Former champs in pursuit at Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am
No less than four former champions of the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am hope to chase down a red-hot Lejan Lewthwaite, who opened up an eight-shot lead in the second round at George Golf Club on Saturday.
Just one week after she had to fight Tandi McCallum in extra time to win the SuperSport Ladies Challenge presented by Sun International, Lewthwaite is on cruise-control in the R600 000 Sunshine Ladies Tour event.
The 28-year-old Serengeti golfer began day two with a four-shot advantage and moved clear of her competitors with a four-under 68.
Unlike the flawless production in the first round, Lewthwaite dropped three shots in her second trip around the traditional Parklands layout, but she countered every bogey with a pair of birdies and knocked in one more for comfort on the par five 16th.
“It was extremely hot out there today and I really struggled with the heat, especially when we had to wait on some holes. I duffed my tee shot on the ninth after a long delay and had a bogey, but managed to make a few putts coming home,” said Lewthwaite, who leads on 10-under 132.
Defending champion Nobuhle Dlamini finished a distant second, but she improved dramatically on her opening 74 with a six-under 68 to finish alone in second on two-under.
With the action moving to the Outeniqua Course at Fancourt – where the eSwatini golfer holed a 25-footer for birdie on the final hole to win last year – Lewthwaite is taking nothing for granted.
“If there is one thing you can’t control it’s what someone else is going to do,” said Lewthwaite. “Last year Nobby fired seven birdies to come from behind and win. She birdied the last two holes to beat me by two shots. So no, I’m not taking anything for granted. If Nobby gets her eye in early and the putter starts running hot, she will definitely come for me.”
And Dlamini is not the Investec-backed Lewthwaite’s only concern.
Granted, Monique Smit (2014), Stacy Bregman (2015) and Lee-Anne Pace (2016) are 10 shots off the pace in a tie for third with American Jordy LaBarbera, but the trio share 21 Sunshine Ladies Tour titles – with Pace taking her tally to 13 two weeks ago in the Cape Town Ladies Open.
“I don’t for a minute believe I’ve got this in the bag. A bogey here, a double bogey there and an eight-shot lead can evaporate quickly,” she said.
“I’m just going to stick to my process. It’s something my mental coach Mark Fairbanks and I work on all the time. Play shot for shot, focus on making the best score on every hole, try to limit the bogeys and hopefully it goes well enough that I’m standing with the trophy at the end of the day.”
Among the quartet tied for third on level par, Smit produced the best second round when she signed for one-under 71. Pace carded successive rounds of 72, LaBarbera from Texas returned a 73 and Bregman followed her opening two-under 70 with a 74.
Bertine Faber – the last player to score three successive victories on the Sunshine Ladies Tour in 2016 – carded 70 to tie Vodacom Origins of Golf winner Casandra Hall (72) on one-over 145.
Lewthwaite will also have the added pressure of trying to win the R100 000 Pro-Am, sponsored by Cisco Systems.
Lewthwaite and Marj Davidson posted 68 to set the clubhouse target on 10-under.
A 67 from LaBrera and Madelein de Wet made it two at the top until local favourite Smit and Jenny Church combined for a blistering 65 to force a three-way tie at the top. Dlamini and Franci Coetzee were also on fire, carded 65 to move within two shots of the leaders.
PRO-AM LEADERBOARD (final top 10)
134 Lewthwaite / Marj Davidson 66 68; LaBarbera / Madelein de Wet 67 67; Smit / Jenny Church 69 65
136 Dlamini / Franci Coetzee 69 65
137 Nicollet / Nicci Taylor 71 66; Pace / Sharon Leith 68 69; Taylor / Mimi Franklin 67 70
138 Bredenhann / Linda Smith 72 66; Fletcher / Jo Morley-Joseph 69 69; Faber / Sandy Hird 69 69
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Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.
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