SA Ladies at 2017 Lalla Meryem Cup Morocco

The 2017 Lalla Meryem Cup is being played at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam in Rabat, Morocco from 13 – 16 April. This amazing event is hosted by His Majesty King Mohammed VI with a prize purse of €450,000-00.

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Marie-Laure de Lorenzi won the first Lalla Meryem Cup in 1993. It has been played every year since other than 2004. The 2016 champion was Nuria Iturrios of Spain on 11 under par. This win saw her take home a cheque of €67,500-00. She joined the list of outstanding past champions such as Laura Davies (2008), Gwladys Nocera (2007;2015) and Charley Hull (2014).

Last year two out of four South Africans who were playing made the cut. This year we see South Africans Stacy Lee Bergman, Nicole Garcia, Laurette Maritz and Connie Chen competing for the overall trophy.

Stacy Lee Bergman is due for a good result, the kind of form she showed in 2015 on the SunShine Ladies Tour when she bagged three titles in one breathe.

Nicole Garcia would like to see a repeat of her form she displayed at the Qatar Ladies Open 2016 where she finished 6th and has since been her best result internationally.

Link for all the scores and highlights 2017 Lalla Meryem Cup

Writtern by Michelle Leigh
PinkStig Pro and Media Liason Sun PinkStig Series

Xavier Arries shines at Yas Junior Open 2017

Xavier Arries is part of the PinkStig Junior development programme in South Africa and has been privileged to spend time in the company of the PinkStig Pro’s, learning and taking tips on improving her game.

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Xavier has also attended the SA Women’s Masters and the Cape Town Ladies Open where she walked the course with PinkStig Pro’s Michelle Leigh, Tijana Kraljevic, Kiran Matharu, Carrie Park and Ivanna Samu.

Xavier has also had the privilege of playing with three other PinkStig Cubs in the inaugural PinkStig Invitational, which took place at Sun City, 28 Nov 2016. Xavier has made her ambitions known, which is to become a pro and has already demonstrated all the qualities of becoming one. She also enjoyed time alone on the driving range with the SA Legend Sally Little who commented: ”There is no reason for Xavier not to meet her goals if provided the right technical, mental and physical support.” When Xavier was interviewed after her session with Sally, she remarked: ”Sally drilled it into me that the idea to compete more is to succeed more.”

Sarah Braude, President Womens Golf Western Province mentions in a letter about the commitment of Xavier to the game: ”Xavier Arries has been a committed member of the WGWP River Club junior programme since July 2015, with 100% attendance. Xavier has a great swing and feel for the game.”

Earlier this year Xavier moved with her parents to Dubai and immediately they got her enrolled into the Els Club Dubai. She started her lessons at the Butch Harmon School of Golf, Dubai Sports City. Xavier was fortunate enough to receive an invite to play in two junior competitions at Yas Links Golf Course, the latter event being the Yas Junior Open.

UniMedia media liaison spoke to James Ibbetson, Director of Golf Yas Links, Abu Dhabi about junior golf in the gulf region: “Junior Golf is the future of our great sport so it is truly fantastic to see so many junior golfers across a wide range of ages and handicaps compete in our tournament and battle it out to try to get amongst the prizes.”

He commented further on the importance of competitive golf: “Competitive golf is essential in the development of any golfer as it allows players to test themselves against players of a similar age and ability. I would urge all junior golfers to play in as many junior opens, across a wide variety of golf courses, as possible.”

Xavier competed in the Yas Junior Open and is set to continue to grow her game and stature amongst her golfing peers.

See Xavier in action at the PinkStig invitational on Youtube

Yas Links

Kiran Matharu hindered by creeping rain in France

Golf is a game full of highs and lows. You have your good weeks and your bad weeks. Sadly this was a rough week for Kiran Matharu.

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Kiran made her come back on the European circuit this week with a LET Access event in France. Matharu missed the cut by only 3 shots shooting scores of 78 and 74. As in our previous article, Matharu stated that she saw this event as more of a practice leading up to the LET event in Morocco from 13 April to 16 April. “I didn’t play well this week and was struggling with energy levels.”, she says, as it’s been nonstop golf and travelling for the last few weeks. She also added that she will be staying in France for an extra few days as the practice facilities are amazing at Golf de Terre Blanche. The weather also played a big part the last 2 days with cold weather and rain creeping in.

The hard work and dedication that goes on between events is even more than anyone can imagine. It’s sorting out errors in one’s swing and spending hours on the driving range. Working on mental strength with one’s sports psychologist after missing cuts to believe that you will come back stronger in your next event. It’s travelling to the event and playing numerous practice rounds to get used to the course and climate conditions. But one will always do what it takes to do the things you love the most.

