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10th February 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

USA-bound Theron primed for SLT

Bianca Theron_SLTFormer top ranked SA junior Bianca Theron returned to her vintage best at Humewood Links and issued a warning to her peers an emphatic six stroke victory in the Eastern Province Stroke Play Championship on the weekend.

The 18-year-old Devonvale golfer unfurled an opening eight-under-par 64 to pull seven shots clear of the chasing pack and braved a three-club North-Westerly wind in Port Elizabeth to close with a 76 and seal victory four-under-par 140.

Theron hopes to carry her form to a solid debut when she lines up in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Glendower on Thursday.

“I would really like to learn as much as possible from playing with the professionals on the Sunshine Ladies Tour in the next two months,” Theron said. “One of my goals has been to win the Sanlam SA Women’s Stroke Play or Match Play. I really want to prepare well and give myself a really good chance to challenge in the Stroke Play in April.”

In her opening gambit, Theron offset two bogeys with a pair of birdies to turn in two under, and notched four birdies and an eagle at the 18th to romp to a flawless 31.

“That first round set me up for victory, because the wind howled in the afternoon and the final round was a lot more colourful,” Theron said. “It’s been a while since I competed and I was really excited to get the juices flowing. I still feel a little bit rusty, but I was surprised how quickly I got back into competition mode.

“I just focused executing each shot the way I planned it. My caddie, Alvin van der Merwe, kept me entertained between shots, so I never even thought about my score or the scoreboard.”

The Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation player dominated the junior scene until 2013, and claimed five top 10 finishes in her six starts last year, including a runner-up finish in the Curro SA World Juniors International and sixth in the Pam Golding Properties Western Province Championship.

However, with a golf scholarship to Mississippi State University on the line, golf had to take a back seat in her final year at Stellenberg High School in Durbanville.

The hard work was worth it, though.

In December, Theron captured the prestigious Dr Hasso Plattner Award for a third successive season at the annual Ernie Els & Fancourt Foundation Awards, having achieved an outstanding 87% average.

“I needed a good result to secure the golf scholarship this year, but I also wanted to compete and challenge every time I teed it up,” Theron said. “I hated the conflict but the sacrifice was worth it. I am leaving for Mississippi in August to study BSC Mathematics and join the Bulldog family. Until then, I just want to compete my heart out. It felt so good to get back on the podium in Port Elizabeth.”

Cara Gorlei from Western Province carded rounds of 71 and 75 to take sole second on 146, while current SA number one Ivanna Samu finished a further stroke adrift after rounds of 72 and 75.

Samu, the reigning Sanlam SA Amateur champion, and Gorlei, who won the 2014 Nomads Girls Stroke Play Championship and Nomads SA Rose Bowl, will also join the action at Glendower.

PHOTO – Bianca Theron; credit BLG

9th February 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Duo set for Lost City tussle

Super Sport Challenge

Rookie Monja Richards and seasoned Ladies European Tour campaigner Stacy Bregman top the bill for the final round at Sun City after the pair tied for the lead on one-under-par 71 in the Sun International Ladies Challenge on Monday.

Bregman left the Lost City Golf Course a little frustrated after failing to take advantage at two of the par fives.

The reigning Zambia Ladies Open champion finished the 2014 season just outside the top 10 and narrowly missed qualification for the season-finale Investec Cup for Ladies. She decided to skip the Australia / New Zealand leg of the Ladies European Tour in favour of the Sunshine Ladies Tour this year.

“I want to compete in as many events possible in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies to qualify for the season-finale in March, especially now that we have a R600,000 bonus pool to compete for in addition to the prize money,” Bregman said.

However, it has been eight weeks since her last start, and the 28-year-old is still feeling a little rusty.

Bregman birdied the par-five fourth and short eighth to turn in two under, and was still in good shape after a three-putt bogey at the par-five 11th. She hit a pitching wedge to 15 feet at the par-three 13th and boxed the putt for birdie, but ran into trouble at the par-five 18th.

