Ashleigh Simon has something in common with Denis Hutchinson; that is, she has won the SA Open as an amateur but not as a professional.
There’s not much Hutch, recently turned 80, can do about that but Ashleigh certainly can.
She’ll be one of the favourites when the tournament gets under way at Selborne Park from July 13 to 15.
She said she was feeling comfortable with her game at the moment and was starting to come back into some form. “I've been working on getting my swing a little shorter,” she said.
Ashleigh will no doubt draw from her past two victories. “I think the difference back then was that I played carefree golf and that's what I’m going to try do this week,” she said.
Not surprisingly, after a number of years on tour, Ashleigh feels that she’s a better player all round and that her ball striking has improved immensely, as well as her variety of shots around the greens. Her highlight so far this season was a sixth place finish in Switzerland.
As far as picking a favourite for the tournament, Ashleigh was non-committal.
“It's difficult to single anyone out but it is great to see some of the bigger names coming out from the Europe Tour, for example Becky Brewerton, Gwladys Nocera, Anne-lise Caudal, Lindsay Wright and of course SA’s Lee-Anne Pace,” she said.
The tournament is very special to her as she has won it twice.
“Now it’s even better as I get to play it as a professional. Being a LET event is huge for South African women’s golf.”
Ashleigh could even be considered something of a ‘local’, having played Selborne many times in her youth.
“We had a holiday place in Scottburgh, 15 minutes away from Selborne, so I played most of my holiday golf there from the age of eight to 15. My best memories are playing with my Dad and his mates and taking their cash,” she laughed.