Kiran knows what needs to be done to achieve a good result once again in Morocco and if anyone can do it, Kiran can.

Article written by Michelle Leigh, PinkStig Pro and LET Media Liason

Tijana Kraljevic ‘Taking Women’s golf to new heights’

Each season I find myself more motivated as supposed to feeling puzzled and the dreadful mental state of not knowing what way to go with one’s game.

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Now I am able to assess and critique myself as a complete outsider with the intent that I grow as a person and an athlete. Believe me the journey has no end to it. I give most credit for this life lesson and skill to my coach Hendrik Buhrmann. It takes a good coach to get you to swing like the best golfer in the world, but it takes one of the best coaches in the world to get you to think like the best golfer’s in the world.

This Season was by far the best season on the Sunshine Ladies Tour for a few reasons- starting with being part of something bigger than my own ambitions. I had and have the privilege to make an impact on the future of women’s golf in South Africa through the UniMedia’s PINKSTIG initiative.

The sole purpose is to take women’s golf to new heights. PinkStig has passionately created platforms for us for dialogue, collaboration and participation to appease the growing interest of corporate investment into women’s golf. Yet their approach is 10 % golf inside the ropes and 90% life coaching and lifestyle trending outside the ropes.

Part of UniMedia’s PINK PRINT and strategy is to make the game more accessible to young women who show natural talent and demonstrate the appetite to be champions. The “adopt a pro” programme, currently in its infancy stage, is designed by Unimedia to support players financially, professionally and to develop and groom our talent further whilst providing opportunities to compete.

The amount of awareness that was created towards women’s professional golf this season through the power of social media was spectacular. I had so many people coming up to me and talking about the events and asking me about Pinkstig. People recognized me from different social media platforms and some of these folk weren’t even golfers.

Dimension data for me was the biggest eye opener, that the women professional golfers had finally been acknowledged in this county, the amount of positivity we received there from our hosts and spending time to get to know us to the amateurs competing all excited for the women professionals to team up with them and lastly the men pros for being so gracious and supportive of us sharing one of their favourite highlights of the season.

To put a summary on this season in one sentence I would have to quote Gary Player and say ‘womens golf is like a Tsunami coming’.

Skyler T

Carolyn Steyn ‘Beyond my wildest dreams imaginable.’

UniMedia was invited by Steyn City and hosted by Carolyn Steyn to play in the 67 Blankets for Mandela Golf Day 2017.

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Carolyn personally received Dhiren Mehta co founder of UniMedia and introduced him to some of her close friends and supporters of the project. She had just landed at OR Tambo coming from England and came straight to the event to receive and entertain her friends. It is evident that she takes great pride in entertaining her guests and the impression she leaves after the parting is simply high spirited and impeccable taste of class. As much as UniMedia sees its role in women’s professional golf as a movement, Carolyn Steyn shares the same sentiments as she highlights in the video insert below in which she refers to 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day as a movement.

At the prize giving that evening Dhiren Mehta who had seen the possible synergies between PinkStig and Carolyn’s drive, pledged R30 000 towards her project and also secured an opportunity for the PinkStig Pro’s to play a round of golf with South African golfer Brandon Stone. “The idea is to get Brandon to share some of his insights and positive stories that contributed towards his success on the golf course and in the same breathe to invite Brandon to get to know more about the PinkStig Dream Team.” says Dhiren Mehta.

But more about Carolyn Steyn and her drive to promote the 67 blankets for Nelson Mandela Day.

It all started with Zelda la Grange, long time Personal Assistant to the late former President Nelson Mandela, who presented Carolyn Steyn with the challenge of making 67 blankets for Mandela Day in recognition of the 67 years that Madiba spent fighting against apartheid. Carolyn Steyn went on and did just that and more...

In 2014 Carolyn Steyn thought after handing over the blankets she would get on with her life, but instead her life “BECAME 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day!” Following Carolyn’s efforts Gauteng publicist Georg Knoke remarks “This is what reconciliation is all about. South Africans have always done amazing things – this initiative is priceless.”

Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula praised the initiative for bringing “positivity and hope” to South Africa

Fikile said that “as a nation we never need to give up on what Tata Mandela stood for. We buried Nelson Mandela in Qunu… but we never buried his soul and what he stood for, and his ideas. And Carolyn Steyn and her team did is saying to us: never give up!”

