Lily May Humphreys sealed an emotional maiden Sunshine Ladies and Ladies European Tour victory with a masterful two-shot triumph in the €300,000 Joburg Ladies Open on Saturday.
The Englishwoman started the day six shots behind overnight leader Moa Folke, who overhauled her in the final round of the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am to win at Fancourt three weeks ago.
Turning the tables on the Swede, Humphreys looked in control from the moment she made the first two of her seven birdies on the two opening holes and, when Folke’s campaign hit the skids on the back nine, she closed with a composed six-under-par 67 to lift the title.
“I’m at a loss for words, really,” said the champion. “Starting six back, I never expected to finish in the winner’s circle. I’m pretty speechless. I was so nervous playing 18. I just can’t believe I’ve done it. I’m really overwhelmed right now.”
Humphreys believes a well-executed game plan produced the winning result.
“I wasn’t as aggressive on certain holes as other players were,” she said. “All week I just stuck to what I felt comfortable with, and what was best for me and that obviously paid off.”
After the fast start, she overturned a bogey on the third with a birdie on the par-five fifth and notched further birdies on the par-five 8th and the 13th holes before she tied Folke for the lead on 11 under with her sixth gain of the day on the par-three 14th.
“I was pretty good off the tee,” she said. “I don’t think I really missed a fairway, and I didn’t miss too many greens today. I didn’t hole absolutely everything. I started off holing two good putts on one and two and then on 14 and 16, and those luckily got me into the lead. I just tried to keep playing my game, which is fairways and greens and see what happens with the putts.”
Folke, two groups behind Humphreys, dropped on 14 and 15, and when the 2021 LET Access Tour Order of Merit winner birdied the par-three 16th, she had pulled two shots clear.
“I only realised I was tied for the lead on the 15th,” Humphreys said. “I had a five-foot putt for par and luckily, I holed that and followed it up with a birdie on 16. I didn’t know that I had a two-shot lead until I was putting on 18. The nerves properly kicked in then.”
The hardest was waiting for the last two groups to finish.
Folke, who failed to make up a deficit, signed for 74 and had to settle for share of second on 10 under with Spain’s Ana Pelaez, who returned a 69.
Kiera Floyd was the top South African finisher after the 18-year-old rookie closed with a two-under 71 to finish joint fourth with Czech golfer Klara Davidson Spilkova and 36-hole leader Nicole Broch Estrup from Denmark, who posted respective rounds of 73 and 74.
Coming off a stellar amateur career, Humphreys had to delay turning professional for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, 15 month into the pro ranks, she owns a Ladies European Tour winner’s category for the rest of the season, and the 2024 and 2025 seasons. More importantly, she has gained the confidence that she can compete – and beat – the best.
“I came out to play on the Sunshine Ladies Tour to warm up, and to see where my game was at and to build some confidence. It’s worked so far,” the 20-year-old Chelmsford golfer said.
“I love it here; I have been enjoying it and I have loved playing the Sunshine Ladies Tour. I’m in better form now and feel confident and I was happy that I was in the final few groups, and I started off nicely, I just wanted to be near contention at the start of the day. To be where I am now is incredible.”
The victory bumped Humphreys to the top of the 2023 Investec Order of Merit, with Folke in second and Jabra Ladies Classic winner Casandra Alexander in third.
The trio will duel out the moneylist race when the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s 10th season wraps up next week with the 30th Investec South African Women’s Open, also co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour.
South Africa’s flagship event boasts an increased purse of €320,000 and will be hosted by the City of Cape Town at Steenberg Golf Club for a second consecutive year from 8-11 March.