Lejan makes spectacular splash at SA Women’s Open
Benoni amateur Lejan Lewthwaite put a loud exclamation point on her amateur career when she lifted the Jackie Mercer Trophy in the 2015 SA Women’s Open on the Hibiscus Coast on Tuesday.
The 24-year-old Wanna Be A Champion player made the best possible start to the 2016 Sunshine Ladies Tour when she closed with an even-par 72 to lead the amateur field with a runner-up finish in the prestigious national championship at San Lameer Country Club.
Lewthwaite lagged eight strokes behind LPGA Tour winner Lee-Anne Pace at the start of the final round, but reduced the gap on the defending champion with a few early birdies.
Both players dropped shots on the back nine before Pace wrapped up her second consecutive victory with a 76 to triumph on four over 219.
“I am just over the moon with this result and I can’t believe I finished just three strokes behind Lee-Anne,” Lewthwaite said.
“It was an awesome experience playing with her and Kim Williams. I am so proud that I could overcome the nerves and hold my own in the tough conditions and even have a little run at Lee-Anne.
“It was wonderful to watch Lee-Anne up close, to chat to her and get to know her a little. She really is an amazing golfer and a great inspiration.
“It is such an honour to add my name to players like Ashleigh Simon, Kim Williams and Bertine Strauss on the Jackie Mercer Trophy. I couldn’t have finished my amateur career on a greater note. Now I am really excited to start make my pro debut on the Sunshine Ladies Tour in January.”
Lewthwaite may have missed out on the second place cheque, but she gained a tidy foothold in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies in the first counting event.
Pace earned 400 points and Lewthwaite 320 points towards the 2016 Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies in the first counting event and the 80 point difference has the Texas State University graduate champing at the bid to launch her pro career.
“Lee-Anne has told us that she will be competing on the LPGA Tour early next year,” Lewthwaite said.
“She will only play four events, which means that if I can make a solid start in the Ladies Joburg Open and the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Houghton Golf Club, I can build up a nice cushion before she gets back.
“My goal next season is to make the top 10 that will compete for the R1-million bonus pool. It’s not just about playing for such a big purse, but I believe it will go a long way to motivate our juniors to stay the course and stick with the game.
“The amateurs finally have a circuit where they, too, can learn and experience the bigger stage and I hope I can encourage more girls to take up the game.”
Meanwhile reigning Sanlam SA Women’s Stroke Play champion Ivanna Samu was one of only two players to break par on the final day.
The 17-year-old Ruimsig golfer matched big-hitting Ladies European Tour campaigner Bonita Bredenhann’s one-under-par 71 to finish seventh on 230.
Azelia Meichtry from Switzerland closed with an 80 to finish on 234, edging out reigning Nomads SA Rose Bowl champion Chiara Contomathios by one stroke for third place in the amateur field.