Benoni golfer Lejan Lewthwaite has claimed her second playoff victory on the IGT Challenge Tour, this time defeating Tristen Strydom at Modderfontein Golf Club on Wednesday.
Strydom held the lead for 51 holes, but a couple of bogeys down the stretch saw the Pretoria golfer close with a 71. Lewthwaite took pole position at the 16th, but a bogey finish for a 69 saw the pair tie on nine-under-par 209 in regulation play.
When Lewthwaite made IGT Challenge Tour history as the first female winner just over two months ago, she won at the 1st hole of a sudden-death playoff at Maccauvlei. This time she got the job done in two holes.
‘I’m so incredibly happy with the results,’ said the 27-year-old Investec player. ‘The timing is just perfect with the final stage of the Ladies European Tour Qualifying School in three weeks.
‘The Champions League at Wanderers sponsored me to compete in the Hero Women’s Indian Open last month and I came back with quite a bit of confidence after I made the cut at the DLF Golf and Country Club, which is considered one of the toughest courses in the world.
‘The course set-up was similar to the Joburg Ladies Open set-up with a mix of men’s, senior and the back tips of the ladies tees. I made a good start in the first round, kept it going and know I had a chance if I stayed patient,’ said Lewthwaite.
Lewthwaite opened with rounds of 68 and 70 to start the final day two shots behind four-time winner Strydom. The overnight leader bombed his drive down the 1st, was on the green for two and made an eagle start. He birdied the 8th to turn 11 under.
Lewthwaite made a birdie start and cancelled a bogey at the 7th with a birdie the next hole to start the back nine four off the pace.
‘The 14th and 15th holes are two really tough holes, and I was really pleased to make par on both,’ said Lewthwaite.
‘He [Strydom] had some tree trouble at 16 and dropped another shot and I boxed a clutch-putt for birdie to take the lead at 16. At 18, my tee shot ran through the fairway and finished up against the trunk of a tree. I had no other option than to punch out and I finished with a bogey.
‘We both parred 18 the first time round. My second drive was shorter and I had to take an extra club and hit 8-iron on the green. Tristen’s approach plugged in the greenside bunker and he didn’t get it out the first time, which left me with two putts for the win,’ Lewthwaite said.
‘It was a tense day, but I stayed patient. That’s something I’ve been working on with my mental coach Mark Fairbanks because my impatience has cost me in the past. So this was a mental victory for me, too.
‘It really helps us to build our games and stay competitive and I think competing against the guys gives us an added edge. Just look at Nobuhle Dlamini. She’s been prepping here for the first stage of Q-School, which she won last week,’ Lewthwaite added.
Lewthwaite wasn’t the only Sunshine Ladies Tour campaigner to shine this week; three more ladies made the cut. Francesca Cuturi tied for 23rd, Ivanna Samu grabbed a share of 30th and Pretoria rookie Catherine Lau tied for 32nd in just her second start in the pro ranks.
SA unless stated; amateurs AMA
207 – Lejan (68 70 69)
207 – Tristen Strydom (66 70 71)
208 – Ruan Korb (73 66 69)
209 – Dylan Mostert (76 67 66), Allister de Kock (73 67 69)
211 – Bryce Myburgh (68 70 73), Herman Loubser (70 68 73)
213 – Gareth Sargent AMA (75 67 71), Dongkwan Kim (KOR) (70 71 72)
214 – Makhetha Mazibuko (71 72 71), Harry Konig (ENG) (75 72 67), Ruan Groenewald (72 70 72)
Photo: Lejan Lewthwaite, by CJ du Plessis