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30th March 2022 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Pace in touch as Simmermacher leads the way

Two late birdies in her opening round lifted four-time defending champion Lee-Anne Pace within three shots of Magdalena Simmermacher, who stole a march on the field on a wet and windy opening day in the Investec South African Women’s Open.

The 26-year-old Argentinian made the most of the gentler morning conditions and fired in an opening salvo of four-under-par 68 pull clear of the field.

After a birdie start on the par-4 10th, Simmermacher plodded to the turn in pars, but turned on the fireworks over the last five holes, firing four birdies to transform her round into a field-leading effort at Steenberg Golf Club.

The 2020 Olympian finished one slender shot clear of Sweden’s Josefine Nyqvist and Alice Hewson from England, who also took advantage of an early start.

But unlike her challengers, the Argentine blossomed on her back nine as the wind gathered speed.

“I’m really happy with today’s round; I gave myself a lot of opportunities on the back nine, my front nine, but I only managed to make one birdie,” Simmermacher said.

“On the front nine I left myself chances close to the pin, and that’s why I ended up making four birdies on the last five holes. I played better when the wind got stronger. I’m not sure of the reason – maybe because you have to hit a certain shot, so you just focus on that.

“We played the pro-am with tough conditions so that was good preparation. I struggled on the greens last week, but I was still playing good and today I managed the pace better.”

Having given herself some time away during the off-season as she returned to South America, she has wasted no time in getting back to her best in 2022, giving herself a solid start in the Race to Costa del Sol chase. 

Augusta University graduate Nyqvist dropped only one shot on her opening hole but shot up the leaderboard with a quartet of birdies on her outward loop. Ten straight pars from the ninth kept her within striking distance of the pacesetter.

“Today was a really nice day,” she said. “I struggled a bit in the last two tournaments, but I’ve been working at it and trusting what I do, and I guess today it paid off, so I’m very happy. I did some technical work in the off-season, but mostly I’ve been working on keeping my mindset clear and trusting what I’m doing. I’m just trying to stay positive and live in the present. 

“The first nine wasn’t too bad because I teed off early, so I got lucky there. The wind picked up on the back nine, and it was hard out there. You just have to stay focused on every single shot. I just tried to hit the centre of the green and play par golf. I left some birdies out there, so I’m excited to go out and get them tomorrow.” 

Hewson, who broke through for her maiden LET victory in the 2020 Investec South African Women’s Open, was an equally happy camper after putting herself in a promising position.

She made a brilliant start with an eagle on the par-five 12th and sandwiched a birdie between bogeys on 13 and 15 to out in 34. Birdies on her 15th and 17th holes saw her pull level with Simmermacher, but not even the bogey finish could darken her bright smile.

“I’m very happy with how I played this morning. It was really windy out there, especially on our back nine, but I managed to control my ball height well really well,” the Englishwoman said. 

“It was important to hit fairways and greens just to give yourself a few chances out there, and I made the most of some of the chances I gave myself, so hopefully more of the same tomorrow. I have some incredible memories of my first LET start and win in 2020 and it’s great that I’ve finally been able to come back. I’m just enjoying every minute of it.”

Just two off the pace, lurking at two-under are Sweden’s Johanna Gustavsson, Anne-Charlotte Mora from France and Spanish duo Elia Folch and Carmen Alonso and Carmen Alonso, with a further seven players locked in on one-under, including 2021 champion Pace.

Level through the turn, the 41-year-old negated a bogey on the par-3 second with a brace of birdies on her 16th and 17th holes to put herself back within touching distance of Simmermacher.

She shares eighth with another former champion, Marianne Skarpnord from Norway, as well as

Lora Assad and 2021 Joburg Ladies Open champion Casandra Alexander and Lora Assad sit at level-par with last week’s champion Linn Grant from Sweden, among others, and the next best South African is reigning SA Women’s Stroke Play champion Kiera Floyd, who grabbed a share of 22nd with former Investec Order of Merit winner Nobuhle Dlamini on one-over.