“I hit a good drive, but I pulled a four-iron a little left,” Bregman said. “I chipped to 25 foot, but I got a bit heavy with the putter and ran it past the hole and then I missed the return. I haven’t competed since Dubai in December, so I’m not sharp enough yet. I need to get the rust off and get into competitive shape, but I am pleased that I’ve made a good start.”

Unheralded Richards, by contrast, was thoroughly pleased to break par at the testing Gary Player-designed championship layout.

The Mpumalanga golfer joined the paid ranks after representing South Africa in the Espirito Santo Trophy at the World Amateur Team Championship in Japan in September last year.

She was quite nervous on the first tee, but got her pro debut underway with a par-eagle start.

“I am playing with a new set of Ping clubs and I wasn’t too sure what to expect, because my swing still felt very loose in the practice round,” said the 27-year-old from Nelspruit. “I hit a good drive down the second and a five-iron approach from 155 meters. We watched the ball pitch a foot from the hole and disappear down the hole. That made my day.”

Richards erased a bogey at the sixth with a tap-in birdie at the eighth to turn two under, and offset some of the damage after back-to-back bogeys at the 15th and 16th with a birdie at the par-five 18th.

“I hit my tee shot too hard into the par-three and I got punished for a bad drive at the 16th,” Richard said. “My goal was to break par, so I laid up with a seven-wood, hit sand-wedge to 18 feet and holed the putt for birdie. It was a nice surprise to find out that I am tied for the lead, but I was just really pleased that I got it around under par.”

The leading pair may need all their guile, though, to stay ahead of Melissa Eaton,

The recent Ladies European Tour graduate was based in the United States for the last couple of years and, other than the Cell C SA Women’s Open, has not competed much in South Africa. She relocated home last year and is based in Port Shepstone. The former Symetra Tour winner offset three bogeys with a pair of birdies for a 73 and will look to hunt down the pacesetters in the final round.

PHOTO – 2014 Zambia Ladies Open champion Stacy Bregman; credit Justin Klusener.

4th February 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Von Ruben hunts Sun City repeat

2014SAWO_TandiCunningham2_SLTTandi von Ruben hopes to relive the magical moments of a career changing victory in her title defence at the Sun International Ladies Challenge at Sun City next week.

The petite Randpark professional heads a strong field that includes Ladies European Tour campaigner Stacy Bregman, two-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion Monique Smit and 2015 LET Q-School graduate Nicole Garcia in the R100,000 event at Lost City from 9-10 February.

Von Ruben had taken up a teaching position at the Martin Whitcher Golf School at Randpark Golf Club in 2013 after being forced to throw in the towel in Europe.

However, the victory 12 months ago broke a five-year title drought for the former South Africa Women’s Open champion and re-ignited her career.

Von Ruben defeated amateur Madga Kruger at the first extra hole of a sudden-death play-off after both players tied on one-under-par 143 in regulation play. She notched a further six top five finishes in the Chase to the Investec Cup to qualify for the Investec Cup for Ladies.

A third place finish in the season-finale at Lost City, and fifth in the Zambia Ladies Open took her to third in the final Order of Merit.

“I earned almost R75,000 in three months,” Von Ruben said. “It sounds like a drop in the bucket, but let me tell you, it goes a long way at home. Having local events has definitely given all of us players something to work hard for again.

“The last event I competed in on the Ladies European Tour was in Czech Republic. I finished in the top 25 and earned around €2,400, but after taxes, levies and expenses for the week, I barely cleared R6,000. It wasn’t near enough to get me to the next event, let alone pay the insurance on my car.

“That’s when I decided to pack it in and to teach at home. So, you can imagine how exciting it was when the Sunshine Ladies Tour launched last year.

“It’s so fantastic to compete again and this year our circuit is even bigger, with more prize money and incentives to play for. Of course I’d love to go back to Europe at some stage, but it’s absolutely brilliant to have our own Tour and to keep competitive at home.”

