23 October 2006
The South African team of Ashleigh Simon, Kelli Shean and Stacy Bregman made history at De Zalze when they won the World Amateur Women’s Team Championship after a nail-biting playoff.
They became the first team since 1980 to capture the title on home soil, and also the first African team to ever lift the most prestigious trophy in amateur golf.
In a tournament regarded as the Olympics of amateur golf, many of the 42 participating countries knew little about a team from Africa, with the only internationally recognised player being Ashleigh Simon.
However, after an outstanding first two rounds guided by the experience of Simon and the sheer grit of Shean, they led the field on 11-under-par 277.
With a bold 69 in the third round by Bregman, the South African team suddenly looked like true contenders for the title at 14-under-par 418.
“We felt the pressure, but we knew were a good team and we really wanted to win this trophy,” said Shean.
But the smooth sailing ended after the third round.
The South Africans saw their four-stroke lead disappear early on their front nine with bogey-littered scorecards and a seventh hole that saw all three penciling in a drop for the hole. At the turn, the chances of South African victory started to look grim as Simon double-bogeyed the ninth hole.
Sweden on the charge
By then defending champions Sweden was racing up the leaderboard, once again guided by the unstoppable Caroline Westrup, playing a near-perfect round of three-under-par 69 for the day, backed by Anna Nordqvist, who kept it level on her front nine.
However, it all came down to the back nine when Shean and Simon finally got their nerves settled and got down to business. While Simon kept the boat steady with a level back nine, Shean shot a flurry of birdies, starting with the tenth and finishing with the thirteenth.
Unfortunately, it went south from there after a spell of bogeys by Shean that saw the South African lead ebb away, leaving it all down to the bitter end to save par on the eighteenth to draw level with Sweden on 10-under 566.
‘The hole looked very small’
“The hole looked very small from my position,” Shean said. “But I knew the situation. I knew I had to keep it level for us to have a shot at the title. So I was really happy when it dropped.”
With South Africa and Sweden tied, the tiebreaker rules specified by the International Golf Federation came into play, with the non-counting scores from the final round added to the top two team scores. After that, if the result is still undecided, the rules state that it moves down to the third round’s non-counting scores.
So victory was sealed for South Africa, with the third round score of 73 recorded by Simon outweighing Sofie Andersson’s 77 to put the final stamp of approval on the South Africans’ win.
Colombia came third with nine-under-par 567, followed by France at eight-under 568 and Germany at seven-under 569.
Sweden’s Westrup recorded the top individual score for the tournament on eight-under-par 280.
The World Amateur Men’s Team Champions – the Eisenhower Trophy – starts on 26 October and will be played at the De Zalze and Stellenbosch golf courses.
- T1 South Africa – 566
- T1 Sweden – 566
- 3 Colombia – 567
- 4 France – 568
- T5 Germany – 569
- T5 Japan – 569
- 7 New Zealand – 570
- 8 Spain – 572
- 9 USA – 574
- 10 Chinese Taipei – 576