She only touched down on home soil this morning, but South Africa’s Ashleigh Simon is targeting a successful title defence at the Chase to Investec Cup for Ladies, which tees off at Glendower Golf Club on Thursday. “I am a little jet-lagged, but I am battle ready. My game is in good shape and I’m feeling confident. I love competing at Glendower. I popped in this morning to register and get a yardage book and it just felt great to be home,” Simon announced. The big-hitting Simon defeated newly crowned Sun International Ladies Challenge champion Stacy Lee Bregman by four strokes to notch her first title on the 2014 Sunshine Ladies Tour at her home course 12 months ago. She added the weather-shortened Ladies Tshwane Open title a few days later and closed out a productive three week stint at home with a Sunshine Ladies Tour hat-trick in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Blue Valley.
Simon knows she needs a big finish at Glendower to score points in the Chase to the 2015 Ladies Investec Cup. Current number one Lee-Anne Pace leads the standings on 400 points after her play-off triumph in the Cell C SA Women’s Open at San Lameer in October last year. However, the LPGA Tour winner missed the Sun International Ladies Challenge and is competing in the RACV Ladies Masters in Australia this week.
Bregman lags just 97 points behind Pace after her one-stroke triumph at the Lost City Golf Course on Tuesday. Simon is well behind the eighth ball, having earned just 28 points for a disappointing joint 60th place in the SA Women’s Open. “I know I need to pull out all the stops this week and I’m going to give it all I’ve got. Although I led the Chase to the Investec Cup last year, I couldn’t play the final event and I want to put myself in the running again this year. A good performance this week will put me right where I need to be to challenge in the Chase to the 2015 Ladies Investec Cup,” she said.
The 25-year-old will certainly be tough to beat in her back-yard. Simon turned professional on the back of a very successful amateur career and honed her craft at Glendower, where she also holds honorary membership. “It’s a cliché, but I know the course like the back of my hand. I just love this layout. At any course I would be worried that I didn’t have time for a practice round, but I could play Glendower in my sleep. I just need to warm up nicely and get off to a good start. I’m definitely ready to challenge,” she said.
Bregman is a strong contender to deny Simon, though. She opened with a 71 in the first round last year, but chased Simon to the finish line and after her victory at Sun City, her confidence is riding high. Former Symetra Tour winner Melissa Eaton narrowly missed out on forcing Bregman into a play-off at the Lost City, while Nelspruit rookie Monja Richards made an impressive debut with a third place tie at Sun City.
Nicole Garcia and two-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Monique Smit both closed with 71s at Lost City and cannot be discounted, while England’s Charlotte Ellis and 2014 Chase to the Investec Cup Houghton winner Kim Williams could be the dark horses to watch at Glendower.
Photo: Ashleigh Simon
Photo credit: Catherine Kotze / SASPA