All systems go for 2022

31 Jan 2022


South Africa’s leading golfers and emerging stars will aim to stake the first claim when the SunBet Cape Town Ladies Open tees off the ninth Sunshine Ladies Tour season in the City of Cape Town this week.

The homegrown talent will go head-to-head with the first international campaigners to hit South African shores in the 54-hole curtain-raiser at Royal Cape Golf Club from 2-4 February.

The City of Cape Town has supported the event since 2015, but this is the first year SunBet, South Africa’s premium online sports betting site, has joined the Sunshine Ladies Tour stable sponsors and partners. The collaboration meant this year’s purse has doubled to R400 000, making it an attractive drawcard to launch the 2022 season.

“SunBet has been involved in all levels of professional golf and we are excited that they extended their support to the Sunshine Ladies Tour,” said General Manager Pauli van Meersbergen. “It’s a great time to support women’s professional golf in South Africa, given the growth of the circuit and the heightened international participation we have enjoyed over the last two years. For SunBet, this event also represents a wonderful opportunity to entertain their clients and to expose more people to our amazing professionals, who really show them a great time during our pro-ams.”

Three-time winner Lee-Anne Pace – the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s most prolific champion with 14 victories since 2014 – spearheads the local challenge and the reigning Investec South African Women’s Open champion is well-supported by multiple winners Stacy Bregman, Nicole Garcia, Tandi McCallum, Kim Williams and Lejan Lewthwaite, fresh off her victory in the Vodacom Origins of Golf final at Sun City.

Seasoned Ladies European Tour champions Florentyna Parker and France’s Anne-Lise Caudal will lead the international posse, representing nine countries.

England’s Parker is yet to win on Africa’s premier women’s professional circuit, but Caudal celebrated a popular win in the 2019 Jabra Ladies Classic. However, having worn the bridesmaid’s tag twice in this event, the Frenchwoman will be keen to follow in the footsteps of compatriot Manon Gidali and make it back-to-back wins for France in the Mother City.

The “old guard” will have to content with a wave of rising talent, though. Last year, three rookies and an amateur stepped into the winner’s circle in the first four events, and the SunBet Cape Town Ladies Open could very well serve as the launch pad again for the youth to level up this year.

Former top amateur talents Zethu Myeki, Cara Gorlei and Nadia van der Westhuizen lead the youth brigade, looking to make a fast start to the 2022 season.

Former GolfRSA National Squad member Myeki represented South Africa seven times on the international stage, but her transition into the pro ranks was hampered by financial limitations and the Covid-19 pandemic. Myeki tees it up this season with the strong backing of Investec and the guidance of Investec stable-mates Bregman, Garcia and Lewthwaite and she signalled her intent with a one-two finish on the Vodacom Origins series in September last year.

Gorlei led the first two rounds of last year’s event and, having honed her skills on the Womens Pro Tour in the United States in 2021, the Capetonian will be keen to make amends for the play-off loss and lift the title at her home course.

Van der Westhuizen turned pro on the back of arguably her best amateur season as the No 3 ranked player in the country. Having cut her teeth on the 2021 Sunshine Ladies Tour, she was set to tee it up in the Ladies European Tour Q-School before the pandemic travel restrictions put paid to her plans. Look out for the Serengeti golfer to make an impression this season.

Caitlyn Macnab’s breakout season and her march to victory in the 2021 Jabra Ladies Classic to become the first amateur to win a professional title since 2007 has also fired up the amateur field, led by GolfRSA No 1 Isabella van Rooyen. The 18-year-old Clovelly golfer enjoyed a top 20 finish in last year’s event – her first start in a professional event – and was the only other amateur to make the 36-hole cut in the national championship. She will lead an eight-strong amateur contingent at Royal Cape, where she is also a member.

CAPE TOWN LADIES OPEN PAST WINNERS

2016 Lee-Anne Pace

2017 Ashleigh Buhai

2018 Lee-Anne Pace

2019 Carrie Park

2020 Lee-Anne Pace

2021 Manon Gidali

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