29th March 2022 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Big guns primed for Investec SA Women’s Open

The cream of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and Ladies European Tourn have converged in the City of Cape Town for €300 000 Investec South African Women’s Open, which tees off at Steenberg Golf Club on Wednesday.

After the top-quality golf on display in the recent Joburg Ladies Open, here is a palpable sense of nervous anticipation ahead of South Africa’s flagship event, and the mouth-watering incentives the season-finale carries.

Not only will the game’s big guns contest the biggest purse ever on the Sunshine Ladies Tour (SLT), but a winner’s category exemption means your future on the Ladies European Tour (LET) is secured for the remainder of the season, and the 2023 season.

The field this year once again exudes class and quality, led by defending champion Lee-Anne Pace, looking to make yet another notation in the history books.

Pace recorded the first hat-trick in SA Women’s Open history since 1988 with a trio of triumphs at San Lameer Country Club in 2014, 2015 and 2017 and extended her legacy last year, edging out Germany’s Leonie Harms in a cliff-hanger finish for a record fourth win at Westlake.

With 10 wins on the LET, 14 titles on the SLT and a LPGA win to her name, the 41-year-old has experience in heaps and when you add a hat-trick of Cape Town Ladies Open titles into the mix, her affinity for winning in the Mother City and her shot-shaping skills in the wind, she is definitely among the pre-tournament favourites.

Reigning Investec Order of Merit leader Linn Grant is undoubtedly the most in-form player in the starting line-up at Steenberg.

The 22-year-old Swede not only won on debut on the local circuit but made it a brace of SLT titles in three starts with her wins in the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge and Jabra Ladies Classic. Last Saturday she backed up her top billing with a five-shot victory at Modderfontein to seal a maiden LET victory.

Two South Africans who are certainly due for a LET breakthrough are Investec stablemates Nicole Garcia and Stacy Bregman, who are both coming into the week in strong form.

Bregman, the runner-up in 2013, catapulted up the leaderboard with a final round 70 at Modderfontein Golf Club to finish joint seventh, while Garcia, third last year, claimed a top 10 in her first start of the LET season at the Aramco Saudi Ladies International, and tied for third in Johannesburg. Expect the local pair to push their games to the limit this week.

In the first three events of the European season, a number of young European rising stars raised their hands and will be keen to follow former maiden winners Alice Hewson from England (2020) and India’s Diksha Dagar (2019) into the winner’s circle.

None more so than Kristyna Napoleaova and Kim Metraux.

Respectively ranked fifth and sixth in the Race to Costa del Sol, Napoleaova from the Czech Republic tied for second in Jeddah and Swiss golfer Metraux edged Garcia, Hewson and Maria Hernandez from Spain in the final round of the Joburg Ladies Open for the runner-up spot.

Another up-and-coming golfer looking to cash in on a LET win is American Kelly Whaley.

The 23-year-old received an invitation into the Saudi event, where she fired a final round 63 to that featured eight straight birdies and tied the course record. A top 10 finish secured her a spot in the Joburg Ladies Open, and she extended her stay on the LET with yet another top 10 finish at Modderfontein.

The local challenge is further strengthened by multiple SLT champions Casandra Hall, Lejan Lewthwaite and Nobuhle Dlamini from eSwatini, as well as 2022 SunBet Cape Town Ladies Open winner Nadia van der Westhuizen.

City of Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis welcomed the return of the two women’s professional circuits to the Mother City.

“It is with great pride that l can welcome the Investec South African Women’s Open to the City of Cape Town for the fifth consecutive year. The City of Cape Town’s partnership with the Sunshine Ladies Tour is set to continue into 2023 after Council approved a three-year agreement, which is currently in its second year. Over the last five years, this collaboration has elevated Cape Town’s status as one of the country’s leading golf tourism destinations and we delighted to welcome the Sunshine Ladies Tour and Ladies European Tour back to our shores.”

