Cape Town - Nobuhle Dlamini put an exclamation mark behind a dominant season with an emphatic four-shot victory in the R500 000 Joburg Ladies Open at Soweto Country Club on Thursday.
Her fourth Sunshine Ladies Tour victory - and her second win this season after her Dimension Data Ladies Challenge success last month - confirmed Dlamini as the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit champion for the 2019 season and earned the 27-year-old a bonus worth R100 000.
The big-hitting Swazi national carded a final round two-under 70 to triumph on a two-under 214 total.
“It’s a massive victory for me,” said a delighted Dlamini.
“I didn’t expect to win the Joburg Ladies Open, but I put in a lot of work for this season.
“Coming into the final event, I knew I didn’t have to win at Soweto to win the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit, but I really wanted it After the first two rounds, I knew I could win. The order of merit title would be even sweeter if I picked up a win. Two wins this season and the order of merit. I am really proud of what I’ve achieved.
“I was very excited about trying to win the Order of Merit, I think my performance at Glendower sort of sealed it for me, although it was still close. I knew I didn’t have to win the tournament to win the Order of Merit. I was really excited, but I still had a tournament to play. I’m happy to have won both.”
Dlamini began the final round on even-par with a one-shot lead over SA Women’s Masters champion Lejan Lewthwaite and two shots clear of Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie Casandra Hall.
She fired seven straight pars before dropping two shots at the par four eighth. Back-to-back birdies at nine and 10 took her back to level, and she erased another double bogey at the 11th with three birdies on the bounce from the par four 13th.
Dlamini finished two shots ahead of former South African Women’s Open champion Tandi Mc Callum, whose final round 70 earned her a runner-up finish and bumped the Parkview golfer second in the season-long points race.
Ebotse’s Hall finished solo third on six-over following a third round 76.
The round of the day - and the tournament - belonged to Lora Assad. The Johannesburg golfer scorched her way around the Gary Player-designed championship layout in 67 strokes and rocketed to joint fourth on seven-over alongside Monique Smit from Southern Cape.
Dlamini picked up her maiden pro win in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge, presented by Sun International at the Wild Coast just over a year ago and it proved a watershed moment for the Glendower professional.
“This season has been the best of my life, but the Wild Coast was the pivotal moment. That’s when I knew for certain that I could compete against the best and beat them. It changed my mind-set and I’ve just become mentally stronger since.
“I made changes to the preparation for my tournaments, and since that first win last year things have changed. I’ve been more relaxed. I trust my process and my decisions on the course. I commit to my shots and I feel much more confident.”
Playing in the heart of Soweto, made the double triumph even sweeter for the 27-year-old.
“When they first told us that the Joburg Ladies Open would be hosted here I couldn’t believe it,” Dlamini said. “I played here three years ago and it was not looking good. The greens were not good and the fairways were bumpy. It was like coming to a whole different course when we played the pro-am here on Monday. I was so pleasantly surprised and impressed.
“We owe a huge debt to Selwyn Nathan for championing the refurbishment of this course. The Sunshine Tour rallied the support of the City of Joburg, the PGA Tour and the European Tour, the R&A and sponsors like Investec, Dimension Data, Telkom, SuperSport and PPC Cement to create something incredibly special here.
“I know a lot of golfers who live in Soweto and who had to travel by taxi to go and practice at the better courses in Johannesburg. One of them lives two minutes away from the course. He came to support me in the first round and cannot wait to start practicing here.
“Selwyn, together with the sponsors have created jobs here and a fantastic legacy for the people of Soweto. The course is young, but already a great layout. It will just get better and better, and I really believe this is a championship course.”
GolfRSA Elite Squad member Zethu Myeki carded rounds of 80, 76 and 73 to claim the leading amateur honours on 13-over. The Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member tied for 13th with Lewthwaite, who finished third on the order of merit after closing with a final round 84.
Kim Williams finished fourth and Hall fifth to make it an all-Southern-African sweep of the top-five in the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit.
All competitors RSA unless otherwise specified and amateurs indicated as AMA
214 - Nobuhle Dlamini (SWZ) 72 72 70
218 - Tandi McCallum 76 72 70
222 - Casandra Hall 73 73 76
223 - Lora Assad 82 74 67, Monique Smit 77 73 73
224 - Stacy Bregman 75 75 74, Yolanda Duma 79 71 74
226 - Shawnelle de Lange 76 77 73
227 - Bonita Bredenhann (NAM) 76 75 76, Tvesa Malik (IND) 73 76 78, Lenanda van der Watt 75 74 78
228 - Brittney-Fay Berger 74 80 74
229 - Zethu Myeki AMA 80 76 73, Lindi Coetzee 80 75 74, Tara Griebenow AMA 76 79 74, Dominique Jacobs 77 77 75, Bertine Faber 75 78 76, Lejan Lewthwaite 72 73 84
231 - Moa Folke (SWE) 79 80 72, Laurette Maritz 80 78 73, Kelsey Nicholas 77 80 74, Kyle Roig (PUR) 79 76 76, Alana van Greuning 78 76 77
232 - Nadia van der Westhuizen AMA 79 76 77, Kim Williams 76 78 78
233 - Siviwe Duma 81 76 76, Crizelda van Niekerk 77 77 79, Lara Weinstein 81 71 81
234 - Georgia Oboh (NGA) 80 79 75, Sunelle von Molendorff 77 79 78
235 - Millie Saroha (IND) 81 77 77
238 - Chiara Contomathios 82 78 78
244 - Nicole Becker 83 79 82
Final Investec Property Fund Order of Merit (top 20 – events in brackets)
1. Nobuhle Dlamini (SWZ) - 2 247 (9)
2. Tandi Mc Callum - 1 115 (9)
3. Lejan Lewthwaite - 1 107 (7)
4. Kim Williams - 862 (9)
5. Casandra Hall - 787 (9)
6. Anne-Lise Caudal (FRA) - 704 (6)
7. Lora Assad - 679 (9)
8. Monique Smit - 633 (9)
9. Jane Turner (SCO) - 632 (5)
10. Stacy Bregman - 532 (4)
11. Ivanna Samu - 529 (5)
12. Kiran Matharu (ENG) - 519 (8)
13. Bertine Faber - 487 (9)
14. Lauren Taylor (ENG) - 385 (5)
15. Hannah McCook (SCO) - 382 (4)
16. Brittney-Fay Berger - 367 (8)
17. Bonita Bredenhann (NAM) - 346 (9)
18. Pasqualle Coffa (NED) - 312 (7)
19. Shawnelle de Lange - 311 (8)
20. Maria Beautell (ESP) - 297 (5)