Britain’s Kiran Matharu was in imperious form at Zwartkop Country Club as she marched to a maiden Sunshine Ladies Tour victory with a commanding performance in the R400 000 Ladies Tshwane Open on Friday.
The Englishwoman fired four birdies on the back nine to post a four-under-par 67 for a winning score of nine over 209, beating defending champion Monique Smit and fellow South African Ashleigh Buhai by an emphatic five strokes.
‘This is what I’ve been working towards since the start of the Sunshine Ladies Tour and to finally lift the trophy is just a fantastic feeling,’ said Matharu.
The 27-year-old took third in her debut at the SuperSport Ladies Challenge, shared second with Buhai at the SA Women’s Masters and closed out a top five finish in the SA Women’s Open last weekend.
The victory catapulted Matharu to the top of the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies standings, while Buhai leapfrogged SA Women’s Masters champion Carrie Park for second place.
‘Well, now I am in with a shout to make the Investec Cup final and that is really great,’ she said. ‘I came down to South Africa to get competitive experience before the season in Europe kicks off and I 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.’
Matharu opened with a 68 and edged three shots clear of Buhai with a 69 in round two. She made a stumbling start on the last day, but managed to offset a brace of bogeys to keep ahead of the field on the front nine.
‘I didn’t play the first nine holes well in any of the rounds, so I knew I needed to stay patient and just protect my lead until we reached the turn,’ said Matharu.
Once she hit the back nine, though, the putter caught fire.
She notched a pair of birdies 13 and 14 and picked up two more gains at 16 and 17. Heading down the final hole, Matharu held a four shot lead over Buhai, but the South African three-putted 18, handing the Englishwomen a five shot celebration.
‘I am really excited to win again,’ Matharu said. ‘The last couple of years was tough. I had injuries to overcome and I started showing some form last year. But it’s not until you put your hands on a trophy that you truly know that you can win again.
‘I want to say a special word on thanks to the greenkeeper and the staff on behalf of all the players they did an amazing job to get the course ready after the flood on Monday. I really enjoyed myself here, especially on the back nine and I’m just so happy right now. Now I just want to keep going.’
Four-time Ladies European Tour winner Rebecca Hudson became the first international champion on the Sunshine Ladies Tour last season and Matharu’s victory takes the foreign champion’s tally to three, coming just two weeks after Park from South Korea triumphed at Rondebosch Golf Club.
Now Matharu hopes to put her hands on another trophy as the Sunshine Ladies Tour heads back to the Mother City for Cape Town Ladies Open next week.
‘I’ve had a fitting and I’m getting my new clubs in Cape Town, so yes, I’m feeling very positive about the Cape Town Ladies Open,’ she said.
‘The clubs have been tailor-made for me, so I shouldn’t have any problems to adjust. We’ve also played in a lot of wind the last three weeks, so I definitely back myself to do well in Cape Town.’
By Lali Stander
204 – Kiran Matharu (ENG) 68 69 67
209 – Monique Smit 70 72 67, Ashleigh Buhai 75 66 68
212 – Nicole Garcia 74 68 70
213 – Nobuhle Dlamini (SWZ) 74 70 69, Kim Williams 72 68 73
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