Von Ruben intends to play the full schedule, including the new Cape Town Ladies Open and the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am.

“The prize money increase for the Dimension Data Pro-Am is a huge incentive to travel to George and I am playing everything else, because I want to make the final field for the Investec Cup for Ladies again.

“I hope to get off to a fast start at Lost City and build from there. Investec has really upped the ante in the Chase to the Investec Cup with the bonus pool of R600,000, so we have it all to play for this year.”

In addition to the country’s top ranked professionals, a large group of international contenders will also be vying for position in the season-opener. Rebecca Hudson leads a group of six English players, including Lauren Taylor, Lucy Williams, Anna Scott, Charlotte Ellis and Kirsty Fisher, while Eva Steinberger from Austria, Swiss player Hermoine Fitzgerald, Nobuhle Dlamini from Swaziland, Sweden’s Nora Kagonvera and Bonita Bredenhann from Namibia will also line up at the Gary Player designed championship layout.

Top ranked Kaleigh Telfer and Shawnelle de Lange will lead the amateur challenge at Sun City.

PHOTO – 2014 Sun International Ladies Challenge champion Tandi von Ruben; credit Justin Klusener.

29th January 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Simon and Reto launch 2015 season in Florida

Sunshine Ladies Tour Blue Valley  on Friday 14 March 2014Three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Asheigh Simon and compatriot Paula Reto got their 2015 season underway in the LPGA Tour’s Coates Championship on Wednesday.

Simon carded an opening seven-over-par 79 to tie for 10th, while Reto returned an 80 for a share of 112th at the Golden Ocola Golf and Equestrian Club in Florida.

Top ranked Stacy Lewis, Azahara Munoz and Jessica Korda managed to complete the first round before darkness fell and the failing light forced 20 players off the course.

The trio share the first round lead on six under 66.

Lewis birdied five or her last six holes, Korda notched three birdies over the last five holes and Munoz finished with back-to-back gains to finish one shot clear of early pacesetters Austin Ernst and Ha Na Yang.

Simon dropped shots at the first, third and sixth holes, but shaved a shot off the deficit with a birdie at the par-three fourth. The Joburg pro bogeyed the 10th and 13th, but double bogeys either side of a birdie at the par-three second saw her complete the back nine in 41 strokes.

Reto, who finished her first season on the LPGA Tour ranked seventh on the Rookie List, offset five bogeys and two double bogeys with back-to-back birdies at the 10th and 11th.

Reigning Investec Cup champion Lee-Anne Pace gave the season-opener a miss.

The Pearl Valley golfer, who won the LPGA Blue Bay and ended the 2014 season with a 38th place ranking, will play the Ladies Masters at Royal Pines Resort in Australia from February 12-15.

The Cell C SA Women’s Open champion will line up alongside 2014 Ladies European Tour winner Charley Hull and three-time winner Laura Davies from England, defending champion Cheyenne Woods from America and Australia’s Katherine Kirk.

PHOTO – Three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion, Ashleigh Simon; credit Catherine Kotza / SASPA.

26th January 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Di-Data raises stakes

2014SAWO_MoniqueSmit_SLTDimension Data has raised the bar for this year’s Dimension Data Ladies Pro-am in George with the announcement of a R50,000 prize money increase. The fourth event in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies in February will boast a total purse of R225,000, with R200,000 on offer in the main event and R25,000 to play for in the pro-am component.

Last year’s champion, Monique Smit, welcomed the padded purse ahead of her title defence from 21-22 February 2015.

“This is only the second edition of the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am and it is really exciting that we will have an even bigger purse to compete for this year,” said Smit, who also lifted the SuperSport Challenge title last year.

Southern Cape’s Smit delighted the home crowds when she defeated LPGA Tour card-holder Ashleigh Simon for the title in the inaugural event last year. Smit is relishing the chance to challenge for back-to-back victories at Oubaai Golf Club and the Outeniqua course at Fancourt and said the increased prize money raises the stakes for the Garden Route event significantly.

