SuperSport Challenge champion Monique Smit with Sunshine CE Selwyn Nathan and WPGA Chairman Margie Whitehouse Photo: Catherine Kotze/SASPA
JOHANNESBURG (7 March 2014) – Monique Smit confirmed her status as one of South Africa’s emerging talents when she claimed her second Sunshine Ladies Tour victory in the SuperSport Challenge at Observatory Golf Club on Friday.
Three weeks ago, Smit held off a spirited challenge from Ladies European Tour (LET) winner Ashleigh Simon at the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am in George. Today, the Southern Cape golfer kept Lee-Anne Pace at bay to claim the title of the sixth event in the Chase to the Investec Cup series by one shot. Smit carded rounds of 71 and 68 for a winning total of five-under-par 139, while eight-time LET champion Pace matched her four under 68 to take sole second.
Stacy Bregman and Simon were the only other two players to finish in red figures. Bregman finished fourth on one under 143 behind overnight leader, Nobuhle Dlamini from Swaziland, who signed for a 72, while Simon bettered her opening 76 by six shots to slot into eighth on two over.
Smit was delighted with her win, especially after the frustrations at the Ladies Tshwane Open. “I’m really proud of the way I played and how I held up under pressure from Lee-Anne,” she said. “It’s been a tough week with the suspension and delays at Copperleaf and we were really worried that we would lose this event when Zwartkops was flooded."
“The ladies did a great job to secure Observatory and for Llewellyn Thomas and his green staff here did the most amazing job to get this course into shape. I just can’t thank them enough stepping up to host us, and for chance to claim my second pro title.”
Smit began the final round one shot off the pace, but signalled her intentions with an eagle at the par-five second. Although she dropped a shot at the third, the eagle set the tone for her game plan for the day. “This course is incredibly tight, but if you commit to aggressive lines, you can make birdies,” she said. “If you’re accurate off the tee and attack the pins, chances are you’ll make birdies to reverse mistakes. So I made a conscious decision to be aggressive."
“I nailed a pair of birdies at the seventh and eighth, and turned in three under. I knew the game plan was working, so I just stuck with it, even if I dropped a shot here and there.” Smit dipped to five under par with a birdie at the 10th, and hit a soft wedge into the postage stamp green at the 15th to set up birdie number four at the 120 meter par-three.
“I boxed the putt and I knew I was leading, but Lee-Anne was breathing down my neck,” said Smit. Pace, meanwhile, cancelled a bogey at the first with a birdie at the third and reeled in three more gains from the fifth to turn in four under. She birdied the 11th to close the gap on Smit, but lost the advantage immediately when she dropped a shot at the next hole. Pace couldn’t convert for another birdie, though, and Smit held a two shot lead coming down 18.
“Lee-Anne hit her approach just a foot past the pin, but I stood three feet right of her in the fairway and faced a ball that was lying at least a foot below my feet,” Smit said. “I had no idea how it would come out, but I wasn’t surprised when I ended up right of the green. My chip shot caught a weird little bounce and I was left with a tricky three-footer for par. Lee-Anne’s putt ended just short of the hole, so I knew I had two putts to win."
“But I never expected the putt to curl that far right. It wasn’t pretty, but thank goodness scorecards don’t have pictures on them. All that matters in the end is the win.” With this win, Smit vaulted to the top of the standings in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies.
“I’m definitely going to gun for a hat trick at Blue Valley in our final event,” said Smit. “Ashleigh (Simon) and I are both sitting on two wins, so it’s definitely going to be exciting.”
Pace, who vaulted to seventh in the standings, will miss the seventh and final event in the series to compete in the LET’s €450,000 Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco. The former European number one hopes she has done enough to earn a spot in the Investec Cup for Ladies. “There are a number of girls behind me, who are also going to Morrocco, but quite a few that could challenge in the last event and push me out of the top 10. Not much I can do about that, but if I make it, I’m going all out to win the Investec Cup for Ladies. I’ll be coming off four rounds in Morocco, so I’ll be fresh and ready to challenge. Just got to make the field, first.”
The final R100,000 Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies will be contested at Blue Valley Golf & Country Estate, whereafter the leading 10 professionals on the Order of Merit will qualify for the R300,000 Investec Cup for Ladies at the Millvale Private Retreat & Lost City Golf Course from 21-23 March.