Ashleigh Simon lit up the back nine at Zwartkop Country Club to open up a one shot lead on Monique Smit in the second round of the Ladies Tshwane Open on Wednesday.
The four-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion lagged three shots behind Smit at the turn, but served up a birdie-fest to complete the inward loop in 29 strokes.
A six under 66 rocketed Simon into pole position on seven-under-par 135, but if 26-year-old wants to pad her stash of trophies, she will have to fend off in-form Smit. The Southern Cape golfer enjoyed two podium finishes in 2014 and a flawless 68 left her hot on Simon’s heels.
“Monique has been playing great golf in the last two events and she is definitely a threat,” Simon said. “Although my ball striking has been superb since the Ladies Joburg Open, but my putting was poor, but I found something on the weekend. I putted really well; just need to keep rolling them in now.”
Simon started the day in joint second on two under with Smit, Liezl Klotz and amateur Kaleigh Telfer.
Overnight pacesetter Nobuhle Dlamini faltered with double bogeys at two and four and Smit pounced with birdies at one and three to take the lead, but Simon’s putter remained cold and she turned one under after a bogey at the par-four sixth.
The the first birdie putt dropped at 10 and another at 11. Just like that, her putting woes were over.
“I lipped out for birdie at 12, but I holed another birdie putt at 13 and I knew I was back,” she gushed.
“I realised that I was pushing my right shoulder forward, so I worked on keeping my shoulder under my chin on the follow through. It didn’t really come together on the front nine, but once I got those first couple of putts in the hole, the confidence was back.”
Smit kept her edge with a birdie at 12m, but Simon overhauled her with a hat-trick of birdies over the closing holes.
“I made a great par-save at 14 and lipped-out for birdie at 15, but I caught up with Monique with a birdie at par five,” Simon said.
“We played off the tips, so I hit driver and laid up with a three-wood. I hit a lob-wedge very close and made the putt. At 17, I hit eight-iron to 12 feet and holed the putt, but I thought I might be in trouble at 18 when I caught the fairway bunker off the tee. I had a pretty decent lie, though, and smashed a three-wood to 30 meters short of the green. I chipped to four feet and boxed the putt.
“It’s a great feeling to produce the kind of scores I know I’m capable of. I’m definitely going to push the boat out in the final round, because I will miss a few tournaments when I leave for Australia next weekend.
“Decent finishes this week and next week in the Cape Town Ladies Open will leave me in a strong position on the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies Points Standings to make the season-finale.”
The final round could well turn into a two-horse race between Simon and Smit, as England’s Rebecca Hudson and Telfer finished well back in a tie for third on 142.
Hudson – who claimed maiden breakthrough in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Houghton Golf Club last week – carded a 68 while South Africa’s top ranked Telfer returned a 73.
Second Round Scores at the Ladies Tshwane Open played at the Zwartkop Country Club on Wednesday, 3 February, 2016:
- 135 – Ashleigh Simon 69 66
- 136 – Monique Smit 69 67
- 142 – Rebecca Hudson ENG 74 68, Kaleigh Telfer (AMA) 69 73
- 143 – Maria Beautell ESP 75 68, Anna Scott ENG 73 70, Ivanna Samu (AMA) 72 71
- 144 – Laurette Maritz 74 70, Stacy Bregman 70 74, Liezl Klotz 69 75
- 145 – Alexandra Lennartsson SWE 75 70, Melissa Eaton 74 71
- 146 – Tandi von Ruben 76 70, Michelle Leigh 73 73, Carrie Park KOR 72 74
- 147 – Nicole Garcia 74 73, Bonita Bredenhann (NAM) 81 66, Kim Williams 72 75, Nobuhle Dlamini SWZ 68 79
- 148 – Alana van Greuning 74 74, Demi Flanagan (AMA) 73 75
- 149 – Zethu Myeki (AMA) 76 73, Lejan Lewthwaite 72 77
- 150 – Lindi Coetzee (AMA) 76 74, Chiara Contomathios (AMA) 75 75, Crystal Cooper (AMA) 75 75, Monja Richards 77 73, Caitlyn Macnab (AMA) 73 77, Francesca Cuturi 72 78
- 151 – Crizelda van Niekerk 77 74, Woo-Ju Son (AMA) 77 74, Cecilie Lundgreen NOR 78 73, Symone Henriques (AMA) 74 77, Hanna Roos SWE 80 71
- 152 – Zelda Smook (AMA) 77 75, Maria Roos SWE 75 77, Mae Cornforth 81 71
- 153 – Kelsey Nicholas (AMA) 79 74
- 154 – Sarah Blythe-Wood ZIM 81 73
- 155 – Larissa Du Preez (AMA) 81 74
- 156 – Casandra Hall (AMA) 77 79, Frankie Bosman (AMA) 78 78, Katia Shaff (AMA) AUT 78 78, Leanda Schulze 79 77, Virginie Roques FRA 79 77
- 157 – Carmia van Wyk 82 75
- 158 – Marguerite Pienaar 75 83
- 159 – Shawnelle de Lange (AMA) 78 81
- 160 – Henriette Frylinck 81 79
- 161 – Tijana Kraljevic 78 83, Anne Sophie Le Nalio FRA 80 81, Nicole Hannah (AMA) 84 77
- 162 – Kirsty Fisher ENG 84 78
- 163 – Elina Bergvall SWE 84 79
- 165 – Michelle de Vries 82 83
- 168 – Lynette Pretorius (AMA) 83 85
Photo 1 caption: Ashleigh Simon shot a six-under-par 66 to go one clear or the field on Day 2 of the Ladies Tshwane Open at Zwartkop Country Club on Wednesday, 3 February, 2016 in Pretoria. Photo: Petri Oeschger/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images
Photo 2 caption: Overnight pacesetter Nobuhle Dlamini faltered with double bogeys at two and four after blazing a trail to end round 1 by one shot on Tuesday. Photo: Petri Oeschger/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images
Photo 3 caption: Placed second alongside Simon after round 1, Monique Smit challenged the club-house leader for most of the second round, carding a five-under 67 go into Thursday’s final round one shot behind her. Photo: Petri Oeschger/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images
Photo 4 caption: Top SA amateur Ivanna Samu (pictured) ended round two one shot behind compatriot amateur leader Kaleigh Telfer for a course total of 143. Photo: Petri Oeschger/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images
With editing by gsport