KWAZULU-NATAL, South Africa – Germany’s Caroline Masson was remarkably composed on a brutal final day of the South African Women’s Open and went on to claim her maiden victory on the Ladies European Tour.
Masson closed with a bogey-free 70 to win on one-under-par 215, one stroke clear of South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace and England’s Danielle Montgomery.
“I’m so happy. It was such a tough day with the wind,” Masson said of a round which was in doubt because of the gale force winds that battered the Selborne Park Golf Club from the early morning.
At its strongest the wind raged at 81 km/h, and forced a one-hour delay of the tee-off time.
And it was into these conditions that Masson threw her disappointments of several near misses in the past and her hope of a maiden title at last.
She birdied the par-five third for her only birdie of the day. But far more impressive was the fact that she didn’t drop a single shot.
“That was pretty good. I hung in there and made my pars. I got lucky a few times, and I had a few birdie chances but didn’t make those putts. But all in all I’m really happy with the way I played.”
Pace was determined to take advantage of the tough conditions and came close to forcing a play before missing her birdie putt on the 18th on her way to a 70 and a level-par finish.
Pace said: “I played really solid golf from the second round, and when the wind came up I knew I had a chance. I just stayed patient out there and made my pars.” Montgomery closed with a solid 72 to share second on that total.
South Africa’s Melissa Eaton-Jackson also impressed with the tournament low of 68 to climb to three over and a share of ninth.
But it was Masson who showed the greatest composure, leading from the first round on her way to a deserved victory.
“You have to keep patient in these conditions, which is not my strength to be honest. I had a few good chances to win before this, so I just kept focusing on playing my own game and not worrying too much about the leader boards.”
The win is also perfect timing, with the Evian Masters next up on the LET schedule. “I’m feeling very confident. I’ve been waiting for this for such a long time, and the middle of the year is great timing for a victory. It’s also nice to do it in South Africa. This is a beautiful country and we’re all really glad to have the tournament back here.”
As South Africa’s top-ranked player in the field and a key ambassador for this event, Pace echoed Masson’s sentiments: “I think it’s fantastic for South African woman’s golf to have this tournament back here. It’s very exciting times, and all the Europeans are talking about coming back. It’s really good stuff for South Africa.”
The Jackie Mercer Trophy for the leading amateur went to South Africa’s Bertine Strauss, who finished on 12 over par with rounds of 78, 72 and 78.