The Investec South African Women’s Open Championship will add to the kaleidoscope of international sport that has enthralled Cape Town and the world when it tees off on Wednesday at Steenberg Golf Club.
It’s the 30th time the tournament is being played, it’s the 10th anniversary of the Sunshine Ladies Tour, which co-sanctions the event with the Ladies European Tour, and it is the sixth time the tournament will be played in Cape Town.
Hot on the heels of global cricket, yachting and motorsport events, players from 29 countries will showcase their talents on a stage set amongst some of the finest scenery the Western Cape offers.
“It is so encouraging to see women’s golf – and women’s sport in general – getting the exposure and the attention it deserves,” said Cape Town’s mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis. “This tournament will see world-class golfers battle it out over 72 holes for a total prize money of R5.9-million, thanks in great part to the continued sponsorship of Investec. And they will do so against the stunning backdrop of our Constantiaberg mountains.”
Heading up the world-class field is the reigning AIG Women’s Open champion, Ashleigh Buhai, the world No 20, who is returning to South Africa to play in a tournament she has won three times.
“It will be an opportunity for up-and-coming golfers to put their stamp on the game and announce themselves to the world, as they take on some of the biggest names,” said Mayor Hill-Lewis. “Just look at the career of Ashleigh Buhai, who won this tournament way back in 2004 and then again three years later, when she was still a young amateur. Since then, she has become a household name in the game and has done our country proud on the world’s biggest stages, including her spectacular playoff win in the Women’s Open at Muirfield last year.
“She’ll be back at Steenberg, leading this strong field, but she will know that the next Ashleigh Buhai could be standing behind her on the tee box, waiting to grab her opportunity.”
In addition to the up-and-coming players in the field is the five-time champion Lee-Anne Pace, who seems to reserve her resilient best for the championship. She took the last two titles in a row, once at Westlake Golf Club, and last year at Steenberg.
There are also four other former winners of the tournament in the field, in Alice Hewson of England, India’s Diksha Dagar, Norwegian Marianne Skarpnord and South Africa’s Tandi McCallum.
The up-and-coming players include the four winners on this year’s Sunshine Ladies Tour circuit. South Africa’s Casandra Alexander has won twice, in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge and the Jabra Ladies Classic; Moa Folke of Sweden took the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am; England’s Hayley Davis won the Cape Town Ladies Open, and Lily May Humphreys of England won last week’s Joburg Ladies Open.
All of those victories were signals of strong careers ahead of them.
There are also rookie amateurs who have been acquitting themselves well through the season. Chief among them are South Africans Kaleigh Telfer and Kiera Floyd, who lie fifth and ninth respectively on the Investec Order of Merit of the Sunshine Ladies Tour. Telfer has had two top-10 finishes, coming fifth in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am and third in the Jabra Ladies Classic, while Floyd came second in the Cape Town Ladies Open and fourth in the Joburg Ladies Open.
“I have no doubt that the Investec South African Women’s Open will do a fantastic job of selling not only the game of South African women’s golf to the world, but also our beautiful and vibrant city,” said Mayor Hill-Lewis.