“The increased purse makes the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-am a really attractive event for all the local and international players,” she said.

“It’s not just more money to play for, but the increased purse equates to more points on offer for the Chase to the Investec Cup and that really raises the stakes.”

As one of the longest standing sponsors of the Sunshine Tour, Dimension Data executive chairman Jeremy Ord said the company was delighted to extend its support of professional golf to include the Sunshine Ladies Tour.

“We are very proud to be part of the resurgence in women’s professional golf in South Africa,” Ord said. “The 2014 Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am was a fantastic experience for spectators and competitors alike. We were treated to world-class golf played on two top courses and it was fascinating to watch the battle between Monique and Ashleigh unfold on the final day.

“Our pro-am guests thoroughly enjoyed challenging alongside the ladies, which was also a new and novel experience for them. We decided to increase the prize money for our Sunshine Tour’s event and it naturally followed that we should do the same for the Sunshine Ladies Tour.”

Women’s PGA of South (WPGA) chairperson, Margie Whitehouse, also welcomed the increased prize money.

“The extended support from Dimension Data further enhances what promises to be an exciting summer for women’s professional golf,” Whitehouse said.

“We are really excited about raised purse for the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am. Combined with the R600,000 bonus pool in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies and our new Cape Town Ladies Open, our players have so much more to play for this year.

“It’s just 12 months since we launched the Sunshine Ladies Tour, yet our sponsors have already showed added interest and support for the Tour. This bodes extremely well for the future of women’s professional golf in South Africa.”

Smit will headline the field in George alongside reigning Zambia Ladies Open champion Stacy Lee Bregman.

09 – 10 Sun International Ladies Challenge
Lost City Golf Course
R 100 000

12 – 13 Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies
Glendower Golf Club
R 100 000

21 – 22 Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am*
Oubaai Golf Club & Fancourt Outeniqua
R200 000 prize fund & R25 000 pro-am prize fund

25 – 26 Cape Town Ladies Open
Royal Cape Golf Club
R 100 000

09 – 10 Supersport Ladies Challenge
Zwartkop Country Club
R 100 000

16 – 17 Ladies Tshwane Open
Pretoria Country Club
R 100 000

20 – 22 Investec Cup for Ladies
Millvale Private Retreat & Lost City Golf Course
R100 000 prize fund & R600 000 bonus pool

PHOTO – 2014 Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am champion, Monique Smit, will be defending her title in George this February; credit Justin Klusener.

24th November 2014 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Heartache for Pace and Chen

2014SAOP_Lee_AnnePace5SLTSouth Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace was forced to withdraw from her last LPGA Tour start of the season, while Connie Chen’s second title bid on the Ladies European Tour was thwarted by Chinese Taipei amateur Ssu-Chia Cheng.


Pace pulled a back muscle during the practice round of the CME Group Tour Championship, but teed it up at the Tiburon Golf Club nonetheless. She carded an opening two-over-par 74 to finish eight off the pace, but had to retire from the LPGA Tour’s season-finale and the $1 million jackpot that goes with it.


“I was pretty disappointed to have to withdraw,” said the reigning Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies leader from Naples, Florida.


“I fought really hard to make the field for the Tour Championship. My back felt okay during the round, but after I cooled off, the muscle seized up. I decided to rather play it safe, but it was a let-down.


“I didn’t want to cause myself further injury, though. I have a full season ahead of me on the LPGA Tour next year. It starts really early and I would rather be fighting fit for next season.”


The Pearl Valley golfer is not returning home empty-handed, though.


Pace was among the seven first-time winners this season honoured during the Rolex Awards Celebration on Thursday night at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort.


She won the Blue Bay LPGA in October to join the maiden winner’s list alongside Mi Hyang Lee (Mizuno Classic), Austin Ernst (Portland Classic), Mirim Lee (Meijer LPGA Classic), Lizette Salas (Kingsmill Championship), Lydia Ko (Swinging Skirts LPGA Classic) and Ricoh Women’s British Open champion, Mo Martin.


