LET- Investec South African Women's Open Preview
8th - 10th March 2018
Westlake Golf Club
After 5 weeks in Australia it is now time for the Ladies European Tour (LET) to move to South Africa for the Investec South African Women's Open. The event has returned to the Ladies European Tour schedule after an absence of three years. The tournament is jointly sanctioned with the Sunshine Ladies Tour.
A number of players have made the trip from Australia to play in South Africa along with a mix of local players who are playing in their final tournament of the Sunshine Tour's Order of Merit (OofM), so it should be an exciting week in South Africa at the Westlake Golf Club just outside Cape Town.
After 4 different winners from 4 different countries, this week sees yet another very open contest. There is no better place to start the round up than with Lee-Anne Pace. The home favorite is looking to win her fourth straight Investec South African Women’s Open. “It would be such an honor to win another South African Open. It is a goal of mine every year to defend this title and I really hope to do so again. We have a strong field playing, so it is going to be tough, but I will be out there giving it my best. “I don’t get many opportunities to play at home, let alone in front of family and friends, so it will be a real treat. Their support means the world to me and I would not have been where I am in my life without them.” said Pace. The nine-time LET winner, who won the LET OofM in 2010 has had a solid start to 2018 winning the Cape Town Ladies Open in February and a 62nd place finish on the LPGA Tour in the Australian Open.
Meghan MacLaren may have picked up her first win on the LET last week, however, two of the players she beat into 2nd have made the journey to compete here this week.
Silvia Banon (below) has had a great start to the season alongside 2nd last week (her career best finish) she had a 15th place finish at the ActewAGL Canberra Classic. Banon, 25 from Alicante looks set to continue her good form this season after 5th place finish at Q school last year to earn her place on tour this year. Banon, came up just 2 shots short last week and will look to go one better here.
Also 2nd last week was Norweigan Marita Engzelius. Marita may be an LET rookie, but she has plenty of experience. She played on the LPGA in 2013 and following that played for four years on the Symetra Tour, where she won the 2014 Symetra Tour Championship. When the updated Rolex Rankings were released on Monday, Marita, was the biggest mover in the world, moving up an incredible 365 places into 505th spot.
Two other players who have had a successful spell in Australia are Valdis Thora Jonsdottir and Manon Molle (below). Manon a Q school graduate was leading after round 1 last week alongside Banon before a couple of rounds where she just never got going. However, she has had 3 top 25s already this year! Molle will be looking to emulate fellow French player Camille Chevalier who won the 2017 Rookie of the Year.
Valdis, from Iceland has also had some good finishes so far. She had a career best finish at the Ladies Classic at Bonville Golf club where she came 3rd. When asked of her ambitions this year she said “Obviously I would like to win on the LET. It would be a great honor to get on the Solheim Cup team: that would be really fun!” She looks set to build on her strong start to 2018 and challenge for her first LET title.
There are a number of players who have had a good season in South Africa on the Sunshine Ladies Tour. None more so than Nobuhle Dlamini (abov. The golfer from Swaziland picked up her maiden victory last week at the Supersport Ladies Challenge. It was a fully deserved victory as she had been runner up too many times to mention. After her victory last week she said "this means a lot to me, i'm already looking forward to many many more victories ". I won a lot as an amateur, but it had been too long since my last win so I needed to win to know I could still do it. It’s the beginning of a good journey for me. I hope it will open many doors in terms of sponsorships and getting into other bigger tournaments.” Nobulhe has had a consistent season and sits 2nd on the OofM.
Leading the OofM race is South African Stacy Bregman (below). She has fallen out of form slightly with a 24th and 76th in her last two tournaments but before her dip in form she had 6 top 4 finishes. Bregman won the opening event of the season at the Canon Ladies Tshwane Open and looks set to bounce back to form here.
Fellow South African Ashleigh Buhai has to be considered. Ashleigh won the Joburg Ladies Open earlier in the season and finished runner up to Bregman at the Tswane Open. Ashleigh has also played 3 events on the LPGA this season with a best finish of 44th at the Honda LPGA Thailand event among some vof the worlds best golfers.
Last week we mentioned that Megan MacLaren was not performing up to the standards that were expected of her. What did she do? went on to win!
2017 Rookie of the Year Camille Chevalier, has not started the season well with 3 missed cuts and a 57th place finish last week. Camille will be looking to kick start her 2018 season here in Cape Town. Carly Booth (above) has only made one cut all season. The Scot has 2 LET wins to her name and will look for a good finish here. Finally 2018 has been a disappointing start to the season for Solheim Cup player Florentyna Parker. After her appearance for Team Europe and her victory in Australia last year she should be leading from the front and maybe this will be the week where she picks up her first top 10 of the season.
The LET rookies have started the season very well and it will be interesting to see how they get on this week. It should be an exiting tournament due to the mix of players that have been playing all year in South Africa, the rookies and the more experienced LET players who need to raise their games this week.
This Week- Silvia Banon (Esp)
Women's NSW Open- Casey Danielson (2nd)
Ladies Classic Bonville- Caroline Hedwall (16th)
ActewAGL Canberra Classic- Georgia Hall (3rd)
Oates Vic Open- Cheyenne Woods (34th)