A new title sponsor for the South African Women’s Open, two events upgraded, four new courses and a significant increase in prize money are among the highlights of the 2018 Sunshine Ladies Tour schedule.
“The Sunshine Ladies Tour has shown tremendous growth since 2014, when we launched with eight events, totalling R1 075 million in prize money,” said Sunshine Tour Chief Executive Selwyn Nathan on Friday.
“Last year the total purse was just under R3 million and the top 10 ranked professionals competed for a R1 million bonus pool in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies. However the season-long money list series has been scrapped in favour of bigger and better things.
“Instead, four of our sponsors have joined forces to offer bigger purses, and Investec took up the title sponsorship of the South African Women’s Open, raising the profile of our national championship to global status with the biggest purse ever offered on the women’s professional circuit in South Africa. The 2018 Sunshine Ladies Tour will offer a record purse of R4 450 million, plus a R100 000 incentive for the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit winner.
“The Sunshine Ladies Tour was launched to ensure the future of our playing professionals and the continued growth of golf. Today, the women’s professional golf circuit in South Africa is healthy, strong and growing, thanks to our key stakeholders and sponsors, including Investec Property Fund, the municipalities of Joburg, Tshwane and Cape Town, Dimension Data, Sun International, SuperSport, Canon and Pink Stig.
“Moreover, the international participation on the Sunshine Ladies Tour has tripled in the last year with more than 40 foreigners competing in 2017 alongside our top local players. The knock-on effect for our rising amateurs has been fantastic. We look forward to another memorable season, culminating in the Investec South African Women’s Open in Cape Town.”
The 2018 season kicks off with the Canon Ladies Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club from 23-25 January. The Joburg Ladies Open, which moves to Modderfontein Golf Club, follows from 31 January to 2 February.
After the Cape Town Ladies Open at Royal Cape Golf Club from 6-8 February and the Sunshine Ladies Tour Dimension Data Challenge in George from 16-18 February, the Sunshine Ladies Tour will enjoy two weeks of back-to-back action in KwaZulu-Natal.
“The Ray Nkonyeni Municipality hosted the South African Women’s Open for five years at San Lameer Country Club and last year, the City of Cape Town supported us to bring the South African Women’s Masters back to the circuit after an absence of eight years,” said Lesley Copeman of World Sports Promotions.
“With the Investec South African Women’s Open moving to Cape Town, the City of Cape Town will be supporting the national championship. We then offered the South African Women’s Masters to the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality and we are so delighted that they accepted. We are incredibly grateful to the municipality and its mayor, Councillor Nomusa Mqwebu, for their unwavering and ongoing support of women’s golf.”
San Lameer Country Club will once again play host to the Sunshine Ladies Tour when the South African Women’s Masters tees off from 22-24 February.
The Sunshine Ladies Tour travels a little further south the following week for the SuperSport Ladies Challenge, presented by Sun International, at the Wild Coast Sun Country Club from 28 February to 2 March.
The Sunshine Ladies Tour then heads back to Cape Town for the season finale at Atlantic Beach Golf Club from 8-10 March.
“We are very pleased that Investec have chosen to take up the title sponsorship of the South African Women’s Open,” Copeman said. “An event of this stature deserves a strong, stand-alone brand and their confidence and support will take the championship from strength to strength. We also applaud the City of Cape Town and its mayor, Councillor Patricia de Lille, for welcoming the Investec South African Women’s Open to Cape Town.”
Players will also compete for an additional R100 000 in the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit that will earn the outstanding player of the season an invitation to compete in a main event on the Ladies European Tour and Final Stage exemption into the 2019 Qualifying School.
Nathan added: “With a strong field, a fantastic challenge in Atlantic Beach Golf Club and the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit incentive, the R2-million Investec South African Women’s Open promises to end the 2018 season on an exciting and exhilarating note.”
2018 SUNSHINE LADIES TOUR SCHEDULE
R400 000 Canon Ladies Tshwane Open
Pretoria Country Club
31 January-2 February
R500 000 Joburg Ladies Open
Modderfontein Golf Club
R200 000 Cape Town Ladies Open
Royal Cape Golf Club
R500 000 Sunshine Ladies Tour Dimension Data Challenge
R100 000 Pro-Am prize fund
George Golf Club (16/17 February)
The Outeniqua Course at Fancourt (18 February)
R350 000 South African Women’s Masters
San Lameer Country Club
28 February-2 March
R400 000 SuperSport Ladies Challenge, presented by Sun International
Wild Coast Sun Country Club
R2 000 000 Investec South African Women’s Open
Atlantic Beach Golf Club
Written and released on behalf of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and WPGA.