Cape Town - Three weeks into the sixth season of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, the Investec South African Women’s Open is inching ever closer.
The flagship event, co-sanctioned with the Ladies European Tour, returns to Westlake Golf Club in Cape Town from 14-16 March.
In a massive boost for women’s golf in South Africa, the winner this year stands to receive far more than just the lion’s share of the R2-million purse.
As a Ladies European Tour (LET) event, the champion will be exempt on the LET for the remainder of 2019. Victory also comes with starts in the final two Majors of the year - the Women’s British Open at Woburn Golf and Country Club and the Evian Championship at the Evian Resort in France.
With such incentives on offer, competition is set to be fierce, and the winner will have to hold off a strong field of local and international players.
With half the field coming from the LET, golf fans can expect to see the likes of Lee-Anne Pace and Becky Brewerton - both former LET Order of Merit winners - as well as past LET winners Astrid Vayson de Pradenne and Florentyna Parker from France and England’s Meghan Maclaren in action.
Three-time champion Ashleigh Buhai flew to Australia after winning the season-opening Canon Sunshine Ladies Tour Open. She tied for 11th in the LPGA Tour’s Vic Open and was joint 15th in the ISPS Handa Women’s Australian Open two weeks ago.
Buhai is competing in the LET Australian Ladies Classic this week, trying to continue building form for her title defence at Westlake.
“It’s always great to return to a tournament as the defending champion, especially when it is played on the same course,” said Buhai. “I love the Westlake layout and I can’t wait to defend my title.
“I played really nicely in the two LPGA Tour events and I’m happy that my game is moving in the right direction. I’ve had some positive results after the work I did at the start of the season and I am motivated for another good performance this week,”
Last year’s Order of Merit winner Stacy Bregman is also lining up in the starting-field at the Bonville Golf Resort.
A fourth-place finish at Westlake last year clinched the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit for the five-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner and she showed some great form at Irene, finishing second in the season-opener.
The 2019 Investec Property Fund Order of Merit stretches over eight Sunshine Ladies Tour events and is based on a points system.
The overall winner at the conclusion of the season receives a bonus prize of R100 000.
The top three placed professionals on the final Order of Merit will gain automatic entry into the 2020 South African Women’s Open and the champion will be granted a start in Ladies European Tour School Final Stage in December 2019.
“The 2019 champion will also receive an invitation to complete in one of the Ladies European Tour premier events,” said LET chairperson Mark Lichtenhein.
“The South African Women’s Open holds an important place on the LET calendar and our players are thrilled to be heading back to Westlake in the wonderful City of Cape Town after such a fantastic South African Women’s Open in 2018.
“We applaud the important sponsorship commitment from Investec Property and the City of Cape Town, which empowers women’s golf and helps to elevate the game and build champions. We look forward to collaborating with our friends at the WPGA, Sunshine Ladies Tour and World Sports Promotions on another successful event.”
Entry is free for all spectators attending the SA Women’s Open from March 14-16, 2019 at Westlake Golf Club.