Valentine’s Day will signal a new era in women’s professional golf in South Africa when the champion of the first Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies tournament is crowned at Houghton Golf Club next month.
With the launch of the WPGA’s new Sunshine Ladies Tour just weeks away, top professionals Lee-Anne Pace, Tandi von Ruben, Laurette Maritz, Morgana Robbertze and Monique Smit, and LET rookies Kim Williams and Nicole Garcia, are among the country’s leading lights, set to fly the flag for South Africa against a host of international competitors.
“The Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Houghton from 13-14 February will officially mark the start of the Sunshine Ladies Tour,” said WPGA chairman, Margie Whitehouse.
“We are thrilled that so many of our top professionals have found a way to support the new Tour and will be playing in some, if not all, six of the tournaments throughout February and March and vie for a spot in the limited-field Investec Cup for Ladies.
“We are very excited to get the Tour off the ground and to give our members a local competitive platform with the help of the Sunshine Tour and our sponsors Investec, Sun International, SuperSport and Dimension Data.”
The format of the first six tournaments will be 36-holes stroke play with no cut and each event will offer prize money of R100 000. The Investec Cup for Ladies in March, however, is limited to the leading 10 professionals on the Order of Merit and boasts a purse of R300 000.
Former SA Women’s Open champion Von Ruben and Ladies European Tour winner Maritz will lead the local candidates in the first Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies and the Sunshine Ladies Tour Sun International Challenge, which will be played at Lost City Golf Course a few days later.
The South Africans can expect strong opposition from the likes of England’s Holly Aitchison and Lauren Blease, Hermione Fitzgerald from Switzerland, Italy’s Sophie Sandolo, Maggie Yuan from Australia, Swaziland’s Nobuhle Dlamini and Bonita Bredenhann from Namibia.
Although former LET number one Pace will miss the first two events, the eight-time LET champion joins the action alongside two-time LET champion Anne-Lise Caudal from France at the third event – the Sunshine Ladies Tour Dimension Data Challenge – in George from 22-23 February.
Pace and Caudal will also compete in the fourth Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Glendower Golf Club from 27-28 February, and the classic Parklands layout is certain to serve up just as much excitement as it provided during the South African Open Championship in November.
The final two events – the Sunshine Ladies Tour SuperSport Challenge at Zwartkop Country Club and the final Chase to the Investec Cup tournament for Ladies at Blue Valley Golf & Country Estate – will determine the field for the Investec Cup for Ladies, at Millvale Private Retreat and the Lost City Golf Course at Sun City respectively.
“The introduction of six tournaments that form a part of the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies culminating in the Investec Cup 2014 is wonderful and we are pleased to lead the way in establishing a competitive tour for professional ladies in South Africa,” said Investec’s Heather Casey.
The first six tournaments will also offer the country’s top amateurs the unique opportunity to showcase their talent while gaining invaluable experience by playing against top local and international players.
The 2014 Sunshine Ladies Tour Schedule: 13–14 Feb: R100 000 Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies (Houghton Golf Club) 16–17 Feb: R100 000 Sunshine Ladies Tour Sun International Challenge (Lost City Golf Course) 22–23 Feb: R100 000 Sunshine Ladies Tour Dimension Data Challenge (Oubaai Golf Club & Outeniqua Course at Fancourt) 27–28 Feb: R100 000 Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies (Glendower Golf Club) 6–7 Mar: R100 000 Sunshine Ladies Tour SuperSport Challenge (Zwartkop Country Club) 13–14 Mar: R100 000 Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies (Blue Valley Golf & Country Estate) 21–23 Mar: R300 000 Investec Cup for Ladies (Millvale Private Retreat & Lost City Golf Course)
Photo: SA number one Lee-Anne Pace is in the mix for the Investec Cup for Ladies tournament which headlines the new Sunshine Ladies Tour, kicking off at the Hougton Golf Club on Valentines weekend, and promises R900,000 in prize money across 7 tournaments in 7 weeks along with co-sponsors Sun International, SuperSport, Dimension Data. Photo: LET
(With editing by gsport)