Her final round score card in the JTBC Founders Cup might have been a bit more colourful than Ashleigh Simon hoped for, but the South African was still pretty satisfied to have banked some points in Phoenix on Sunday. Coming off a victory in the Sunshine Ladies Tour Open and a tie for second in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge at home, Simon was thrilled to break the missed-cut run on the LPGA Tour with rounds of 70, 72, 70 and 73. The four-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner tied for 71st on three-under-par 285.
Simon will be hunting a top 10 performance in San Diego this week and knows the pressure is on. The Kia Classic represents the final chance for Simon to qualify for the first Major of the season and join compatriots Paula Reto and LPGA Tour champion Lee-Anne Pace in the field at the Dinah Shore Tournament Course at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage. Pace and Reto, who finished inside the top 80 on the 2014 LPGA Tour Money List, are both exempt for the ANA Inspiration (previously known as the Kraft Nabisco Championship) in a fortnight, but a top 20 finish in the Kia Classic could help Simon extend her stay in the Sunny State.
Although her overall game is in good shape, Simon knows she needs to limit the mistakes in Carlsbad. The 26-year-old reeled in 17 birdies over the four rounds at the Wildfire Golf Club, including half-a-dozen birdies in the final round. However, she erased all the good work with seven bogeys on Sunday.
Simon say: ‘I felt disappointed with my last round. I didn’t feel like my swing was there as much as over the first three rounds. I made six birdies, which was really good, but I had too many soft bogeys and loose shots. Overall, it’s coming along, and there are many positives after my first week back on the LPGA Tour. I am striking the ball well and I putted really nicely, but I didn’t play the par fives well at all this week and I need to sharpen up on my wedge play.’ The South African fared well at the Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad last year and returns with positive vibes. She was very well placed after rounds of 71, 69 and 70, but let herself down with a final round 76 to tie for 32nd.
Meanwhile 2014 Evian Championship winner Hyo Joo Kim from South Korea fired a final round five-under-par 67 to defeat Major winner Stacy Lewis from the United States by three strokes for the JTBC Founders Cup title.
Photo: Ashleigh Simon
Photo credit: Matthew Withers / Action Pix/Lexar