26th October 2014 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Pace on brink of LPGA breakthrough
The legendary Major winner won 15 times on the LPGA Tour between 1976 and 1988 and Pace could end a 26-year title drought if she carries a four stroke lead to a podium finish in the Blue Bay LPGA on Monday.
Coming off a sublime victory at the Cell C SA Women’s Open, the Pearl Valley golfer arrived in China on Monday and carried her hot form to a share of the 36-hole lead with American Jessica Korda.
However, torrential rain caused numerous suspensions at the Jian Lake Blue Bay Golf Course, eventually forcing officials to reduce the event to 54 holes.
After a four hour delay to the start of the final round, Pace pulled four strokes clear of US Women’s Open champion Michelle Wie through 13 holes when another storm hit, forcing officials to stop play and declare a Monday finish.
Pace qualified for all the events in the LPGA Tour’s six-tournament series in Asia, but chose to miss the third event to compete in the Cell C SA Women’s Open.
The national Open at San Lameer Country Club was also subject to a series of suspensions and reduced to 54-holes due to heavy rain.
Pace began the final round four shots off the pace, but the reigning Investec Cup for Ladies champion erased the deficit with an eagle and two birdies on the back nine to tie tournament leader Holly Clyburn at the end of regulation play.
To the delight of the home crowd, Pace defeated the English player at the second extra hole to claim her ninth Ladies European Tour title, but she barely had time to celebrate before she had to fly back to China for the Blue Bay LPGA.
Pace, who currently ranks 70th in the Race to the CME Globe, hoped to improve her position ahead of the CME Group Tour Championship in the Asian series.
However, the Cell C SA Women’s Open was too important to miss.
“It is very important to me to support the local professional circuit to help the WPGA to grow the Sunshine Ladies Tour,” said the 2015 Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies leader.
“I also really wanted to win the SA Women’s Open. It was a dream since I turned pro and now that I’ve done it, I understand why players always say that there is something indescribably special about winning your national Open.
“I’m really pleased that I took the time to go home and compete.”
PHOTO – Lee-Anne Pace; credit Justin Klusener.