It was a second successive triumph for the Benoni golfer, who claimed a play-off victory against Tandi Cunningham in the SuperSport Ladies Challenge, presented by Sun International, at the Gary Player Country Club last week.
Lewthwaite opened the tournament with a stunning six-under-par 66 at George Golf Club and produced a four-under 68 on her second trip around the scenic Parklands layout to carry an eight-shot lead into final round at the Outeniqua Course.
She got off to a birdie start and briefly gave the chasing pack a glimmer of hope when she bogeyed five and nine.
Defending champion Nobuhle Dlamini reeled in a trio of birdies before the turn, but her challenge faded with a bogey at the par five 11th. Emie Peronin from France also gave chase, as did former winner Stacey Bregman, but it was all too little, too late.
The 28 year old Lewthwaite, who had been remarkably poised all week, did not let adversity upset her rhythm and she restored her lead with back-to-back birdies on 10 and 11.
Having regained the momentum, the Serengeti member shut the door on her pursuers with further gains on 13 and 14 and came home with three solid pars for a one-over 73.
“I can’t describe how happy I am in this moment. For six days really, I played awesome golf; first at Sun City and then here in George. I am just so happy right now,” said Lewthwaite, cradling the trophy that comes with winner’s cheque worth R84 000.
No victory in professional golf comes easy, and wire-to-wire victories are perhaps even more difficult, as they require a player to deal with the inevitable thoughts of winning for days on end.
“I’d say I was pretty happy with my position after the first day, but I don’t allow myself to think too far ahead. I try very hard to stay in the moment as much as possible. I try to stick to my process and hit every shot where I plan to and make every putt count.
“I played another great round on the second day, and I thought to myself, ‘just continue with your strategy, your plan and the way you’re playing.’
“I did briefly wonder how it would feel if I won, and also what my strategy would be if the gap was reduced, but I always made sure I didn’t let my thoughts drift too far. It would be a fleeting thought, and then I’d be back in the zone.”
The victory cemented Lewthwaite’s number one spot in the Investec Order of Merit and she is another step closer to collecting the R100 000 bonus. She leads on 1 390 points and is nearly 500 points ahead of Dlamini.
Meanwhile Stacy Bregman carded 71 for a one-under total, making it a one-two finish of the Investec stable on one-under. Peronnin took third on level par and Dlamini had to settle for fourth on one-over after closing with 75.
Lewthwaite now travels to San Lameer Country Club with the Sunshine Ladies Tour, where she will gun for a hat-trick of titles when she takes up her title defence in the SA Women’s Masters.
“There will be some celebrations tonight, but probably not too late,” said Lewthwaite, who will also be celebrating a runner-up finish with amateur partner Marj Davidson.
The pair posted rounds of 66, 68 and 68 for an impressive 14-under total, but Lewthwaite lost out on an additional R30 000 pay-day to Sharmila Nicollet. The Indian golfer and her partner Nicci Taylor fired a superb 64 at the Outeniqua Course to seal victory on 15-under.
(All competitors RSA unless otherwise stated and amateurs are indicated AMA)
207 - Lejan Lewthwaite 66 68 73
215 - Stacy Bregman 70 74 71
216 - Emie Peronnin (FRA) 73 74 69
217 - Nobuhle Dlamini (SWZ) 74 68 75
218 - Monique Smit 73 71 74, Jordy LaBarbera (USA) 71 73 74
220 - Michaela Fletcher 76 72 72
221 - Lee-Anne Pace 72 72 77
222 - Anais Meyssonnier (FRA) 73 76 73, Casandra Hall 73 72 77, Bonita Bredenhann (NAM) 77 69 76
223 - Cara Gorlei 79 71 73, Maria Beautell (ESP) 71 76 76, Lauren Taylor (ENG) 74 78 71, Bertine Faber 75 70 78
225 - Bianca Lohbauer (a) 74 76 75, Tara Griebenow 73 76 76, Lindi Coetzee 71 75 79, Kelsey Nicholas 72 74 79
226 - Jane Turner (SCO) 75 76 75, Jessica Dreesbeimdieke (NAM) 79 72 75, Sharmila Nicollet (IND) 75 77 74
228 - Flora Peuch (FRA) 79 73 76, Woo-Ju Son (KOR) 77 72 79
229 - Kyle Roig (PUR) 78 74 77, Christina Gloor (SUI) 79 73 77, Caroline Rominger (SUI) 75 75 79, Sophie Lamb (ENG) 75 73 81
231 - Rosie Davies (ENG) 79 75 77, Leticia Ras-Anderica (GER) 77 77 77
232 - Tandi McCallum 77 77 78
233 - Anne-Lise Caudal (FRA) 76 78 79
239 - Shawnelle de Lange 78 74 87