Birdie-fest sees Simon lead Smit by one at Tshwane Open | SASCOC - SASCOC

Birdie-fest sees Simon lead Smit by one at Tshwane Open

PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 03: Ashleigh Simon during day 2 of the Ladies Tshwane Open at Zwartkop Country Club on February 03, 2016 in Pretoria, South Africa. EDITOR'S NOTE: For free editorial use. Not available for sale. No commercial usage. (Photo by Petri Oeschger/Sunshine Tour/Gallo Images)

Ashleigh Simon lit up the back nine at Zwartkop Country Club to open up a one-shot lead on Monique Smit in the second round of the Ladies Tshwane Open on Wednesday.
The four-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion lagged three shots behind Smit at the turn, but served up a birdie-fest to complete the inward loop in 29 strokes.
A six-under 66 rocketed Simon into pole position on seven-under-par 135, but if the 26-year-old wants to add to her haul of trophies, she’ll have to fend off the in-form Smit. The Southern Cape golfer enjoyed two podium finishes in 2014 and a flawless 68 left her hot on Simon’s heels.
‘Monique has been playing great golf in the last two events and she is definitely a threat,’ Simon said. ‘Although my ball striking has been superb since the Ladies Joburg Open, and my putting was poor, I found something on the weekend. I putted really well; just need to keep rolling them in now.’
Simon started the day in joint second on two under with Smit, Liezl Klotz and amateur Kaleigh Telfer.
Overnight pacesetter Nobuhle Dlamini faltered with double bogeys at two and four and Smit pounced with birdies at one and three to take the lead, but Simon’s putter remained cold and she turned one under after a bogey at the par-four sixth.
The first birdie putt dropped at 10 and another at 11. Just like that, her putting woes were over.
‘I lipped out for birdie at 12, but I holed another birdie putt at 13 and I knew I was back,’ she gushed.
‘I realised that I was pushing my right shoulder forward, so I worked on keeping my shoulder under my chin on the follow through. It didn’t really come together on the front nine, but once I got those first couple of putts in the hole, the confidence was back.’
Smit kept her edge with a birdie at 12m, but Simon overhauled her with a hat-trick of birdies over the closing holes.
‘I made a great par-save at 14 and lipped-out for birdie at 15, but I caught up with Monique with a birdie at par five,’ Simon said.
‘We played off the tips, so I hit driver and laid up with a three-wood. I hit a lob-wedge very close and made the putt. At 17, I hit eight-iron to 12 feet and holed the putt, but I thought I might be in trouble at 18 when I caught the fairway bunker off the tee. I had a pretty decent lie, though, and smashed a three-wood to 30 metres short of the green. I chipped to four feet and boxed the putt.
‘It’s a great feeling to produce the kind of scores I know I’m capable of. I’m definitely going to push the boat out in the final round, because I will miss a few tournaments when I leave for Australia next weekend.
‘Decent finishes this week and next week in the Cape Town Ladies Open will leave me in a strong position on the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies Points Standings to make the season-finale.’
The final round could well turn into a two-horse race between Simon and Smit, as England’s Rebecca Hudson and Telfer finished well back in a tie for third on 142.
Hudson – who claimed her maiden breakthrough in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Houghton Golf Club last week – carded a 68 while South Africa’s top ranked amateur Telfer returned a 73.

Picture of Simons courtesy of Sunshine Ladies Tour

135 – Ashleigh Simon 69 66
136 – Monique Smit 69 67
142 – Rebecca Hudson ENG 74 68, Kaleigh Telfer (AMA) 69 73
143 – Maria Beautell ESP 75 68, Anna Scott ENG 73 70, Ivanna Samu (AMA) 72 71
144 – Laurette Maritz 74 70, Stacy Bregman 70 74, Liezl Klotz 69 75
145 – Alexandra Lennartsson SWE 75 70, Melissa Eaton 74 71
146 – Tandi von Ruben 76 70, Michelle Leigh 73 73, Carrie Park KOR 72 74
147 – Nicole Garcia 74 73, Bonita Bredenhann (NAM) 81 66, Kim Williams 72 75, Nobuhle Dlamini SWZ 68 79
148 – Alana van Greuning 74 74, Demi Flanagan (AMA) 73 75
149 – Zethu Myeki (AMA) 76 73, Lejan Lewthwaite 72 77
150 – Lindi Coetzee (AMA) 76 74, Chiara Contomathios (AMA) 75 75, Crystal Cooper (AMA) 75 75, Monja Richards 77 73, Caitlyn Macnab (AMA) 73 77, Francesca Cuturi 72 78
151 – Crizelda van Niekerk 77 74, Woo-Ju Son (AMA) 77 74, Cecilie Lundgreen NOR 78 73, Symone Henriques (AMA) 74 77, Hanna Roos SWE 80 71
152 – Zelda Smook (AMA) 77 75, Maria Roos SWE 75 77, Mae Cornforth 81 71
153 – Kelsey Nicholas (AMA) 79 74
154 – Sarah Blythe-Wood ZIM 81 73
155 – Larissa Du Preez (AMA) 81 74
156 – Casandra Hall (AMA) 77 79, Frankie Bosman (AMA) 78 78, Katia Shaff (AMA) AUT 78 78, Leanda Schulze 79 77, Virginie Roques FRA 79 77
157 – Carmia van Wyk 82 75
158 – Marguerite Pienaar 75 83
159 – Shawnelle de Lange (AMA) 78 81
160 – Henriette Frylinck 81 79
161 – Tijana Kraljevic 78 83, Anne Sophie Le Nalio FRA 80 81, Nicole Hannah (AMA) 84 77
162 – Kirsty Fisher ENG 84 78
163 – Elina Bergvall SWE 84 79
165 – Michelle de Vries 82 83
168 – Lynette Pretorius (AMA) 83 85