On Tuesday, 21 April 2015 Carolyn Steyn did the unthinkable and said, “Beyond my wildest dreams imaginable, this is our goodwill congratulations South Africa.” The occasion was in celebration for turning the Union Buildings in Pretoria into a carpet of colourful blankets. The 3133 square metres of handmade blankets knitted, crocheted or quilted by the knitwits of 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day has broken a Guinness World Record – it is the largest area covered by a blanket.

In August 2015‚ campaign founder Carolyn Steyn, together National Commissioner of Correctional Services Zach Modise, established an initiative to introduce blanket-making in prisons as part of prisoners’ rehabilitation. “The initiative offers an opportunity for inmates from across the country to give back to society‚” Modise said at the launch. “The key to rehabilitation is empowering offenders with skills to function effectively in society upon their release.”

The record list goes on and hearts are moved every time Carolyn Steyn makes an appearance. No doubt a woman driven with a strong feel of the African spirit says: “Together we will knit our society together. Together we will knit our nation together. We will knit Africa together. And then the WORLD!!!”

Sun International

Kiran Matharu, The Next Chapter.

PinkStig Pro Kiran Matharu comes off a very successful Sunshine Ladies Tour season, ending her campaign in 2nd place on the Order of Merit and Chase to Invest Cup 2017.

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It has been a journey starting with an invite to the inaugural PinkStig Invitational 2016 extended to her by UniMedia and then a second invite to come and play on the Sunshine Ladies Tour as a prelude to her Ladies European Access Tour, starting in April.

Kiran Matharu and her caddy dad accepted the invitation which included the promotion of the PinkStig Brand, its vision and mission. She’s been a great ambassador for women’s professional golf in South Africa and presented the PinkStig brand with belief, great enthusiasm and resilience. Leading by example, proudly she takes home with her the Tswhane Ladies Open title and will continue to represent the PinkStig Brand on the Ladies European Access Tour.

The PinkStig Dream Team’s mission in shaping the landscape for female golfers locally and internationally with innovation and creative thinking has attracted corporate and academia to identify with the brand. A new chapter is emerging with immediate benefits to the millennia mind highlighting the longevity of professional golf as a career.

Kiran Matharu was flanked by Carrie Park who holds the Sunshine Ladies Tour Classic and SA Women’s Masters titles 2017, Michelle Leigh, Tijana Kraljevic and Ivanna Samu playing her first year as a pro and who has grasped the opportunity of being part of the PinkStig movement.

Sun International

Kiran Matharu ‘Against the wind’

Already the Sunshine Ladies Tour season has reached its climax with PinkStig Pro Kiran Matharu in the No1 spot on the Order of Merit, Chase to Investec Cup.

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Kiran has led the Order of Merit for the last six weeks and although there has not been much hype about it, her career as a Pro golfer should be highlighted and celebrated. Her attraction to golf at a young age, her rise and then her sudden blocked hip injury which flung her into the dark for almost eight years, her recovery and rehabilitation, her return to professional golf and choosing South Africa to compete and become competitively fit again.

She is commonly known on the Ladies European Tour as the ‘comeback kid’ and often referred to as a former ‘teenage prodigy’ coming out of the Faldo Series Development Programme. Matharu says of her successes on the Sunshine Tour: “I came down to South Africa to get competitive experience before the season in Europe kicks off and my goal was to put myself in contention every week so I could make the final. I think my chances are pretty good now, but I’m going to keep on pushing.”

Kiran has accomplished what she and her dad had set out to achieve and is ready for the Chase to Investec Final. Kiran’s performances has injected a new sense of colour, feel of golf without apology for simply being great at the game and showing an attitude of steel playing week in and week out under pressure. Kiran in fact shrugs off the idea that she folds under pressure and instead says: “it’s what my game feeds off ‘pressure’ so I welcome it and I get excited when I wake up in the morning knowing I have to go out there and close the game on my opponents”

Kiran’s worst result this year on the Sunshine Ladies Tour was 13th at the Cape Town Ladies Open. She had two finishes inside the top 10 and 6 inside the top 5 and currently is the title holder of the Ladies Tshwane Open. Her success on the course is attributed to her consistent play and level headedness, which is largely the influence of her dad and who is her caddy at the same time. Kiran’s story is very much like our own South African Legend Sally Little and her dad ‘Percy’ and that of Tiger Woods and his Dad.

Kiran makes no secret of the fact, that although it’s been confusing for her regarding the whole order of merit format, or whether she has won the Sunshine Ladies Tour Order of Merit or whether it will only be determined this weekend with only the top ten players competing at the ultra private Millvale Golf Estate in the North West Province just outside of Rustenburg and owned by Investec, the investment bank. For now Kiran content’s herself knowing she is the leader on the Sunshine Ladies Tour Order of Merit.