The youthful Lydia Ko tapped in for par on the fourth sudden-death playoff hole to win the Race to the CME Globe and the CME Group Tour Championship for a $1.5 million windfall and net the biggest payday in women’s golf history. 


Ko guaranteed herself the $1 million and inaugural Race to the CME Globe, but went back to the 18th with her third Tour win of the year on her mind. She got it, making four consecutive pars to outlast Carlota Ciganda and Julieta Granada.


Meanwhile Chen, playing on the other side of the world, was well placed take her second title after winning the Tenerife Open de Espana in September.


She took a one-shot lead in the inaugural Xiamen Open after an opening 68 and held on for a share of pole position with Cheng and Chloe Leurquin from Belgium after carding a 70 in the second round.


The 21-year-old Pretoria professional faltered in the final round, though, returning a 76 to finish in a tie for 11th on two under 214 with England’s Charley Hull and Leurquin, among others.


Reigning Zambia Ladies Open champion Stacy Bregman (75-72) reeled in five birdies around the turn at the Orient Golf and Country Club to close with a 69 and a share of 24th on two under 214.


Two-time Ladies European Tour winner Ashleigh Simon finished on 218 in joint 32nd place after rounds of 71, 73 and 74.


PHOTO – Lee-Anne Pace; credit Justin Klusener.

22nd November 2014 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Chen holds on in China

2014SAWO_ConnieChen3_SLTSouth Africa’s Connie Chen held on for a share of the lead in Saturday’s second round of the Xiamen Open at the Orient Golf and Country Club in China.


The recent Tenerife Open de Espana champion followed an opening 68 in the inaugural €250,000 with a two-under-par 70 to share pole position with Belgium’s Chloe Leurquin and amateur Ssu-Chia Cheng from Chinese-Taipei.


LET rookie Leurquin and Cheng both vaulted into contention with rounds of 68.


Two-time LET winner Ashleigh Simon started the second round three off the pace and slipped to joint 25th after a 73 in the second round.


Compatriot Stacy-Lee Bregman looked in danger of missing the cut after an opening 75, but the Country Club Johannesburg pro rallied with an even-par 72 to finish two shots inside the cut-line on three over 147.


Chen to return a spotless card after reeling in birdies at the par-four sixth and par-three 11th.


“My long game wasn’t great today and I struggled off the tee over the front nine,” the 22-year-old said.


“I got it going on the back nine, but I hit a bad three-wood off the tee at the 12th again. I was left with an uphill putt for par from about seven meters and the ball just hung on the lip. It fell after about five seconds, so that was a quite entertaining.”


Simon, by contrast, had an adventurous tour around the par-72 championship layout.


The three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion was four over after bogeys at the first, second, fifth and sixth holes and reeled in six straight pars before her first birdie putt fell at the par-four 13th.


The 23-year-old Joburg pro also bogeyed the 14th, but responded with back-to-back birdies at the 15th and 16th to finish on even-par 144.


Bregman racked in 15 straight pars in the first round and was equally solid in round two.


Starting on the back nine, the reigning Zambia Ladies Open champion bogeyed the par-four 13th and turned one over.


She parred the first six holes on the front nine before dropping her second shot at the seventh, but hit back immediately with an eagle three at the eighth to get back to level par.


Bregman vaulted to a tie for 48th after closing with another par at the long ninth.


PHOTO – Connie Chen; credit Justin Klusener.

17th October 2014 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Another tough day at San Lameer

2014SAWO_MelissaEatonAnother tough day of weather has seen Friday’s second round of the Cell C South African Women’s Open cancelled and the tournament reduced to 54 holes.


Thursday’s first round had to be suspended for similar conditions, forcing the round to be completed on Friday morning. The second round teed off at 8:30am before winds gusting at 40 kilometres per hour and bouts of rain rendered the course unplayable, and another suspension was called at 11:10am. At 13:00, with conditions not improving, Ladies European Tour Tournament Director Michael Wood made the announcement cancelling the second round.


