld and Ryan McClatchie clocked in on four-under.

“Everyone contributed to our score, which was really great. We had a huge amount of fun and laughter out there,” said Turner, who hopped a flight to Johannesburg just a few hours after her play-off victory in the SA Women’s Masters on Friday.

“This event is the perfect break in the schedule, because it falls after four straight weeks on the road and just before we start the last three, which are all big ones. I want to applaud Canon and Serengeti on partnering on such an awesome concept. It not only gives us an opportunity to just relax and have fun with our ammies, but we can push the reset button. And, coming from two weeks on the coast, it’s brilliant to have this to adjust for the altitude and the distances ahead of next week’s Joburg Ladies Open at Soweto Country Club.”

Serengeti member Lejan Lewthwaite – already a two-time winner this season – and her partner, former SA Women’s Open champion Tandi McCallum are also on four-under, but with three-holes to play in the morning.

3. Stacy Bregman and Serengeti Estates owner David Nagel share a celebratory fist pump during the first round of the Canon Serengeti Par-3 Challenge on the Whistling Thorn course at Serengeti Estates.

Stacy Bregman and Bonita Bredenhann from Namibia had the added pressure of playing alongside Serengeti Estates owner David Nagle, who put up an additional R100 000 to be split between the leading professional pairing.

The group will resume the first round on two-under with four to play.

“Talk about pressure,” joked Bregman. “Actually David and Tim (Kloeck) have been brilliant. The course is a lot tougher to play than it looks and we all had a bit of a shock at the start. It was a pity about the suspensions, because we had just started to find our stride.

“Dana and Dave have put a really great event on the schedule, not only because it’s a change in pace and there’s some serious money on the table. Your short-game determines your results. All the best players in the world have the strongest short-games and this course is perfectly set up to help us improve.”

TWITTER – @SLadiesTour
FACEBOOK – @sunshineladiestour
INSTAGRAM – @sunshineladiestour
OTHER – #itstartshere #InvestecGolf #sunshineladiestour #CanonRSA #WhistlingThorn

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