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Ken Borland



One could tell Venter was poised for big things … and she delivers with Royal Cape win 0

Posted on June 07, 2024 by Ken

CAPE TOWN – Judging by her two previous appearances on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, one could tell young Gabrielle Venter was poised for big things and the 19-year-old duly delivered on Friday when she won the Standard Bank Ladies Open in a thrilling battle with the experienced Kylie Henry at Royal Cape Golf Club.

Venter had finished tied-fifth in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am and second in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge earlier this season, and on Friday she showed her enormous talent and mettle by shooting a superb four-under-par 70 to finish on nine-under-par.

It was enough to overtake 37-year-old Henry, a two-time Ladies European Tour winner, who had led after the first two rounds but could only post a level-par 74 on the final day, finishing on eight-under.

While the victory might not have been a big surprise for followers of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, Venter said afterwards she had no inkling her maiden professional win was on the cards until she was on the 18th green.

“Honestly I was not focusing on the win at all because if you do that too much then you lose focus on the actual golf,” Venter said. “So I didn’t know what the scores were at all, I was just focused on my own game. I felt my game was in place to win, but if it didn’t happen then I would just wait for the next time.

“The first time I saw a scoreboard was when I was putting on 18, I missed the birdie putt and then you expect the best from your opponent and I was ready for a playoff with Kylie.”

While Henry had the misfortune to bogey the last two holes, she had played a full part in cultivating an exceptional final day in the R600 000 event. The Scotswoman recovered from a a double-bogey on the par-four first hole, while Venter made birdie to immediately catch up with the leader; Henry regained the sole lead with a birdie on the third hole and she matched Venter’s four on the par-five fifth.

The lead switched on the sixth hole, however, as Venter birdied the par-four and Henry dropped a shot. Both golfers birdied the par-five seventh, but they were level again when the Bloemfontein Golf Club representative three-putted the par-three eighth.

But she regained the lead with a birdie on the ninth, before Henry pulled level again with a birdie on the par-five 11th. Venter struck back with a birdie on the 12th, but another three-putt on a par-three followed as both golfers left the 13th green on nine-under-par.

Henry birdied the par-five 14th to lead again, but Venter’s birdie-bogey-par finish was enough to pip the Investec Order of Merit leader, who closed par-bogey-bogey.

While Venter’s pure ball-striking off the tee deserted her a bit in the closing stages, she made a lot of key putts and her short game was amazing. While the back nine was a little unkind to her, she showed impressive patience to pull off the win.

“It was quite a struggle on the back nine, but for the entire season my all-round game has been good. This win really means a lot to me because it puts me into a position to win the order of merit, which I really want to do.

“I will also take a lot of confidence into the co-sanctioned events – the SA Open and the Joburg Open – and I’ve learnt that every shot counts at this level. Now I know I can win here. This tour is a great tool to do well enough to be invited overseas and play against the best,” Venter said.

Emie Peronnin of France shared second with Henry after shooting a fantastic 70 that kept the pressure on the two leaders to not slip up.

Bregman eager to mount strong defence of title 0

Posted on May 31, 2024 by Ken

The Sunshine Ladies Tour returns to the Western Cape this week with the Standard Bank Ladies Open at Royal Cape Golf Club and stalwart Stacy Bregman is eager to continue the steady improvement she has shown this season and mount a strong defence of her title.

Bregman claimed her sixth Sunshine Ladies Tour title in April last year when she won the tournament at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington’s West Course, beating Lee-Anne Pace in a playoff. She began this year’s campaign by missing the cut in the Dimension Data Pro-Am at Fancourt, but then finished tied-38th in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge at Lost City and then tied-19th in last week’s Fidelity ADT Ladies Challenge at Blue Valley Golf Estate, where she was in contention for the title before shooting 75 in the final round.

The 37-year-old Bregman says her game is really starting to come together.

“I do feel like I’m starting to find the keys to my game again, even though I wasn’t playing that well at first. But I’ve felt it coming together and my results have been getting better and better,” Bregman said.

“I’m in a good space, my game is trending in the right direction and I’m feeling good. I’ve been putting really well this year, but I could be a bit better off the tees.

“And you’ve got to be good off the tees at Royal Cape, because it’s quite tight and old-school. It’s about positioning yourself and putting well, but it gets really tricky, especially if there are winds, if you’re not in the right positions,” Bregman said.

Royal Cape is the oldest golf course in South Africa and much restoration work has been done in recent years with the original design of Charles Murray and the indigenous landscape at front of mind. The course is built on sandy fynbos plains, but hectares of the endemic Cape Flats vegetation has been lost to the pressures of urbanisation, so Royal Cape have embarked on a program of bolstering the endangered locally-adapted flora.

Although relatively flat, Royal Cape is a challenging course that has 58 bunkers and six holes that feature water. The parklands layout, with Table Mountain looming over it, is exposed to the famous Cape Doctor, the south-easterly wind which is a near-constant obstacle when it comes to finding the tree-lined fairways. It has hosted the South African Open for men 10 times.

