Ashleigh Simon lit up the front nine of the East Course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club and produced a grandstand finish to seal a sensational six-stroke victory in the Sunshine Ladies Tour Open on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old Glendower professional fired a seven-under-par 65 to celebrate a superb return to form on a winning total of eight-under 136.
A three-time winner last season, Simon’s unprecedented fourth victory on the Sunshine Ladies Tour re-affirms her position among the prime golfers in the country.
“I’m leaving for the United States next Wednesday, and this win gives me a lot of confidence ahead of the JTBC Founders Cup,” Simon said.
“I finished my first round with three birdies in a row for a 71 and I got really excited when I realised I was only one off the pace. I did a lot of work on the mental game in the last couple of weeks, and I played well in the first round of the Cape Town Ladies Open.”
Simon’s challenge ignited at the fourth hole when she hit it close at the par-three and made the birdie putt. She missed chances at the fifth and sixth holes, but bombed home a 30-footer for birdie at the par-four seventh to keep the momentum going. She hit a three-wood to eight feet at the eighth and boxed the putt for an eagle three.
Simon pulled five strokes clear of the chasing pack after holing a two-footer for birdie at the 10th, but that cushion was reduced to four after a bogey at the 11th.
“I hit it in the bunker and hit a good trap shot, but I didn’t back up the putt,” said Simon, who rallied with two more birdies at the 16th and 18th to finish in style.
“It’s been a while, but when the putts started dropping half of it was relief, and half of it was satisfaction. I wanted a grandstand finish, and I got one!”
Simon will miss the season-finale Investec Cup for Ladies, but feels that she validated her decision to interrupt her schedule to come back and support the Sunshine Ladies Tour.
“I was determined to win at least one event before I go back to the LPGA Tour and it feels incredibly good right now,” Simon said.
“The sponsors have raised the stakes this year and the standard is even higher this season. It’s great to be able to compete at home and I am really happy to do my bit to help raise the profile of the Sunshine Ladies Tour.”
Simon will go head-to-head with Chase to the 2015 Investec Cup for Ladies leader Stacy Bregman and reigning Cell C SA Women’s Open champion Lee-Anne Pace in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge at Zwartkop, next week from 10-11 March.
Final Results of the Sunshine Ladies Tour Open, at the Royal Johannesburg & Kensington Golf Club on Tuesday, 3 March, 2014:
136 – Ashleigh Simon (RSA) 71 65
142 – Monique Smit (RSA) 73 69
143 – Woo-Ju Son AMA (RSA) 71 72, Bianca Theron AMA (RSA) 70 73
145 – Ivanna Samu AMA (RSA) 75 70, Melissa Eaton (RSA) 73 72, Nobuhle Dlamini (SWZ) 70 75
147 – Michelle Leigh (RSA) 74 73, Sophie Sandolo (ITA) 72 75, Charlotte Ellis (ENG) 70 77
148 – Cherry Moulder (RSA) 75 73
149 – Mandy Adamson (RSA) 77 72
150 – Morgana Robbertze (RSA) 75 75, Tandi von Ruben (RSA) 79 71, Lauren Taylor (ENG) 74 76
151 – Cara Gorlei AMA (RSA) 77 74, Lucy Williams (ENG) 79 72, Iliska Verwey (RSA) 72 79
152 – Kim Williams (RSA) 75 77, Rebecca Hudson (ENG) 75 77, Stacy Bregman (RSA) 81 71
154 – Hermione Fitzgerald (IRL) 77 77, Bonita Bredenhann (NAM) 79 75, Anna Scott (ENG) 79 75
156 – Katia Shaff AMA (RSA) 78 78, Monja Richards (RSA) 83 73
157 – Symone Henriques AMA (RSA) 79 78
158 – Nora Kagonyera (SWE) 79 79, Tijana Kraljevic (RSA) 84 74
159 – Sarah Bouch AMA (RSA) 78 81, Chiara Contomathios AMA (RSA) 79 80, Nicole Garcia (RSA) 79 80, Alana van Greuning (RSA) 73 86
162 – Casandra Hall AMA (RSA) 87 75
163 – Kirsty Fisher (ENG) 80 83, Virginie Roques (FRA) 82 81, Ethel Ruthenberg AMA (RSA) 82 81
165 – Chevonne Botha (RSA) 84 81
166 – Sarah Blythe-Wood AMA (ZIM) 85 81
168 – Anne Sophie Le Nalio (FRA) 86 82
172 – Lynette Pretorius AMA (RSA) 86 86
Photo 1 caption: Sunshine Ladies Tour Open champion Ashleigh Simon, who lit up the front nine of the East Course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club to produced a grandstand finish and seal a sensational six-stroke victory in the Sunshine Ladies Tour Open on Tuesday, 3 March, 2015. Photo: Catherine Kotze / SASPA
(With editing by gsport)