Ashleigh Simon Photo: SASPA
Nothing adds spice to your game like a little TLC at home and that’s the recipe Laurette Maritz rustled up to claim a share of the first round lead at the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies on Thursday.
Not surprising, though, her early target of two-under-par 70 at Blue Valley Golf and Country Estate was matched by her former Women’s World Cup partner, Ashleigh Simon.
The pair finished two clear of Norway’s Cecilie Lundgreen and Lauren Blease from England, and three shots ahead of amateur Shawnelle de Lange.
After a career spanning more than 25 years, one might expect Maritz to take a more sangfroid approach to her golfing life, but the evergreen South African remains as tough as ever on herself when it comes to her on-course performance.
Patently unhappy with injuries negatively impacting her game, Maritz relented and put herself in the hands of local physiotherapist Caty Cronin and chiropractor Jaden Maze.
For the first time in recent weeks, Maritz felt her competitive self.
“I’ve been struggling with a lingering rotator cuff injury and a bum hip for a while and both have seriously hampered my swing,” said Maritz.
“Caty and Jaden both worked their magic and this was the first time in weeks that I could play more freely, and it resulted in a pretty decent score.”
On a tough scoring day, the seasoned veteran dropped just one shot in the wet and bitterly cold conditions to give herself a shot at victory.
“It’s difficult not to think about your injuries, because I wasn’t exactly pain-free and I worry about aggravating the injuries. Reeve (Nield) did a great job to keep my mind focused on the game. The shoulder niggled a little, but I could turn through my hips beautifully.”
Simon won the second Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Glendower, picked up her second win at the Ladies Tshwane Open and set her hat-trick in motion with a bogey-free round.
“I missed a few with the putter, but I’m pretty pleased with the result,” Simon said. “This is my last event before I leave for the LPGA, so I definitely wanted to give myself a chance to win.
“It would be a great confidence booster to leave with three titles to my name.”
Meanwhile two-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner, Monique Smit, has a lot of ground to make up after an opening 76, while Francesca Cuturi took herself out of the last event after an agonising phone call to the tournament organisers.
“I realised my score was wrong when I checked the leaderboard,” the Randpark golfer explained.
“We checked the hole-by-hole scores and we realised that I signed for a five, instead of a six at the par-five fifth.
“I’m absolutely gutted, but in this game we pride ourselves on our honesty and I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t report it.”
Ranked sixth on the current Order of Merit, Cuturi is still in a good position to make the field for the Investec Cup for Ladies, despite the disqualification. The top 10 available players on the Order of Merit after the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Blue Valley qualify for the R300,000 season-finale.