Three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Asheigh Simon and compatriot Paula Reto got their 2015 season underway in the LPGA Tour’s Coates Championship on Wednesday. Simon carded an opening seven-over-par 79 to tie for 10th, while Reto returned an 80 for a share of 112th at the Golden Ocola Golf and Equestrian Club in Florida. Top ranked Stacy Lewis, Azahara Munoz and Jessica Korda managed to complete the first round before darkness fell and the failing light forced 20 players off the course.
The trio share the first round lead on six under 66. Lewis birdied five or her last six holes, Korda notched three birdies over the last five holes and Munoz finished with back-to-back gains to finish one shot clear of early pacesetters Austin Ernst and Ha Na Yang. Simon dropped shots at the first, third and sixth holes, but shaved a shot off the deficit with a birdie at the par-three fourth.
The Joburg pro bogeyed the 10th and 13th, but double bogeys either side of a birdie at the par-three second saw her complete the back nine in 41 strokes. Reto, who finished her first season on the LPGA Tour ranked seventh on the Rookie List, offset five bogeys and two double bogeys with back-to-back birdies at the 10th and 11th. Reigning Investec Cup champion Lee-Anne Pace gave the season-opener a miss.
The Pearl Valley golfer, who won the LPGA Blue Bay and ended the 2014 season with a 38th place ranking, will play the Ladies Masters at Royal Pines Resort in Australia from February 12-15. The Cell C SA Women’s Open champion will line up alongside 2014 Ladies European Tour winner Charley Hull and three-time winner Laura Davies from England, defending champion Cheyenne Woods from America and Australia’s Katherine Kirk.
Photo: Three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion, Ashleigh Simon
Photo credit: Catherine Kotze / SASPA.