South African top female amateurs have been selected to play in the Acer 5 Nations Commonwealth Tournament to be held at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Course 6-11 May 2007.
The major amateur women’s event previously known as The Commonwealth Tournament will be staged on South African soil for the first time thanks to sponsorship coming from women’s golf supporter Acer Africa.
Teams from Great Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand are set to compete against a very strong South African side in Ashleigh Simon (Gauteng), Kelli Shean (Western Province), Gina Switala (Gauteng North), Iliska Verwey (Eastern Cape) and 15-year old Bertine Strauss (North West).
Simon once again made the history books by taking the double for the third time at the recent SA Amateur Championship in both the Stroke play and Match play at George Golf Club.
Simon who comes fresh off her win on the Ladies African Tour of the Acer Women’s SA Open and leading amateur of the local tour, is joined by fellow teammate Kelli Shean who together with Stacy Bregman took honours at the World Amateur Teams Championship held in Stellenbosch last year.
Shean is no stranger to international competition having represented South Africa at The Spirit alongside teammate Ashleigh Simon, runner up at the 2005 Dutch Junior International, and local champion of the 2006 Southern Cape Open.
Shean also made her mark on the Ladies African Tour recently when she tied third at the 2007 WPGA Women’s Masters, and fourth at the 2007 Acer Women’s SA Open.
Gina Switala secured her berth, with her consistent performance over the past two years, in winning the 2007 Gauteng North Junior Championship, and second place at the 2006 SA Girls Champions.
“Our amateurs have been extremely well locally and internationally, and are very excited in hosting the event in South Africa for the first time,” says Caroline Kettlewell President, Women’s Golf South Africa.
“With our strong and experienced side, we have a very good chance of making South Africa proud and holding the trophy up high.”
Great Britain has previously won the event six times, Australia four times, Canada twice. New Zealand and South African have yet to post a win.
Great Britain also announced their side with three players from the 2006 Curtis Cup – Naomi Edwards, Breanne Loucks and Melissa Reid, and making up the balance in Kerry Smith, 2002 Curtis Cup, and 18-year-old Krystle Caithness.
Sue Turner, Captain of the Great Britain side said: “We have selected a relatively young team but one which already has extensive experience of competing at the highest international level.”
“I have no doubt therefore, that with the steadying influence of Kerry Smith, one of the country’s most experienced players, we have a real chance of winning the Commonwealth Tournament.”
Australia is fielding Sunny Park, a 21-year-old Lakes member, who recently won the 2007 Australian Amateur Champion against fellow teammate Emma Bennett and has been playing the kind of golf deserving of a chance to etch her name in the history books as Australia’s best female amateur golfer.
Canada has a very strong team led by a seasoned veteran of World Amateur Team Champion play, Mary Ann Lapointe having represented Canada a record eight times including this year’s appearance.
She is a four-time Canadian Women’s Amateur Champion and earlier this year was inducted into the Ontario Golf Hall of Fame.
Throughout her illustrious playing career, Lapointe has distinguished herself as one of North America’s top female amateur golfers.
New Zealand boasts Tammy Clelland who has enjoyed unparalleled success at amateur level in New Zealand and attends Toledo University, Ohio.
She participated in the LPGA Jamie Farr Owens Corning Classic after shooting two-under par 70 in tournament qualifier and is hoping to lead her team to victory this year.
Background to the Event
Teams compete for the trophy that was presented by Nancy, Viscountess Astor CH and the Ladies Golf Union in 1959.
The tournament is played over five days, whereby each team plays every other team on a round-robin basis, with the host country always playing on the last day.
Each team match consists of two foursomes and five singles, each played over 18 holes, with the foursomes in the morning and singles in the afternoon.
Mary Anne LaPointe
Yeon Song Kim
Da Som Lee