Monique Smit Photo: Catherine Kotze
South African rising star Monique Smit wants to make history at the inaugural Zambia Ladies Open Championship at Ndola Golf Club this week.
Smit tasted success on the recent Sunshine Ladies Tour and now hopes to shine as the first champion in the first ever professional women’s golf event in Zambia.
“I had a brilliant summer and I would really like to add the Zambia Ladies Open title to my victory list,” Smit said. “There will be more Zambia Ladies Opens, and more champions, but there will always be only one first-time winner. That’s why I’d like the name on the trophy to be mine.”
The Southern Cape golfer broke her duck at the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am and claimed the SuperSport Challenge for her second pro victory.
On Sunday, a second place finish in the Investec Cup for Ladies lifted Smit to second in the final Order of Merit, just R25,000 shy of champion, Lee-Anne Pace.
Despite brimming with confidence, Smit still expects a tough week in the R750,000 event.
“Tandi (von Ruben) has had an amazing summer, too and she will definitely be a tough to beat,” Smit said. “Stacy Bregman is in the field, too, bringing with her all the experience of the Ladies European Tour.
“Bonita Bredenhann from Namibia and Australia’s Maggie Yuan are also LET campaigners, and very experienced, and the LET rookies Kim Williams, Nicole Garcia and Nobuhle Dlamini, will also have something to prove.”
The highly rated cast also includes Rachel Drummond from England and Uloma Mbuko from Nigeria, who campaign on the LET Access Series and a strong line-up of local WPGA professionals, led by Francesca Cuturi, who finished eighth the final Sunshine Ladies Tour Order of Merit.
Other standouts include Morgana Robbertze and England’s Lauren Blease, multiple winner Mandy Adamson, Tijana Kraljevic, Alana van Greuning and Michelle Leigh.
Smit believes the amateurs destined for Ndola will also up the ante.
“I think we’ve all seen how the amateurs from South Africa have grown and gained confidence on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, so they could pose a big threat,” she said.
“Of course, the six local amateurs from Zambia will be playing for pride and honour. We don’t know anything about them and they will be playing to a home crowd. That could make them tough to beat.”
The local challenge will be led by the country’s top ranked amateur, Melissa Nawa, as well as Tara Allin, Lorna Mwenda, Kaela Mulenga, Celistine Nawa and Miliase Siame.
“The Zambia Ladies Open will be a huge stage for our other top ranked amateurs,” said Zambia Ladies Golf Union president, Moona Mwila.
“We are extremely proud to give them the opportunity to compete in the first professional women’s tournament. It is wonderful that they will have the chance to showcase their talent and to experience playing against such a high quality field. The experience will be invaluable for them and will benefit them for years to come.”
The 54-hole stroke play event tees off from 28-30 March.