21st February 2016 | Sunshine Ladies Tour
Superior Pace makes it nine in a row in George
Lee-Anne Pace kept one eye on the course clock as she boxed a par putt at the 18th of the Outeniqua course to snatch her ninth consecutive home victory in the Sunshine Ladies Tour Dimension Data Ladies Challenge at Fancourt on Sunday.
She signed off with a two under 70 to close out a three stroke victory on 11-under-par 205 over 2014 champion Monique Smit, who fired a flawless 67.
â€œEvery single victory is special to me, whether itâ€™s on the LPGA Tour, the Ladies European Tour or right here on home soil, but winning the Dimension Data Ladies Challenge has been a huge goal, because I grew up here in the Southern Cape,â€ gushed Pace.
â€œThis one is especially sweet because my dad, my family and my friends were here to support me.â€
Before she hit her first tee shot, Pace knew she had to catch a flight out of George at 14h10 to make her connecting flight in Johannesburg to Thailand, but the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies leader was prepared to take the risk to tee it up in theÂ R350Â 000 Dimension Data Ladies Challenge.
â€œI am playing the Honda LPGA Thailand next week and then HSBC Womenâ€™s Champions in Singapore before I come back for the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies final,â€ Pace said.
â€œI knew that time would be a factor, because you never know what the weather might do and there could be a play-off, but it was worth the gamble.
â€œIt is really important to me to try and support as many events as I can on our Tour, because our participation is critical to growing the Tour for the younger players coming through the ranks. And everyone knows I really want to win every event on the Sunshine Ladies Tour at least once, so this is another huge box ticked.â€
Pace started the final round with a three stroke edge on Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies – Houghton winner Rebecca Hudson from England, but it was an unexpected charge from Smit that nearly caught her off-guard.
While Pace cruised through the front nine in straight pars, the Southern Cape player racked in a hat-trick of birdies at 10, 11 and 12 to race to seven under.
â€œI birdied 10 and 12 to get to 11 under, but I wasnâ€™t paying much attention to the leaderboard because I was watching the clock,â€ Pace said.
â€œSuddenly I saw Monique was seven under and I nearly hit it in water at 15. When she birdied 17 and I dropped 16, the difference was just two shots and all I told myself was that Iâ€™d better not drop the last two holes, because I didnâ€™t have time for a play-off.â€
The 35-year-old widened the gap with her third birdie at the par five 17th and â€“ after Smit made four at 18 â€“ Pace just needed to make her text-book par at 18 to wrap up the victory.
â€œI really enjoyed the competitive spirit on the Sunshine Ladies Tour this season,â€ Pace said.
â€œThe standard is much higher than in previous years, the victories are much tighter and the players are going so much deeper this season. I really enjoyed playing three courses this year, because it added to the pressure and the huge prize money increase was a huge motivation for everyone to bring their A-games to George.â€
PHOTO – Dimension Data Ladies Challenge champion Lee-Anne Pace with Graham Parker from Britehouse, a division of Dimension Data; credit Sunshine Ladies Tour.
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