Ashleigh Simon claimed her second successive Sunshine Ladies Tour title with a dominant four-stroke victory at the R100,000 Ladies Tshwane on Tuesday, without having to venture out of the rain-soaked Els Club Copperleaf clubhouse on Tuesday.
The 24-year-old Joburg professional won the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Glendower on Friday, and rode that confidence to blow away the opposition with a flawless six-under-par 66 and a four shot lead on Norway’s Cecilie Lundgreen, at the Ernie Els-designed layout.
Simon was declared the winner when tournament director Pauli van Meersbergen was forced to call an 18-hole result.
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“It’s definitely not the way I would have chosen to win, but Mother Nature had her own thoughts on the matter,” said Simon. “I did put myself in a great position in the first round, so I’m really pleased with the result, but it would have been great to get out there again.”
The unrelenting rain in the region that wreaked havoc with the Sunshine Tour’s Tshwane Open on the weekend, also caused play to be called off on Monday, leaving Southern Cape’s Monique Smit to return early on Tuesday.
“The persistent rain rendered the course unplayable on Monday and calling it at 17 holes was the only option,” Van Meersbergen said. “The course took a real beating on Sunday and Monday from the persistent showers and by 10h00 this morning, they had already measured nearly 50mm rainfall.
“We got lucky with a short break for Monique to complete her round, but with the forecast calling for the rain throughout the day and so much water on the course already, we really didn’t have much of a choice in the matter. We had to find a gap in the weather to let Monique finish in order to have a result.”
Simon was thrilled to add the inaugural Ladies Tshwane Open trophy to her mantle, but even more pleased with her performance in the last three events.
“I shot eight under at the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am, seven under at Glendower and six under here, and that’s the kind of form I want to take to my first start on the LPGA Tour,” said Simon, who will be teeing it up in the LPGA Founders Cup later this month.
“I am so thankful for the Sunshine Ladies Tour for giving us this opportunity. I had a poor start in Australia, but I started getting the feel back in George. The great thing about these rounds is that I’ve kept my bogeys to a bare minimum. The SuperSport Challenge will be my final event, so I’m hoping for two more solid rounds on Thursday and Friday.”
Like Simon, City of Tshwane Deputy City Manager: Strategy, Development and Implementation, Lindiwe Kwele, took a positive view on the rain-shortened event.
“We are very proud of the fact that we have extended our support of golf development to the Sunshine Ladies Tour, and we believe that rain is a good omen that signifies a blessing for our inaugural event and promises greater things to come,” Kwele said.
Kim Williams, who claimed the first Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Houghton Golf Club, erased three early bogeys on Monday to finish in sole third on 71. Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am champion Smit shared fourth on even-par with American Katie Burnett, Sun International Challenge winner Tandi von Ruben and LET rookie Nicole Garcia.
The tropical storm over Tshwane has also caused Van Meersbergen to look at alternative venues for the SuperSport Challenge on 6 and 7 March.
“Unfortunately, Zwartkop Country Club is also flooded and with the forecast for the rain to continue, we are forced to find an alternative venue,” Van Meersbergen said. “We have spoken to several clubs and hope to make an announcement on Wednesday.”
Final Result* from the rain-shortened Sunshine Ladies Tour’s Ladies Tshwane Open, played at the par-72 The Els Club Copperleaf on Monday, 3 March 2014 (18-hole result declared): 66 – Ashleigh Simon 70 – Cecilie Lundgreen NOR 71 – Kim Williams Par – Nicole Garcia, Tandi von Ruben, Katie Burnett USA, Monique Smit 73 – Nobuhle Dlamini SZW 74 – Stacy Bregman, Alana van Greuning, Henriette Frylinck 75 – Sophie Sandolo ITA 76 – Morgana Robbertze 77 – Mandy Adamson, Francesca Cuturi 78 – Maggie Yuan AUS, Michelle Leigh, Tijana Kraljevic 79 – Laurette Maritz 80 – Nicole Becker 83 – Alra van den Berg, Bonita Bredenhann NAM, Chevonne Botha (AMA) 84 – Michelle de Vries, Caryn Louw, Iliska Verwey 85 – Lauren Blease ENG, Rachel Drummond ENG, Maggi du Toit (AMA), Xanthe Gibson 86 – Nora Kagonyera NIG 87 – Nicola Eaton 92 – Jacqui Akers (AMA) * All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified, and amateurs indicated (AMA)
Main photo caption: Ashleigh Simon (centre), winner of the 2014 Ladies Tshwane Open on Tuesday, 4 March 2014, pictured with Selwyn Nathen, Chief Executive of the Sunshine Tour, and Lindiwe Kwele, Tshwane Deputy Manager for Strategy, Development and Implementation. Photo: Catherine Kotze/SASPA
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