South Africa’s Women’s World Cup of Golf team of
Laurette Maritz and Ashleigh Simon have modeled their challenge for this year’s
tournament on the success of Jake White’s Rugby World Cup triumph, who told the
Springboks that they would win the Rugby World Cup four years later.
And in their fourth appearance together in the Women’s World Cup of Golf, Maritz and Simon have been plotting their own ‘four-year plan’ at Sun City this week after having finished 12th in the 2007 edition, seventh and 16th in the previous World Cups.
Bookies have the South African team at 50-1, with only China at 100-1 given worse odds than the local pair, but these odds haven’t fazed Maritz, a veteran on the Ladies European Tour and South Africa’s leading women professional for well over a decade.
"When I look at what the guys did for the rugby, they played well throughout the tournament and put themselves in a position to win," says Maritz.
"It really builds confidence when you play consistently well throughout a tournament, and I think if we can use that same strategy we will be successful. We need to hang in their every day and build consistently towards the final day."
Consistency of selection was one of the cornerstones of White’s success, and the same consistency might be the crucial ingredient that brings success to Maritz and Simon.
The pair have enjoyed an unbroken partnership since the inaugural Women’s World Cup of Golf in 2005, and Maritz feels that they have grown a lot in this period.
"For the first few years we were finding our feet. Ashleigh was very young and nervous in the first year at Fancourt. We had a giggle about it this week. I remember her saying to me, ‘Lolly, can you hit the first shot’. But we’ve progressed so much since then."
Simon was just 15 when she made her World Cup debut, but Maritz says her partner will take it to a new level this time around in her first year as a professional. "It gives her a different motivation playing as a professional. She’s far more mature this year and it is really great to work with her."
Maritz has been a mother figure to her teenage partner during the three previous World Cups and she has been extremely proud of Simon’s achievements this year, which included victory in the Catalonia Ladies Masters on the Ladies European Tour.
"I had a feeling she would win in Spain that week. She really excelled in the final round and I was so happy for her."
With the tournament set to tee off on Friday, Maritz paid tribute to the Gary Player Country Club golf course, which she said would be a real test.
"The rough is a bit thick and Ashleigh and I are going to try and stay on the straight and narrow. It’s a good challenge and it ought to be with this being the World Cup. The golf course has a reputation to live up to."
Former Springbok captain Corne Krige will tee it up in the tournament’s Pro-Am on Thursday.
Krige will be joined in his fourball by The Bold and The Beautiful actress Kimberlin Brown, who plays Sheila Carter in the popular soapie.
Thursday morning, defending champions Paraguay,
hosts South Africa and
Bettina Hauert of Germany
will conduct a clinic at the Lost City Golf Course for players from the Acer
Girls Golf Programme, which aims to promote the development of women’s golf in
the rural areas.