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Locals on the back foot as they chase down foreign leaders at Houghton

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 26: Rebecca Hudson during day 2 of the Ladies Chase to Investec Cup at Houghton Golf Club on January 26, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. EDITOR'S NOTE: For free editorial use. Not available for sale. No commercial usage. (Photo by Luke Walker/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images)

Local hopes Ashleigh Simon and Stacy Bregman will have to dig deep to thwart the title hopes of international challengers Rebecca Hudson and Azelia Meichtry in the final round of the Sunshine Ladies Tour’s Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies on Wednesday.
England’s Hudson, pictured above, carded a flawless 69 to race to a one stroke lead on four-under-par 132, while top Swiss amateur Meichtry posted a four under 68 – the low round of the day – to finish just a shot off the pace at Houghton Golf Club.
Joint overnight leader Simon slipped to third on two under after a 73, while Bregman returned an even-par 72 to finish fourth on one under 135.
Hudson, a four-time Ladies European Tour winner and past SA Women’s Open champion, was in contention a few times last year and hopes to get the job done this season.
She opened with a birdie and broke run of 15 straight pars with birdies at 17 and 18.
‘We holidayed in Portugal after Christmas and I played a little to keep the rust off, but I didn’t really know what to expect from my game,’ said Hudson. ‘I knew the course suited me after the practice round on Sunday, because it sets up really well for longer and shorter hitters.
‘The greens were slightly faster in the second round, but there were a lot of tough pin positions. You have to stay patient on this layout. If you try to chase something on this course, you pay the price. I kept patient and played for par and I picked up the birdies when the course presented them.”
Hudson was impressed with playing partner, South African amateur Ivanna Samu, and is keen to see how Meichtry copes in the final round.
‘I think it’s an excellent initiative to let the amateurs compete on the Sunshine Ladies Tour to gain experience,’ Hudson said. ‘Ivanna is very straight off the tee and hits it a land-mile. Playing at this level will really benefit her short game and course management. Azelia played some great golf and I hope she holds up.’
Of course, Hudson hopes she gets the podium finish. ‘I hope I win, or Azelia, because if she takes it, she can’t take the money,’ Hudson joked.
Meichtry was impressive with birdies at two, four, seven and eight to grab a share of the lead at three under, and recovered after bogeys at 12 and 13 with birdies at 14, 16 and 17, but she bogeyed the closing hole in a nervy finish.
‘I was between clubs at 12 and hit a soft eight-iron into the green and I ended up three-putting for bogey,’ said the 19-year-old KeNako Academy player.
‘At 13, I travelled from bunker to bunker, but I turned things around when I holed a 30-foot putt for birdie at 14. I got to four under with birdies at 16 and 17, but I guess when I realised I was leading, the nerves got me the better of me at 18.”
Meichtry captured the Nomads WGWP Junior Championship in early 2015 and the Girls Division title at the Curro South Africa Juniors International on the Global Junior Golf Tour in March.
She followed a 37-stroke victory in the MCB Indian Ocean Amateur Golf Open in October with a top 10 finish in the SA Women’s Open at San Lameer Country Club in December.
Playing in the leading group is a daunting prospect for the Swiss amateur. ‘I’ve never played in the leading group in a tournament of this stature,’ she said.
‘I’ve mostly been in the second to last group and chasing, which is a lot less nerve-wracking. My only aim will be to stay focused on my own game and not to get side-tracked by Rebecca or Ashleigh. If I can par the first few holes, I think I’ll be okay.’
Samu, meanwhile, carded a 73 to tie for sixth on one over with Sunshine Ladies Tour winners Monique Smit (76) and Nicole Garcia (74).  The trio finished one shot back from rookie Carrie Park, who shot 73 to finish at even-par 136.

SECOND ROUND SCORES
140 – Rebecca Hudson ENG 71 69
141 – Azelia Meichtry (AMA) SUI 73 68
142 – Ashleigh Simon 69 73
143 – Stacy Bregman 71 72
144 – Carrie Park KOR 71 73
145 – Ivanna Samu (AMA) 72 73, Nicole Garcia 71 74, Monique Smit 69 76
146 – Bonita Bredenhann NAM 75 71, Melissa Eaton 73 73, Kim Williams 72 74
147 – Liezl Klotz 76 71, Caitlyn Macnab (AMA) 75 72, Nobuhle Dlamini SWZ 71 76
149 – Francesca Cuturi 77 72
150 – Anna Scott ENG 76 74
151 – Cecilie Lundgreen NOR 77 74, Tandi von Ruben 79 72, Laurette Maritz 74 77, Alexandra Lennartsson SWE 71 80
152 – Larissa Du Preez (AMA) 73 79
154 – Cindy Dalton (AMA) 77 77, Alana van Greuning 78 76, Chiara Contomathios (AMA) 74 80
155 – Elina Bergvall SWE 75 80, Mae Cornforth 77 78, Woo-Ju Son (AMA) 75 80
156 – Lejan Lewthwaite 77 79, Maria Roos SWE 83 73
157 – Carmia van Wyk 77 80, Monja Richards 78 79, Virginie Roques FRA 79 78
159 – Michelle Leigh 73 86
160 – Hanna Roos SWE 82 78, Eva Steinberger AUT 82 78
162 – Shawnelle de Lange (AMA) 77 85, Amy Henning 79 83, Anne Sophie Le Nalio FRA 85 77
163 – Crystal Cooper (AMA) 83 80
165 – Natasha Carlsson (AMA) 80 85, Leanda Schulze 84 81
166 – Lynette Pretorius (AMA) 85 81
167 – Crizelda van Niekerk 85 82
169 – Henriette Frylinck 83 86

WDN – Nicole Hannah (AMA) 83

Missed the cut:
91 – Marguerite Pienaar


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