South Africa’s Amateur champion golfing sensation, teenager Ashleigh Simon has been lauded by her partners, after she carded a final round 6-under par, to take Team Lyons to victory in the fourball alliance section of the seventh edition of the Nelson Mandela Invitational on Sunday.
The 17-year-old Simon, playing as a celebrity, produced rounds of 67 and 66 to ensure that Team Lyons, lead by David Lyons, divisional president of Coca-Cola South Africa and bolstered by the professional duo of Omar Sandys and former Open and Masters champion Sandy Lyle, held off the challenge of Team Nathan (including Selwyn Nathan, Lucas Radebe, John Mashego and Adilson da Silva) by five shots.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better team,” said David Lyons afterwards. “They played terrific golf – I did come in on a few holes – but my job was to keep them relaxed and focused. I had to get on them a few times.
The Invitational golf tournament, in support of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and the Gary Player Foundation charities, played at the Arabella Country Estate over the weekend, and also featured Simon’s World Amateur Team Championship winning partner Kelli Shean, has been hailed a success.
“But it was a brilliant experience and what about Ashleigh Simon? Six-under today was amazing,” added Lyons.
Lyle was also impressed by Simon’s ability and predicted a bright future for the rising star.
“They hit the ball a lot further off the tee and they have a lot of confidence," he said referring to young golfers today. "The way Ashleigh is hitting the ball now I think you’ll see her name in the stars.
Simon added: “I was glad to be in this fourball and had a great time. It was a real honour to play with Sandy because he strikes the ball so well. It was a real highlight for me.”