Nicole Garcia gets exactly what the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am is all about.
And, with her success in other pro-am events around the world, that makes her one of the favourites for the Sunshine Ladies Tour event which tees off on Friday at Fancourt.
Each contestant will play one round on Montagu and Outeniqua at Fancourt, and the final round will be played on Montagu.
The field is made up of 40 professionals. The cut will be to 20 players and ties, after round two.
The professionals will each be paired with an amateur, and they will play betterball medal, with the best nett score to count.
There will be a cut to the leading 10 teams at the conclusion of the second round.
Garcia led teams that won two of the Ladies European Tour’s Aramco Team Series events last year, and, being part of a team – as well as its leader – is right in her wheelhouse as one of the sunniest and most gregarious players on the circuit.
“I’m a people person,” said Garcia, “and when I play events like these, I get into helping people, and playing for something bigger than just myself. It’s good to get out of the isolation of being an individual professional golfer, and to interact with people for a cause.”
The purse has been bumped from R600,000 in 2021 to a staggering R2.5-million. In addition, the leading 10 teams on the final day will fight it out for the lion’s share of the R100,000 prize pot.
“With just 40 players in the field, and that fantastic growth in prize money, it’s more important than ever for players to support events like this,” said Garcia. “I’m even sacrificing a couple of practice days in Saudi Arabia ahead of next week’s tournament to support this event.
“It’s an opportunity to solidify the growth of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, and, hopefully, with continued growth in prize funds, the field for the tournament can grow too.”
With Garcia in the field is five-time Investec South African Women’s Open champion Lee-Anne Pace, and, while she faded last week at Sun City after a solid start, she should soon be back to her best and posing a formidable threat at the top of the leaderboard.
The foreign challenge is also formidable: Dorthea Forbrigd of Norway, France’s Camille Chevalier and Lily May Humphreys finished from second to fourth behind last week’s winner Casandra Alexander, and will relish the challenge posed by the Fancourt courses.
With Alexander off to Morocco for the Ladies European Tour tournament there, Cara Gorlei of South Africa is the leading South African player from last week’s tournament in the field at Fancourt, after she finished in a share of fourth with Chevalier.
But, after Pace, Garcia was next-best South African finisher last week, in a share of 10th. And expect her laughter to ring out around Fancourt as she supports one of the most important tournaments for the future of women’s professional golf in South Africa.
As Sunshine Tour commissioner Thomas Abt said, “The Dimension Data Pro-Am is one of our most important tournaments in both legacy and inclusion through its celebration of and commitment to the men’s and women’s game on the Sunshine Tour and Sunshine Ladies Tour, and we’re privileged to have Dimension Data as a longstanding sponsor and partner who shares our vision to keep driving the game forward and create opportunities for our professionals.”