The Sunshine Ladies Tour has seen strong competition this season with three different winners thus far – Kylie Henry, Tvesa Malik and Helen Kreuzer – and all three of them are in the field again this week.

The trio come from Scotland, India and Germany respectively, showing the greater interest from overseas that the tour is generating. But South Africa also has some amazing talents to keep an eye on and Kiera Floyd, Gabrielle Venter, Nicole Garcia, Cara Gorlei, Tandi McCallum, Nadia van der Westhuizen and Bregman herself are all capable of winning the R600 000 Standard Bank Ladies Open.

SA pros eager to grab silverware after overseas conquest 0

Posted on May 07, 2024 by Ken

CENTURION, Gauteng – South Africa’s Sunshine Ladies Tour professionals are eager to grab the silverware after the overseas contingent’s conquest of the opening two tournaments this season, when the third event, the Fidelity ADT Ladies Challenge, gets underway at Blue Valley Golf Estate from Wednesday.

Scotland’s Kylie Henry opened the season with victory in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am at Fancourt, and India’s Tvesa Malik then triumphed at the SuperSport Ladies Challenge presented by Sun International at the Lost City.

Lejan Lewthwaite will lead the local challenge as the highest-ranked South African in the order of merit playing in the R250 000 tournament, currently in 16th position.

“It’s only a matter of time, I believe, before we have a South African winner this season. There are a lot of really good local golfers and this is only the third event, so we are still getting into the season,” Lewthwaite said.

“I’m definitely confident in the talent we have and any one of us can win this week. But there are a lot of European golfers over in South Africa at the moment, a lot of the top players in the order of merit will be playing, so it is still a very strong field. We will have to keep our games on point.”

Both Henry, who leads the order of merit, and Malik will be teeing it up on the Gary Player design, while Romy Meekers, Lauren Taylor, Ana Dawson and Helen Kreuzer are all in the top-10 of the standings and have entered this week.

Lewthwaite finished 20th at both Fancourt and Lost City and her autopsy of her performance so far makes her feel that a strong performance is around the corner.

“I’m hitting the ball quite well but things have just not gone my way yet. That can be the difference between finishing 20th or top-10 and even contending, you need things to fall your way.

“But the game is there and I just need to build some momentum and I’ll be on my way. I enjoy Blue Valley, it’s a very nice course and should be in good condition. It’s pretty open off the tees and I just want to play to my own strengths, which is a sharp short game. I read the greens well so I’ll be pretty confident around Blue Valley,” Lewthwaite said.

‘We are finding it harder to win at home’ – Pace 0

Posted on February 26, 2024 by Ken

FANCOURT (Western Cape), 14 February 2024 – “It’s nice to see the overseas support of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, it has grown a lot, but we are now finding it harder to win at home,” the prolific Lee-Anne Pace said with a chuckle on the eve of the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am that kicks off the new season at Fancourt from Thursday.

Played on the great Montague and Outeniqua courses at Fancourt, the tournament has a R2.5 million prize fund which 44 professionals are fighting over. It is the second year in which the ladies will play alongside the men’s event being held at the same time, on the same courses.

Of the 44-strong field, 28 are from overseas, highlighting the strength of the nine-event Sunshine Ladies Tour and the value it offers women professionals.

“There’s a really strong overseas contingent coming to play and the fields on the Sunshine Ladies Tour seem to get stronger every week,” Pace, a 14-tme winner, said.

“It’s a really good field this week and I think the scores are going to be quite a lot lower than last year. The courses are quite a bit softer than usual, and on the shorter side, so we can attack a little bit more. I think there are going to be a lot of birdies and as always, it’s going to come down to putting.”

There is an important pro-am aspect to the event, with 44 amateurs each playing with a pro in the team event. Pace, who won the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge at nearby George Golf Club in 2014, said the format will provide a fun side for the professionals.

“Nowadays we are so used to playing in pro-ams with all the Aramco events on the Ladies European Tour. So it will be quite a lot of fun to get to know some of the top women in business. I’ve made some really good friends from playing in pro-ams.”

Even though it is the start of the South African season, Pace is one of the players to bring some form into the event, having finished in a tie for 11th at last weekend’s Kenya Ladies Open, the first event of the new Ladies European Tour season. The 42-year-old shot a brilliant 68 in the final round to ensure she comes to Fancourt with some confidence.

“I felt really good on the last day and played really nicely. That’s after feeling really sick on the first day. So I feel I do have a bit of form on my side,” Pace said.

Compatriot Cara Gorlei also finished in the tie for 11th, and was leading the tournament before a 77 in the third round pushed her down the leaderboard.

France’s Anne-Lise Caudal, a two-time LET winner, is among the stronger foreign contenders, along with Germany’s Carolin Kauffmann, who finished fifth in last year’s Dimension Data Pro-Am and Englishwoman Lauren Taylor, who has two top-10 finishes in this event.

Former champions from South Africa in Stacey Bregman and Lejan Lewthwaite are also in the field.

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