Although she has won twice on the Sunshine Ladies Tour this season, Casandra Alexander is not going into the €300,000 Joburg Ladies Open which gets underway at Modderfontein Golf Club on Wednesday with any expectations.
Alexander, who added last week’s Jabra Ladies Classic to her SuperSport Ladies Challenge title from the beginning of February, leads the Investec Order of Merit on the local tour, and is clearly on a roll ahead of the final two events of the season which are co-sanctioned by the Sunshine Ladies Tour and the Ladies European Tour.
“I’m gearing up for the two big ones, but I have no expectations; I’m just excited for the week ahead,” the 2021 Joburg Ladies Open champion said.
Alexander won her title at Soweto Country Club by one stroke from South Africa’s leading player at the time, Lee-Anne Pace, but she missed the cut at Modderfontein last year when Sweden’s Linn Grant won her third title in South Africa before going on to nearly conquer the world.
“I struggled out there last year,” said Alexander, “but the confidence I have from winning my two tournaments on the Sunshine Ladies Tour this year really helps me. I have fond memories of the Joburg Open having won it before. Yes, it’s a different golf course, and it wasn’t co-sanctioned then, but it has always been a special week.”
And it is special again this week, with no less than five Investec South African Women’s Open champions in the field, including Pace, who has won the last two national titles, 2020 winner Alice Hewson from England, Diksha Dagar from India, who won in 2019, Norway’s Marianne Skarpnord, the winner in 2013 and Tandi McCallum, who won in 2009.
There is also last year’s runner-up, Kim Metraux of Switzerland, as well as players from 28 countries other than South Africa.
And, of course, there are the South African players looking to make their mark on the Ladies European Tour, as well as their own home circuit – the rookies like Kiera Floyd and Gabi Venter, as well as the experienced players who are settling in to their work at local and international level, like Nicole Garcia and Stacy Bregman.
With six players inside the world’s top 200 according to the Rolex Women’s World Rankings – including Pace and Hewson, Ana Pelaez Trivino of Spain, the Czech Republic’s Klara Davidson Spilkova, Leonie Harm of Germany and Swede Johanna Gustavsson – it’s a field for locals to test themselves against as they look to further their careers.
Alexander is heading down that road having played a season on the Ladies European Tour already, and the Joburg Ladies Open can give her a little help on that path.
“It’s an advantage to be staying at home, sleeping in my own bed,” she said. “You don’t get a stiff body that way. Being surrounded by my team is a big bonus.
“I can take each day as just another round of golf, even though they are bigger events and more players are coming out for them,” she added.
Two wins in a season is also a bit of a boost, and it won’t be too much of a surprise to see her in the mix over the weekend. Or to see her win.