Home hopes Nicole Garcia and Stacy Bregman are looking for a banquet of birdies in the Investec South African Women’s Open at Westlake Golf Club in Cape Town over the next three days, for two good reasons.

Aside from claiming their national championship for the first time, the Johannesburg pair want to raise a record amount for their chosen charity, Birdies 4 Rhinos.

Five-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Stacy Bregman, who is also the Investec Property Fund Order of Merit leader, explained: “The reason that I’m involved with Birdies 4 Rhinos it that they are being poached and they are on the endangered species list. If one animal disappears it will destroy everything. It will affect the entire ecosystem. I’m a soft person and I love wildlife. I think it’s a great cause. We need to stop Rhino poaching and animal cruelty. I donate 50 Rand a birdie at every single tournament I play in throughout the world because I want to.”

Garcia said: “Both myself and Stacy are involved with Birdies 4 Rhinos. As one of the Big Five, the Rhino is an important part of African wildlife and we need to try to save as many as we can.”

The desire to win for Garcia is especially strong in 2018. Her season last year was derailed in a freak injury right after the Women’s British Open in August that could have ended her professional golf career.

“I slammed my finger in a car door, and when I pulled it out I pulled the finger off,” Garcia explained. “I mean, I pulled the bone and everything off. I was out for what was supposed to be 10 weeks, but I ended up playing after six weeks. I had to play with a protective finger sock on, but it wasn’t too bad.

“It looks semi-normal now. The surgeon I had was incredible. If I didn’t tell you that I pulled my finger off, you wouldn’t be able to tell. I don’t have any pain and it doesn’t affect my play. The very first event I played after my injury I came top-10.”

She opted to fly to Australia when she was offered a position in the Oates Vic Open, but missed the cut by one, so it is with renewed conviction that she returns to Westlake, where she feels at home.

“We come to Cape Town quite often and are friends with some of the members, so have played this course quite often. Honestly, it’s in the best condition and is one of the best courses in Cape Town. It’s home for us; it’s the SA Open and it’s Investec which is one of our sponsors, so it’s really important,” said Garcia.

Bregman added: “It’s a huge event, it’s our national open and I think that Investec and the LET and Sunshine Ladies Tour have done a fabulous job to get this event going again.

“What a great area to be in: Westlake, Cape Town. My family is coming down and I’m leading the order of merit, so it’s a big week.”

Garcia said she and LET travel partner Bregman have a bet going that will hopefully see both ending the season on the Sunshine Ladies Tour with victories to their names.

“Stacy and I made a bet that we’ll go to Mauritius if we both win this season. She’s already won, so it’s my turn now!”

It would take a brave soul to bet against Garcia being near the top of the pile as she once again stakes a claim for a place among the marquee players in South African golf.