Play starts tomorrow 10th March and Kiran Matharu will not be alone and will have by her side her fellow PinkStig Pro Carrie Park who has been the great gift to SA women’s golf 2017. Read more about Carrie Park in the follow up article tomorrow morning before tee off at the Final of the Chase to Investec.

Real Promotions

Four players in contention in Investec Cup Final

KOSTER, 9 March 2017 – The most engrossing season since the Sunshine Ladies Tour launched in 2014 is heading for a dramatic conclusion in this week’s Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies Final as England’s Kiran Matharu aims to finish as the tour’s number one player for 2017.

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The 27-year-old former golf prodigy nearly gave up the game at the end of 2015 after being plagued with injury problems. After being diagnosed with blocks hips, Matharu decided to give it one more shot.

Her decision to come out to South Africa at the start of the season and compete on the local circuit paid off in ways the Leeds golfer could not imagine. Matharu earned a maiden Sunshine Ladies Tour victory in the Ladies Tshwane Open and remarkably consistent form in her eight other starts elevated her to the top spot in the Points race.

“This has been a great experience for me, because consistency has been key to my results,” said Matharu. “I’ve not started well in some of the events, but I improve during the tournament and score really well in the last two rounds. In fact, even when I haven’t played my best I still scored well, which was probably the biggest difference.

“I’m just really looking forward to finishing the season on a high note and taking this confidence to Europe. The next few days are going to be exciting times.”

Matharu tops the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies rankings with 2 019 points, but when the showstopper at Millvale Private Retreat tees off on Friday, there are at least four players that could collect the winner’s share of 1 000 points to edge out the leader in the season-finale.

Ashleigh Buhai – a mere 200 points behind her – is Matharu’s main challenger.

The four-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner defeated Lee-Anne Pace in a play-off for the Cape Town Ladies Open title, collected a second trophy with a two shot triumph in the Sun International Ladies Challenge and bagged three runner-up finishes this season.

Buhai and Matharu have played together a few times and enjoy a friendly rivalry, which has buoyed both players to incredible golf as the season comes to a close.

“It’s great to have a bit of rivalry on the course,” said Buhai. “Everything we’ve worked for this season boils down to being here this week and trying to win the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies.

“I had a shaky start to the season when I had to switch to new clubs and to make the top 10 and have a real stab at the title is a dream come true. You can play golf until you’re really old, but these are the moments you are going to remember at the end of your career. We have the best of the best here at Millvale and we will be pushing each other to another level this week.”

Dimension Data Ladies Challenge winner Nicol Garcia – third with 1 689 points – believes the tête-à-tête at the summit has pushed everyone to greater heights, but now the focus is on the grand prize.

“I’d like to finish the season on a high before I leave for the start of the Ladies European Tour,” said the 24-year-old Benoni golfer. “I’m definitely going to Europe at a different level than I was starting last season. This season as has given me a lot of confidence and I am a lot more prepared.

Williams captured the season-opening SuperSport Ladies Challenge and the Centurion Country Club player bookended a superb season with a five stroke victory in the Joburg Ladies Open in Tuesday.

The victory rocketed Williams to fourth in the rankings with 1 645 points, but she leads by a slender 100 points from the other player in with a shot of winning the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies – fifth ranked Carrie Park from South Korea, who made her professional breakthrough in the SA Women’s Masters in January.

Three-time Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies winner Lee-Anne Pace, ranked sixth, arrived back from the HSBC Women’s Champions on Wednesday and discovered the head of her driver had snapped off during the flight from Singapore.

Although she is effectively out of the chase for the main prize on 1 280 points, the Investec Property player quickly had three drivers fashioned from odd heads and shafts, because there is still the matter of the R100 000 winner-takes-all prize.

“There is always something to play for, and although I can’t win the Chase but I can still win the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies Final,” said South Africa’s top golf export. “And that’s the goal.”

The four players ranked below Pace who will also be gunning for the tournament win are Tandi von Ruben (1 253), Namibian golfer Bonita Bredenhann (1 096), debutant Lejan Lewthwaite (987) and Swaziland’s Nobuhle Dlamini with 957 points.

“Everything here at Millvale is absolutely pristine,” Dlamini said. “Every tee box, every fairway and every green is just perfect and the recent rain has turned it all green and lush. I drove every fairway and green in the practice round and I am hungry. I can’t wait to get started.”

Written and released by Lali Stander on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.

Lali Stander
Sunshine Ladies Tour Media Liaison

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