SA duo make their mark on LPGA Tour

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iol spt apr29 ashleigh simon Gallo Images South Africans Ashleigh Simon, pictured, and Paula Reto enjoyed a fortuitous fortnight in the United States, as both players cashed in at the last two events on the LPGA Tour. File photo:Shaun Roy

Johannesburg – South Africans Ashleigh Simon and Paula Reto enjoyed a fortuitous fortnight in the United States, as both players cashed in at the last two events on the LPGA Tour.

LPGA rookie Reto claimed her first cheque with a tie for 22nd at the LPGA Lotte Championship in Hawaii last week, while Simon wrapped up a top 15 finish at the inaugural Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic on Sunday.

Having missed the cut in her first four starts, Reto posted rounds of 72 and 69 at the Ko Olina Golf Club in Kapolei to earn her first weekend start. The Purdue University graduate followed with two impressive 73s and finished on one-under-par 287, 13 shots behind winner, Michelle Wie.

Simon, meanwhile, had a short week in Hawaii, and was on the reserve list in San Francisco.

However, the three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner got the call and barely had the time to find a replacement for regular caddie David Buhai, before she had to tee it up at Lake Merced Golf Club.

Simon made excellent use of the opportunity, though.

The 23-year-old Johannesburg pro navigated her way around the par-72 layout in rounds of 73, 70, 73 and 72 to tie for 15th on even-par 288.

“It's just crazy how things happen in life,” said an elated Simon from San Francisco after adding a welcome $24,595 (approx. R260 000) to her bank account.

“I had an absolutely awesome week in San Francisco. I went from being second reserve on Thursday morning to getting into the tournament, had 20 minutes to find a caddie and to tee it up and ended up having my best finish so for on the LPGA Tour.

“A huge thanks to Lee Griffiths for stepping up at the last minute and for a great four days at Lake Merced.”

Simon won the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Glendower and Blue Valley and triumphed in the Tshwane Ladies Open on the Sunshine Tour before leaving for the United States.

She tied for 32nd at the Kia Classic in her third start and the top 15 finish lifted Simon to 71st on the LPGA Money list with earnings of $35,554 (approx. R375 500) in five starts. – Sapa

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