Casandra Alexander cruised to a six-stroke victory in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge at the Gary Player Country Club on Friday.
The 23-year-old signed off in style on Friday with a closing birdie on the 18th.
“I really didn’t want to miss the birdie putt in front of all those people,” said Alexander with a laugh. “I only had eight-iron in, but when the pin is tucked left and there’s water all around, anywhere on the green is good. I had 45 metres for the eagle, and I still left it short after hitting it as hard as I could.”
The victory starts her 2023 Sunshine Ladies Tour season in the best way possible after a solid 30th place on the Ladies European Tour’s Race to Costa del Sol last year.
The 2021 Joburg Ladies Open champion said she skipped the European circuit’s season-opener in Kenya, because she enjoys the Gary Player layout and wanted to start the season well.
“Of course, we all want the W, but sometimes winning is out of your hands,” she said. “I just wanted to start out with a strong showing so that I can feel good about going into the next Ladies European Tour event, and the co-sanctioned tournaments later on in the season here in South Africa.”
It was a solid shout-out by a player who is becoming more and more difficult to beat.
After her second-round five-under-par 67, catching Alexander was always going to be a problem for her pursuers as she carried a five-stroke lead into the final round. An early birdie on the par-five 1st underlined just how difficult it would be to hunt her down, and so it proved, as she kept mistakes to a minimum on the challenging championship layout, with just one dropped shot on each of the nines; one on the par-four 6th and the other on the par-three 16th.
“The bogeys were very soft drops,” said the 23-year-old. “Honestly, I’d rather make a good bogey than a soft one because they hurt a little less.” Offsetting the damage with a brace of birdies on each nine, Alexander in fact extended her lead and won by six from Norway’s Dorthea Forbrigd.
Forbrigd made the most impressive attempt to haul Alexander in with a five-under-par 67 – six birdies and a bogey – lifting her a shot clear of third-placed Lily May Humphreys of England who was on two-under after a closing level-par 72.
Camile Chevalier of France and South African Cara Gorlei shared fourth on one under, and five-time Investec South African Women’s Open champion Lee-Anne Pace slipped to a closing one-over 73 to finish in a share of seventh.
Malaysia’s Genevieve Ling, Nicole Garcia and Sweden’s Corinne Viden round out the top 10 on three-over.
For Alexander, there was the satisfaction of knowing that she brought a complete game to the Sun City Resort and was leaving a three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion.
“I’m glad I could keep it tidy today and walk off with the win,” said Alexander. “It felt kind of slow out there. I think I made a lot fewer drops than I usually do, but I made a lot fewer birdies too. But it’s all about staying in the moment, and my caddie and I made good choices all week this week, and I feel good about what that is doing for my game going forward.”
The local circuit travels to the Southern Cape next for the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am.
The event received a mammoth bump in prize money – from R600,000 to R2.5-million and will this year be contested on the Outeniqua and Montagu courses at Fancourt, running concurrently with the Sunshine and Challenge Tours’ Dimension Data Pro-Am.