SA golf quartet to join the big time

South Africa’s Nicole Garcia, Monique Smit and Melissa Eaton and Boni Bredenhann from Namibia boosted the Sunshine Ladies Tour numbers on the Ladies European Tour in 2015 to eight after graduating from the Lalla Aicha Tour School Final Qualifier with flying colours on Sunday.

The South African quartet were among 34 players from 17 countries who received Category 8A membership in Morocco after coming through in the 90-hole marathon qualifier at the Samanah Golf Club in Marakesh with flying colours.

The quaret will join Stacy Bregman, Connie Chen, Lee-Anne Pace and Ashleigh Simon on the 2015 Ladies European Tour, which gets underway with the RACV Ladies Masters in Queensland in February.

Garcia, who played the 2014 season on a partial card, carded rounds of 72, 75, 70, 67 and 67 for a nine under 351 total to lead the local contingent.

“The job is done,” said the 23-year-old Ebostse golfer. “There was a lot of pressure this week, but my game was consistent. I finished in top 30 and got my card for next year.

“We’ve had a great time in Morocco and it was fantastic to see three South African flags and my playing partner’s Namibian flag among the graduates.

“What a fantastic way to start celebrating the festive season.”

Two-time Sunshine Ladies Tour Smit from George claimed a share of 10th on four under 356 with rounds of 72, 69, 68, 76 and 71, while Symetra Tour champion Eaton from KwaZulu-Natal registered two 76s, two 68s and a final round 73 to finish on the cut, set one over 356.

And there will be massive celebrations when Bredenhann returns to Windhoek.

The Namibian’s second year on Tour was a struggle after she picked up a virus early in the season and injured her back. With surgery scheduled in January, the country’s former number one player seriously contemplated stepping away from golf after another disappointing performance in the Cell C SA Women’s Open in October.

Bredenhann gave it a last-chance go on the IGT Tour, however, and was boosted by a couple of solid performances on the country’s premier development Tour.

She carded rounds of 75 and 71, but was in serious after a third round 75.

The 22-year-old tackled the Marrakech layout with renewed vigour in the fourth round and reeled in nine birdies to record a nine under par 63, the lowest score recorded in the three editions of Lalla Aicha Tour School in Morocco since 2012.

Bredenhann vaulted 46 places up the leader board into a share of 10th position and closed with a 68 to finish in sixth place on eight under on four under 352.

“I chased my room-mate (Nicole) in the last round, but she beat me at the last hole,” joked the delighted Bredenhann. “It was awesome travelling with the South African girls over the last three weeks and we had a lot of fun together. We did the job, now it’s time to relax.”

The cut to the leading 60 players and ties for the final round fell to 64 players at six over par.

Swaziland’s Nobuhle Dlamini missed by one agonising stroke, while rookie Francesca Cuturi finished on a credible 10 over 301 in first attempt.

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