9th March 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Pace back on happy hunting ground
Pace fulfilled a life-long dream when she claimed a play-off victory in the season-opening Cell C South African Womenâ€™s Open in October last year.
A mere eight days later, the reigning Investec Cup for Ladies champion then inked her name in the record books as the first South African to win on the LPGA Tour in 26 years when she lifted the Blue Bay LPGA in China.
After two weeks in Australasia to start her season and a top 15 in Thailand, the Pearl Valley golfer flew straight back from the HSBC Womenâ€™s Champions in Singapore on Sunday night to challenge on home soil.
â€œI was leading the Chase to the 2015 Investec Cup for Ladies when I left, but the girls have been very busy in the last couple of weeks,â€ said Pace.
The nine-time Ladies European Tour (LET) winner surrendered the top spot to Stacy Bregman, who notched a hat-trick of victories in the Sun International Ladies Challenge, Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am and Cape Town Ladies Open.
Sunshine Ladies Tour rookie Melissa Eaton, Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies champion Nicole Garcia, recent Sunshine Ladies Tour Open winner Ashleigh Simon and English players Lucy Williams and Rebecca Hudson also leapfrogged the world number 30.
Bregman will miss this week and the Ladies Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club next week, while Simon leaves for the LPGA on Wednesday evening.
Hudson also headed back to Europe to prepare for the LETâ€™s Lalla Meryem Cup in Morocco at the end of March, but Pace still feels she needs to pull out all the stops in the next fortnight.
â€œIâ€™ve slipped to seventh in the rankings, so you bet Iâ€™m going all out,â€ said Pace.
â€œWith the new points system, you need to get a top five finish to protect your ranking to finish in the top 10 for the Investec Cup for Ladies and I am not taking any chances.â€
Pace has set her sights on achieving more personal glory this week.
She knows she canâ€™t regain the number one ranking before the season finale at Millvale Private Retreat and the Lost City Golf Course at Sun City in two weeks, but she intends to reel in as many points as possible.
â€œI always perform better under pressure, so I will be gunning for victories,â€ she said.
â€œThere are 250 points up for grabs for a win, which will go a long way in getting me closer to Stacy. My game is feeling good, but I just hope I can combat the jetlag and perform as well as I hope to at Zwartkop.â€
PHOTO â€“ Lee-Anne Pace; credit Catherine Kotze