A total field of 132 players representing 27 countries, including six amateur starters, will vie to make the cut to 60 professionals and ties at the 36-hole mark and have a chance to shoot for the lion’s share of the purse, and the biggest trophy in South African women’s golf.

Steenberg awaits those consumed with a desire to lift the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s flagship trophy, whether in swashbuckling style of Ashleigh Buhai’s final round march to victory in 2018 or the masterful manner in which Pace clinched her fourth title 12 months ago.

Entry is free to the 2022 event, but spectators are reminded that they must present proof of vaccination or a negative covid test, not older than 72 hours. All four rounds of the 72-hole tournament will also be broadcast live on SuperSport Channel 213.

12th May 2021 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Young guns set for Investec SA Women’s Open experience

12 May 2021 – Nine of South Africa’s future golfing talents are poised to soak up the experience of competing on golf’s biggest stage when they tee it up in the Investec SA Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club on Thursday.

Led by GolfRSA Elite Squad members Caitlyn Macnab and Samantha Whateley, the group of amateurs will be competing for the honour of etching their name on the Jackie Mercer Trophy as the leading amateur in the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s flagship event, co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour.

Macnab cut her teeth on the local circuit this season and not surprisingly, starts the week as the overwhelming favourite with two top five finishes and a victory to her name.

South Africa’s leading amateur was fourth in the Cape Town Ladies Open, second in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge and became the first amateur to triumph on the local pro circuit since Ashleigh Buhai’s SA Women’s Open win in 2007 with her breakthrough in the Jabra Ladies Classic at Glendower.

A niggling knee injury forced Macnab to withdraw from the Joburg Ladies Open, but the double SA Women’s Amateur champion says she is ready for the fight in Cape Town.

“I didn’t feel comfortable yet in the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge at Fancourt last week, but I feel that I’m back to full strength this week,” said the 19-year-old Serengeti.

“I am so excited about the week ahead. It has been an amazing experience to play almost a full season this year. The amount you absorb from playing with the professionals is difficult to quantify, but it definitely impacts on your game.

GolfRSA No 1 Caitlyn Macnab made history as the first amateur winner in 14 years on the South African women’s professional golf circuit when she powered to an eight-shot victory in the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s Jabra Ladies Classic at Glendower Golf Club; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.

“I have been really fortunate that Nicole Garcia and Stacy Bregman, who both play on the Ladies European Tour, took me under their wings. And my coach Grant Veenstra has been amazing, preparing me for the mental pressure on the pro circuit.

“It has been a huge learning curve, building experience on the Sunshine Ladies Tour and learning from the pros and I hope I can put everything into practice this week to finish the season on a high note.”

Whateley also arrived at Westlake with some good form.

Since the start of the season, the 17-year-old Country Club Johannesburg has risen to third in the GolfRSA Open Amateur rankings and second in the Junior standing, having racked up top-10 finishes in all her starts, including second in the Nomads SA Girls Rose Bowl Championship at the end of April and third in the ProShop Gauteng Open this past weekend.

Whateley hopes to give Macnab a run for her money, but her first priority is to get past the spectacle of her debut on the pro circuit.

“When Womens Golf South Africa offered me the chance to play this week, I jumped at it, because I think the experience is going to so valuable, but it’s easy to let yourself be intimidated by the occasion and playing with the pros,” Whateley said.

“I am doing my best to focus on the golf and forget about everything else. I think once I get that opening tee shot out of the way on Thursday, I will be able to treat this as any other golf tournament and play the course shot for shot.”

Recent Nomads SA Girls Rose Bowl champion Isabella van Rooyen finished 18th in the Cape Town Ladies Open.

“I hope I can do better in my second start on the Sunshine Ladies Tour,” said the 16-year-old Clovelly golfer. “I realised playing Royal Cape that I put too much pressure on myself that I forgot to play my own game. I’ve had the test run, so this week, my first goal will be to make the cut. And after that, just to stick to playing my own game and we’ll see where that leaves me.”

