|Simon celebrates her victory|
Simon is now eligible to receive an exemption to play on the Ladies European Tour for the remainder of the current season as well as for the next three years. She also automatically qualifies to play in the prestigious Evian Masters tournament.
“I don’t have to go to qualifying school now; I can play in tournaments and organise my life better,” said an emotional Simon. “I have a job for the next three years! I don’t have to worry about invites. This just opens so many doors for me.
“I knew I was hitting it good. I knew how to win from back home so a lot of other people in my position might not have handled it as well. But I’m lucky that I’ve got a lot of experience behind me and I’ve played in so many LET tournaments already as an amateur.”
Prior to turning professional, Simon had played in 10 LET events as an amateur. She was the leading amateur at the MFS Women’s Australian Open in February, where she finished in 20th place and she also represented South Africa in all three of the recent Women’s World Cups alongside her compatriot Laurette Maritz.
In addition, she was the youngest player to receive full African colours aged 14, playing No.1 for her country in the Commonwealth tournament; the youngest player to win the ladies’ SA Amateur Stroke Play and Match Play double and the first player in 101 years to win the South African Open title three times.
|Simon in action during the final round|
“I was throwing up from about half-past two to about four o’clock,” she said. “It was something I ate and I thought, “I can’t believe this is happening to me at my first tournament where I’m in contention.” I haven’t eaten much today. I did feel very relaxed out there about which I was very surprised.
“I was just giving myself opportunities all the time. That’s what I needed to do – put the pressure on and let the rest of the field come and get me.”
A steady final round including three birdies on the front nine holes and a solitary bogey at the 12th hole was good enough to see Simon defeat 39 of Europe’s finest professionals. Playing in the penultimate match, she reached the last with a one stroke lead and made an excellent sand save under pressure.
Brewerton, playing in the final pairing, came closest to catching Simon. She was one stroke behind standing on the 18th tee but bogeyed the last after flying the green with her second shot. She eventually carded a 72 to finish runner up for the fourth time.
She said: “I gave it a good go but I just made a couple too many mistakes at holes where I had short irons in. I’ve been struggling to stop the ball from spinning with my wedges so every time it’s been coming back ten yards and it’s been difficult to allow for because a lot of the pins today were difficult to go past.