By Lali Stander
Dimension Data has announced a significant prize money hike for the 2016 Sunshine Ladies Tour Dimension Data Challenge that tees off in George on Friday, 19 February.
“For a third year running, Dimension Data has raised the stakes in the overall prize money on offer at the Sunshine Ladies Tour Dimension Data Challenge,” announced Sunshine Ladies Tour tournament director Pauli van Meersbergen. “The players will be competing for a purse of R350 000 and the Betterball Competition also received a momentous boost with prize money of R100 000.
“This marks a jump of R150 000 over the initial purse and the additional R75,000 for the leading six professionals in the Betterball competition is another massive incentive. Not only does the increases take the overall purse of the 2016 Sunshine Ladies Tour to R2.9-million, but the increases will also have a significant impact on the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies.”
The winner of the Sunshine Ladies Tour Dimension Data Challenge will bank a cheque worth R49 000 and receive 560 points in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies race.
Dimension Data Chairman Jeremy Ord said the company is proud of its association with both the Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour.
“We have enjoyed a strong partnership with the Sunshine Tour for 21 years through the Dimension Data Pro-Am and we were proud to extend that relationship to the Sunshine Ladies Tour in 2014,” Ord said.
“We are very passionate about golf, the development of our local players and our role in growing the sport in South Africa. It is really fantastic to see how the Sunshine Ladies Tour has taken off and how well supported it is by our country’s top players.
“The 2015 Sunshine Ladies Tour Dimension Data Challenge was a fantastic experience for spectators and competitors alike. We think that it is fitting increase our investment in the future growth of the Sunshine Ladies Tour as the Dimension Data Pro-Am celebrates its 21st anniversary.”
Defending champion Stacy Bregman (pictured) and 2014 champion Monique Smit welcomed the raised stakes.
“The prize money increases for both the championship and the Betterball Competition will definitely heighten the status of this event, but I also believe it also goes a long way in supporting the growth of the Sunshine Ladies Tour as a whole,” Bregman said.
Smit added: “With just two events after the Sunshine Ladies Tour Dimension Data Challenge, the points on offer in the Chase to the Investec Cup could be a game changer for the girls who are currently outside the top 10.
“This is definitely going to push everyone in the field to bring their A-game to George this week.”
And the news has South Africa’s top golf export Lee-Anne Pace on high alert.
With 560 points up for grabs, the Paarl golfer will need to be in top form in the 54-hole championship to protect her number one ranking in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies.
Ladies Tshwane Open champion Smit is just 230 points behind Pace, Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies winner Rebecca Hudson from Houghton lurks 378 points back, while rookie Carrie Park and Bregman are also within striking distance.
Park needs 343 points to catch Pace and Bregman needs 476 to overhaul the number one.
“The big goal for everyone is to make the top 10 in the standings to qualify for the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies Final,” Pace said.
“Everyone is going to chase those 560 points and since we are playing Kingswood, George Golf Club and Outeniqua at Fancourt this year, I will have to be at the top of my game over all three rounds to protect my number one spot.
But Pace is relishing the tussle for glory
“But I flourish under pressure, so I am really looking forward to this year’s Sunshine Ladies Tour Dimension Data Challenge. Looking at the current form of players like Monique, Becks, Melissa (Eaton), Stacy and Carrie, I think we are in for a very tightly-fought battle.”