The other amateurs lining up at Westlake includes the country’s number two-ranked Kaylah Williams, former SA Women’s Amateur champion Jordan Rothman, Shani Brynard, Odette Booysen, Katia Schaff and mid-amateur standout Nina Grey.

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#levelup (Sunshine Ladies Tour)
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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour.

| Sunshine Ladies Tour

Three things to look out for at Westlake

With the start of the 2021 Ladies European Tour season just 24 hours away and with four spots up for grabs in the U.S. Women’s Open, here are three things to look out for at the 2021 Sunshine Ladies Tour season-finale Investec South African Women’s Open.

Home favourites gearing up for start of LET season

A whole host of South African names will be teeing it up at Westlake Golf Club including 2010 LET Order of Merit winner Lee-Anne Pace.

The nine-time LET tournament winner – who finished 51st on last season’s Race to Costa del Sol – has recorded five top-ten finishes on this year’s Sunshine Ladies Tour and hopes to repeat the success of her 2014 South African Women’s Open triumph.

At the Jabra Ladies Classic back in April, Nicole Garcia tied for second and has had a further top-ten finish on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.

Last year’s Investec Order of Merit winner Monique Smit has three top-ten finishes to her name this year, while Lejan Lewthwaite claimed third place at the Cape Town Ladies Open at the start of last month.

Another home hope is Casandra Hall, who has been in excellent form so far in 2021.

A ninth-place finish at the Cape Town Ladies Open was followed by ties for 14th and 7th at the next two events before the 20-year-old clinched victory at the Joburg Ladies Open and secured a joint runner-up finish at last week’s Dimension Data Ladies Challenge.


Recent winners buoyant heading to Westlake

South African Hall hasn’t been the only LET member to find success on the Sunshine Ladies Tour in recent weeks.

France’s Manon Gidali secured her first professional win at the opening event of the 2021 Sunshine Ladies Tour season. The 27-year-old holed a 25-foot birdie putt on the first extra hole of the Cape Town Ladies Open to triumph over Cara Gorlei.

Last season the French golfer, who finished 33rd on the Race to Costa del Sol, tied for fourth at the Investec SA Women’s Open and will be hoping to carry her good form with her.

Norway’s Marianne Skarpnord has also had a successful time while in South Africa, claiming joint seventh and 16th in her first two starts before winning the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge in a four-way play-off.

It was the 35-year-old’s 10th professional victory and her second on South African soil. One of Skarpnord’s four victories on the LET came at the 2013 South African Women’s Open and she will be hoping to continue the momentum built so far in South Africa.

Solheim Cup stalwart tees it up in South Africa

Another star teeing it up at Westlake Golf Club will be Sweden’s Caroline Hedwall, who has been an integral member of the European Solheim Cup Team in recent years. She has made appearances at the 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2019 – winning on three occasions – and claimed 8.5 points during that time.

Last season, Hedwall made six appearances on the LET and recorded two top-5 finishes, including joint third in the Omega Dubai Moonlight Classic and third at The Saudi Ladies International. She finished the season ranked 17th.

The 31-year-old also produced one of the shots of the season when she sunk a hole-in-one in Dubai. With the Solheim Cup just a few months away, Hedwall will be looking for a fast start the LET season in Cape Town.

11th May 2021 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Open season at Investec SA Womens Open

11 May 2021 – It’s Investec South African Women’s Open week in Cape Town. That means it’s the 2021 Sunshine Ladies Tour season-finale. It’s the curtain-raiser for the 2021 Race to Costa del Sol. And it’s open season for the 76th U.S. Women’s Open in June.

Westlake Golf Club was bustling with excitement during Tuesday’s official practice round as the news spread that South Africa’s flagship event has been awarded four qualification spots for the season’s second Major.

With only two players in the field already qualified – Celine Herbin from France and Swiss golfer Kim Metraux – the other 113 competitors lining up in the €200 000 Sunshine Ladies Tour and European Ladies Tour’s co-sanctioned tournament will go all out to punch their ticket for the Olympic Club in June.