“We’ve come to the conclusion that the fairest decision for the players is to cancel round two. So all second round scores that were posted have been cancelled. A new second round will commence at 6:15 on Saturday morning, and the tournament has been reduced to 54 holes. We got to a stage where if we were to restart today a number of players wouldn’t start round two in these conditions and would come back and play it afresh in completely different conditions,” Wood said.


England’s Charley Hull took the first round lead with her four-under-par 68 in the worst of the conditions on Friday morning. She is one clear of England’s Rebecca Hudson and Germany’s Steffi Kirchmayr.


“I actually like playing in the wind and rain, but it was a bit extreme out there,” said Hull. “It was blowing a gale out there, but I dug deep and played well.”


Hull went straight from finishing her first round and into her second, and she immediately birdied the first to climb to five under and two clear of the field. She was through six holes when play was suspended.


“I played those six holes in crazy weather, and was pretty happy with one under. Then they called the second round off, which people have mixed ideas about. It’s a shame because I managed to get it to five under for the tournament, but I only miss out on one shot.”


Hull finished second in this event last year, which was played in even worse conditions and which had to be reduced to 18 holes.


“I don’t mind these conditions. I find golf so much more fun when it’s rainy and windy. I love it because I feel like I’m a grinder and can try my hardest and post a good score.”


Melissa Eaton leads the South African challenge with a first round of two-under-par 70, while Lee-Anne Pace signed for a first round of one-under 71.


“I chipped really well and made all the crucial putts,” said Pace. “I hit some good shots out there and am just keeping it low in the wind all the time. I’m hitting my driver very straight and I’m relying on that a lot. You’ve just got to make the best of a bad situation and stay as close as possible to the lead.”


Photo – Melissa Easton; credit Justin Klusener
Written by Michael Vlismas – Michael Vlismas Media

7th August 2014 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

A quick nine with Nobby Dlamini

2014SLTICL_NobuhleDlaminiFormer SA number one amateur, Nobuhle Dlamini, earned Category 8a membership on the Ladies European Tour when she tied for fourth at the Lalla Aicha Tour School Final Qualifying in Morocco.


Dlamini finished ninth on the Sunshine Ladies Tour Order of Merit and midway through the season, she ranks 123rd with earnings of €4,597 after eight starts. With an average of 268 yards, the Swazi golfer is one of the longest hitters on the LET.


The Ladies European Tour media office caught up with Dlamini ahead of the Sberbank Golf Masters in the Czech Republic.


Tell us about your journey so far on the Ladies European Tour.
I went back home after Morocco and started to practice hard. I come from Swaziland, so that is home, but I actually practice and stay in South Africa. This is also where I studied. I normally practice at Glendower Golf Club. I played six tournaments on the Ladies Sunshine Tour. It was great experience, great practice and I did a lot of goof preparation for Europe. 


How did you first tournament go?
The Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco was my first event. It was my first event outside of South Africa as a pro and in the end I realized that there were a lot of things to learn. The first two days I actually played well. I had great playing partners, the hospitality was great and I just loved everyone there. I loved being on the professional circuit.
I went home after Morocco and played more events on the Sunshine Ladies Tour. Then it was back to Europe for tournaments in Turkey, Holland, Slovakia, Italy, England, Germany and the Czech Republic.


Tell us about your game and how it has changed since beginning of the year.
I have made a few changes to my swing and I struggled a little bit, but it is getting better. I am feeling much more comfortable at the moment. I have been also working on my long game, as I started hitting a lot of shots sideways. I hit it quite long, but I was struggling with the irons and didn’t hit many fairways. The main problem has been my driving accuracy. The putting is not too bad, but when it is under stress, it gets a little worse.


