29th November 2015 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Pace, Williams a happy duo at San Lameer
She held the outright lead for two holes, but Kim Williams was still quite happy to settle for a share of the top spot with defending champion Lee-Anne Pace on the opening day of the SA Womenâ€™s Open at San Lameer Country Club.
The pair tied at one under 71 and Williams was smiling broadly as she posed for post-round photos with the tournament favourite.
â€œI had a nice little run out there, but I let it slip at the last two holes,â€ the 29-year-old Sunshine Ladies Tour champion said.
â€œI havenâ€™t played a competitive round since the Investec Cup for Ladies in March, so I just tried to make a solid start. This result was completely unexpected and more than I hoped for.â€
Despite a strong, swirling wind coursing over the stunning Hibiscus Coast layout, Pace and Williams played outstanding golf in the testing conditions.
No-one revelled in the challenge more readily than Pace, who got off to a flying start with back-to-back birdies and turned three under after another gain at nine.
â€œUnfortunately I misjudged the wind at 10, though, and hit it in the water,â€ said Pace.
â€œAt 11, I hit a low five-iron, but it finished short of the green and I couldnâ€™t up-and-down for par. I hit a poor shot into the green at 14 and dropped another shot.
â€œThe holes into the wind on the back nine are really tough and I didnâ€™t allow enough for the wind. I hit a great gap-wedge into 17 and birdied the par-five and finished with a solid par at 18.
â€œIâ€™m actually really happy with this start and Iâ€™m looking forward to the next two days. Itâ€™s going to be fun to go head-to-head with Kimmie tomorrow.â€
Williams overcame a nervous bogey start and a soft drop at five with five birdies in eight holes and overhauled Pace at 15.
â€œI birdied six and hit a wedge to three feet at eight and made the birdie to get back to level,â€ the GFG Academy member said.
â€œAt 10, I hit a good tee shot into the wind and gap wedge to 12 feet and holed the putt to go into red figures for the first time. Then I holed a long downhill putt 11 for birdie to really get some momentum going.â€
She bookended birdies at 14 and 16 with a bogey at 15 and sacrificed another shot at 17 after duffing a chip. Playing the final hole with a one shot lead, she hit a solid drive, but her approach drowned in the water guarding the island green.
â€œI knew I was in trouble when I hit the shot, because I didnâ€™t commit,â€ she said.
â€œThatâ€™s golf for you â€“ it gives and it takes away. I felt great walking off the course with a sub-par round, though, and playing with Lee-Anne is always a treat. She is great fun and she always forces you to lift your game, so Iâ€™m looking forward to the tussle on Monday.â€
English golfer Anna Scott finished four off the pace, while Sunshine Ladies Tour winners Monique Smit and Nicole Garcia tied for fourth on 77.
Amateurs Lejan Lewthwaite and 14-year-old Woo-Ju Son returned 78s join reigning Sanlam SA Womenâ€™s Amateur champion Carrie Park from Korea in sixth place.
Photo : Kim Williams; credit Ian Taylor