Kim Williams, South Africa’s number one ranked amateur, will lead the amateur challenge in the South African Women’s Open at Selborne Park Golf Club from 13-15 July.

South Africa’s top women amateurs are relishing the opportunity to test their skills against some of the leading women professionals in the game when they tee it up in this week’s South African Women’s Open at Selborne Park Golf Club.The SA Women’s Open has extended the number of amateur invitations to the tournament and now granted a total of 13 exemptions for the country’s leading amateur golfers, many of whom will be playing in their first professional tournament.The SA Women’s Open is co-sanctioned by the Women’s Professional Golf Association and Ladies European Tour, sponsored by the KwaZulu-Natal Province and hosted by Hibiscus Coast Municipality. It will feature professionals from 20 countries competing at Selborne from 13-15 July.“I think it’s going to be fantastic and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity of measuring myself against the pros,” said Kim Williams, South Africa’s top ranked women’s amateur golfer. “It’s a big step up from the amateur to pro ranks, so the more experience you can gain at that level the better.”Williams has the added incentive of defending the Jackie Mercer Trophy she won for finishing as the leading amateur in the 2009 SA Women’s Open, which was the last time this event was played.“I really enjoyed the experience of playing in the 2009 SA Women’s Open, and I was very disappointed when it fell off the schedule. So I’m delighted it’s back and I hope to win the Jackie Mercer Trophy again.”A successful defence of that title would make Williams only the second amateur in the history of the event to do so. Ashleigh Simon won the Jackie Mercer Trophy a record four consecutive times from 2004 to 2007.Nobuhle Dlamini, the number two ranked amateur in South Africa, is also looking forward to the challenge and is teeing it up in a professional tournament for the first time in her career.“It’s a great opportunity for all the amateurs. We all want to be professionals one day and this is the perfect opportunity for us to measure ourselves against the professional standard. I think the tournament is such a positive step for women’s golf in South Africa. We have so many amateurs at the moment who could compete as professionals.“We want to follow the likes of Lee-Anne Pace and Tandi Cuningham onto the world stage, and this is our opportunity to prove we have what it takes.”Cynthia Rayner, the president of Women’s Golf South Africa, is delighted with the amateur exemptions.“The fact that our amateurs are playing in a co-sanctioned professional tournament is going to mean so much for their experience. Some of these golfers will be going to the Ladies European Tour Qualifying School later this year to try and get their professional cards, so this is the perfect experience for them.”ABOUT THE SA WOMEN’S OPENThe SA Women’s Open is the premier tournament on the South African women’s professional golf calendar, dating back to 1988.It is a 54-hole stroke play professional tournament co-sanctioned by the Women’s Professional Golf Association of South Africa and the Ladies European Tour, with World Sports Promotions as the commercial rights owners.The 2012 tournament will be played over 54 holes at Selborne Park Golf Club in KwaZulu-Natal, with the leading South African professionals competing against an international field for total prize money of €260 000.00.