Local favourite Monique Smit intends to take advantage of her home comforts when she hunts down repeat success in the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am in George this weekend. The Southern Cape professional hopes the local fans will out in full support as they did last year when she claimed her maiden Sunshine Ladies Tour title at home. ‘I’m going all out to defend my title, because I need a huge boost in the Chase to the 2015 Investec Cup rankings. I missed the cut in the Cell C SA Women’s Open, but I had a decent top 10 finish in the in the Sun International Ladies Challenge. Then I really let it slip in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Glendower and I feel a little on the back foot right now,” she said.
Only the top 10 ranked professionals will qualify to chase down the R100,000 season finale Investec Cup for Ladies and the accompanying R600 000 bonus-pool at Millvale and Lost City from 22-22 March. ‘I have to throw my name in the hat, but right now I am ranked 22nd, so I’ve got some work to do. Even if you take away the amateurs and the international players that are not competing on the Sunshine Ladies Tour, I’m still outside the top 10. It’s time to step it up and home is the best place to do it,’ said the 23-year old. Reigning Investec Cup for Ladies champion Lee-Anne Pace tops the rankings with 400 points after her play-off victory in the season-opening SA Women’s Open, however Nicole Garcia, Stacy Bregman and Symetra Tour winner Melissa Eaton have closed the gap on the Pearl Valley golfer.
Bregman collected 378 points with a tie for 14th in the SA Women’s Open, victory in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge and a seventh place in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies. Garcia missed the cut at San Lameer, but vaulted to second in the standings on 387.5 points after a tie for third at Lost City and a four stroke victory at Glendower. Although Eaton is still hunting a maiden Sunshine Ladies Tour win, the KwaZulu-Natal player lags just 107 points behind Pace after a top 30 finish at the SA Women’s Open, a runner-up finish at Sun City and a top 10 finish in Dowerglen.
‘Coming home after the 82 and 81 at Glendower just lifted my spirits and I’m looking forward to my title defence. We have a lot more to play for this week, too. Dimension Data raised the purse to R200,000 and with 250 points in the Chase on the line, it’s bound to be a tough contest this year. I strive on pressure, though, and that just increases the incentive for me,’ she said. While most of the top contenders last year were good performers, consistency was the key to Smit’s success as she fought her way to second in the final standings. If she can find that consistency in the first round at Oubaai, the local favourite could be had to beat.
Photo: Dimension Data Pro-Am defending champion, Monique Smit
Photo credit: Luke Walker/Gallo Images/Sunshine Tour.