One golfer hoping to book a flight to San Francisco, is three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Nicole Garcia.

“In 2014 I played the sectional qualifier at Buckingshire Golf Club just outside London. There were eight spots on offer and I grabbed one,” said the Ebotse golfer.

“I was so excited, because that year the U.S. Women’s Open was played directly after the U.S. Open at Pinehurst. I travelled to the US with my fiancée (acclaimed South African coach Grant Veenstra) and we attended the U.S. Open first, because he had some guys he coached in the field.

“Then it was my turn. I was only four months into my rookie season on the Ladies European Tour. I realised quickly that I was out of my depth. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, though; it really gave me a window into the world I have been working towards.”

With nearly 1 600 entries from 57 countries for this year’s Major in California, Garcia said South Africans has to step up in a big way this week.

“I’ve tried almost every year since, but lately we only got one or two spots in Europe, so it’s really tough. There are 24 sectional qualifiers in the United States and one in Japan, so this is a massive opportunity for us to get four Sunshine Ladies Tour members in the field. We simply must step it up this week.”

Garcia is champing at the bit to reboot her career after spending two years on the side lines.

“I spent the better part of the 2019 season on the bench due to hip surgery. I made a comeback to competitive golf on the 2020 Sunshine Ladies Tour, but just after last year’s Investec South African Women’s Open, the world shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s hard not to think what could have been if I hadn’t had the surgery, but I try to focus on the future. To get back out there this year and play again has been amazing so far and I am so ready to start the 2021 Ladies European Tour season this week.”

Christine Wolf – credit Tristan Jones / Ladies European Tour

Austrian golfer Christine Wolf has even more reasons to start the first event of the Ladies European Tour’s 2021 season with a bang.

The 32-year-old has an excellent chance of making Team Europe for the much-anticipated Solheim Cup this year. Wolf is currently tied 5th on the Europe Solheim Cup standings with LPGA Tour campaigner Carlota Ciganda from Spain and a fast start in the City of Cape Town could go a long way in gaining her a captain’s pick spot from Team Europe captain Catriona Matthews.

“I dream about making the Solheim Cup and that is one of the reasons I came to Cape Town,” said Wolf. “I’ve played every year, except last year. The tournament is always excellent, the course is always in great condition and the people in Cape Town are so hospitable and welcoming.

“It’s always a positive experience and with the added bonus of the U.S. Women’s Open spots, I wanted to start my season in South Africa. I am really hoping for a strong result this week that I can build on until Team Europe is decided after the AIG Women’s Open.”

The Investec South African Women’s Open will be played from 13-16 May over 72 holes, with a 36-hole cut to 60 and ties.

Two former champions will headline the local and international challenges.

Lee-Anne Pace, the highest ranked player in the field, will be targeting a record fourth victory and she is coming into the championship in hot form following five top 10 finishes on the Sunshine Ladies Tour.

Other South Africans to watch include Joburg Ladies Open winner Casandra Hall, SuperSport Ladies champion Michaela Fletcher, South Africa’s top ranked amateur, Caitlyn Macnab, who lifted the Jabra Ladies Classic title, five-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Stacy Bregman and last year’s Investec Order of Merit winner Monique Smit.

Marianne Skarpnord from Norway triumphed in a four-way play-off to lift the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge title at Fancourt on the weekend. It was her first appearance on the Sunshine Ladies Tour since she won the SA Women’s Open in 2013.

Skarpnord has some strong “wingwomen” in Solheim Cup stalwart Caroline Hedwall from Sweden, former Ladies European Tour winners Wolf, Herbin and Jenny Haglund from Sweden.

Other players to watch include 2021 Cape Town Ladies Open winner Manon Gidali from France, who tied for fourth last year and Maiken Bing Paulsen from Norway, who made her Sunshine Ladies Tour debut this season and currently ranks 8th on the Investec Order of Merit.

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

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