Tandi Von Ruben enjoyed the perfect start to the Sunshine Ladies Tour season-finale as she made light of testing conditions at the Millvale Private Retreat near Koster to take a comfortable three shot lead in the R300,000 Investec Cup for Ladies on Friday.
The reigning SuperSport Challenge champion elected to adopt a carefree approach and play the course blind and her decision paid off with a steely even-par 72. Lee-Anne Pace finished birdie-par en route to a 75, while unheralded newcomer, Francesca Cuturi, clocked in at third with a four over 76, Nicole Garcia, Monique Smit and Morgana Robbertze share fourth on 77.
Von Ruben dropped an early shot at the par-four second, but settled down and reeled in three birdies on the trot from the fifth to move two clear of the field. She dropped two more shots on the back nine, with bogeys at the 13th and 18th. “Actually, after missing the par-putt on the 18th, I was ready to drown myself in the little river next to the green, but then I heard I still had a three shot lead,” the leggy blonde golfer joked.
“On a serious note, I found the back nine much tougher than the opening stretch. The wind was pretty blustery on the back and it was much more difficult to judge your shots. Someone had a pretty wicked sense of humour with the pin on the 17th, too. They set the pin two meters off the edge, with all that water on the left. That was another tough hole to conquer and I’m glad I walked away with a par,” said Von Ruben.
The former SA Women’s Open champion was delighted to be leading by such a large margin. With action moving to the Lost City Golf Course at Sun City for the second and final rounds, she has even more reasons to smile. Just four weeks ago, Von Ruben won the second Sunshine Ladies Tour event at the venue when she defeated amateur Magda Kruger in a play-off.
“I have great memories of the course, and I will take the confidence of that victory into the second round, but I’m not the kind of player who sets goals and targets. It sets me up for failure, because I start putting too much pressure on myself if I’m not exactly where I needed to be. I’m going in with no expectations, just the determination to play great golf and have a lot of fun doing it,” she said.
Pace bogeyed the first and third, double bogeyed the 12th and dropped another shot at the 13th. She minimized the damage with birdies at the 10th and 17th. The former Ladies European Tour number one arrived back in South Africa on Monday following a tie for fourth in the LET’s Lalla Meryem Cup. Although she lags three shots behind, Pace is not too worried about the deficit.
“I like coming from behind and hunting down the leader,” she admitted. “I lagged well behind in Morocco, but managed to climb to joint fourth. That’s one of the strengths of my game, so the next two days should be fun. I have to admit, though, it was a tough day out there. I hit a lot of great shots and holed a couple of long putts, and I only missed two fairways. But I made some bad club choices on a few holes, and that cost me dearly.”
Pace had never played the Lost City course, but doesn’t think that it will affect her adversely, “I’ve heard some great things about the course, and it should suit me. My game is in good shape, and I’m looking forward to hunting down a victory this weekend.”
Photo: Investec Cup for Ladies first round leader, Tandi von Ruben
Photo credit: Luke Walker.