Tell us about your travel experiences.
It is been a very different from what I am used to. When the tournaments are so close to one another, you have to get creative with your travel plans. Everything is a little bit more complicated, because visas take so long. Sometimes, if there is something little missing, you have to communicate with someone from the office and that can be a real mission. The LET has been good to me, helping me out with arrangements.
I will go home at the end of July for a short break. I’ve missed home, but it is not as hard as I imagined. I have a lot of friends and I normally travel with Nicole Garcia. Life in Europe is completely different from South Africa. I am really enjoying it! If you need a taxi, you take it, but it can be expensive sometimes. Most of the time you can take a shuttle bus, though, and that’s great!


What are your plans for the rest of the summer?
I will spend more time with my coach in August and do all the personal stuff that I can’t do when I am on tour.


What are your goals for this year?
My goal is to improve my stroke average and get it to 71. If I can do that, I will be happy. 


With thanks to the Ladies European Tour. Photo credit – Petri Oeschger


21st July 2014 | Sunshine Ladies Tour

Terrific upshots for Pace and Garcia

2014CICLG_LeeAnnePace6SLTSouth Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace vaulted into the top 60 on the LPGA Tour’s Official Money List with a top four finish at the Marathon Classic in Ohio, while Ladies European Tour rookie Nicole Garcia broke a run of missed cuts to earn her first cheque in Germany on Sunday.


Pace carded a final round 71 at the Highland Meadows Golf Club to join American Kelly Tan and Katherine Kirk from New Zealand in fourth on 11-under-par 273. The trio finished four shots behind 17-year-old Lydia Ko from New Zealand, who edged out South Korea’s So Yeon Ryu with a flawless 65 to triumph on 15-under-par 269.


Ko’s $210,000 first place cheque makes her the youngest player to earn $1-million on the LPGA circuit, but Pace’s share of fourth paid off handsome dividends, too.


Just seven days after Pace broke into the top 90 on the Money List in the USA and rose 10 spots to 92nd in the LPGA Tour’s Race to the CME Globe with a tie for 29th at the Ricoh British Women’s Open, the 33-year-old Pearl Valley golfer enjoyed another huge climb in the rankings.


The eight-time LET champion only has limited starts on the LPGA Tour in 2014, but a season’s best performance in Ohio has brought her a lot closer to a full card for 2015. A cheque worth nearly $60,000 (approximately R637,000) lifted the reigning Investec Cup for Ladies champion to 57th on the Money List and boosted her to 63rd in the CME rankings.


Pace held a share of the overnight lead with American Laura Diaz after rounds of 66, 66 and 68.


She parred the first three holes, but slipped from contention after a bogey at the par-four fourth. She played the next five holes to par to turn in one over, and rallied with a birdie at the par-three 11th to move to third on her own. Pace slipped out of contention again after back-to-back bogeys at the 14th and 15th holes, but rallied once again with a birdie at the 16th and got herself back in the top four with a birdie at the par-five 18th.


Compatriot Paula Reto also carded an even-par 71 to tie for 66th on one over 285, while three-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Ashleigh Simon closed with a 69 for a share of 71st on three over 287.


2014CICLG_NicoleGarcia1_SLTMeanwhile Garcia joined compatriots Stacy Lee Bregman and fellow LET rookie Kim Williams on the weekend at Ladies German Open near Munich.


The Sunshine Ladies Tour regular bookended 72s in the second and third rounds with an opening 68 and a closing 76 at the Wörthsee Golf Club to finish on even-par 288. After five straight missed cuts, making the weekend meant far more to the 23-year-old from Ebotse Golf Estate than her share of 58th, worth €787.50 (approximately R11,300).


“I’ve been plagued with nerves in my previous starts,” Garcia said. “It was great to make it to the weekend and I think I finally got the monkey off my back.”


Bregman followed back-to-back 70s with a 73 and a 68 and Williams returned rounds of 72, 68, 67 and 74 to tie for 36th on seven-under-par 281. The pair finished 19 shots behind Scotland’s Kylie Walker, who defeated Charley Hull from England at the first play-off hole to clinch the title.


PHOTOS – Lee-Anne Pace and Nicole Garcia; credit Dale Boyce.