Lee-Anne Pace Photo: Luke Walker
SUN CITY (22 March 2014) – Lee-Anne Pace justified her pre-tournament favourite status at the Investec Cup for Ladies to top the second round leaderboard at the R300,000 Sunshine Ladies Tour season-finale after a flawless performance at the Lost City Golf Course on Saturday.
South Africa’s top export opened with a disappointing 75 at the Millvale Private Retreat, but celebrated a six shot swing with a flawless two-under-par 70. Pace ripped the advantage from overnight leader Tandi von Ruben, who struggled to a 76, to pull three shots clear on one over 145.
Two-time Sunshine Ladies Tour champion, Monique Smit, improved by five shots on her opening 77 to take third on 149, while rookie Nicole Garcia carded a 75 and Francesca Cuturi returned a 76 to tie for fourth on 152. Pace finished in fourth, then third and finally second in her three starts on the Sunshine Ladies Tour. She was well aware of the expectation to perform, especially after a tie for fourth at the Ladies European Tour’s Lalla Meryam Cup in Morocco last Sunday.
“I knew coming into the tournament that I was expected to win as the highest ranked player in the field, but I didn’t feel that it put extra pressure on me,” said the former European number one. Pace had never played the Gary Player-designed course at Lost City, and was quick to credit her caddy, David Nare. “David is a regular caddie on the Sunshine Tour, but he works at Sun City when he’s not on Tour,” said Pace, who converted for birdies at the first and the sixth.
“David was invaluable, especially around the greens, and with the lines into the greens. I missed a few fairways, but not by much. I hit a number of quality iron shots, and made a bunch of par-saves. Tee to green I was solid, and I was hoping to finish in red numbers, but I’m not disappointed that I only had two birdies. I missed a few real good birdie chances, but I struggled with the pace on the greens. Hopefully I will have better touch in the final round and still get to red figures.”
The eight-time Ladies European Tour champion has proven her prowess in Europe, but she has never won on home soil as a pro. “It has been a goal to win at home since the Sunshine Ladies Tour launched, but I couldn’t play the full Tour and so it’s come down to the last event,” she said. I’m pleased that I was able to turn things around and put myself in a strong position. If I can play as I did today, I have every chance of taking the title.”
Von Ruben battled to her 76 with two birdies, three bogeys and costly seven at the par-four fifth. At the fourth, the reigning SuperSport Challenge champion hit it to a foot and tapped in for birdie, but the next hole ended in disaster. “I drove it left of the fairway in the semi-rough and went for the green with a nine-iron,” Von Ruben explained. “I was expecting it to come out with a draw, but it pushed right and finished right of the green in the long grass. The ball was unplayable and I had no green to work with. I chipped it on and three-putted.”
Von Ruben admitted that she expected to perform better following her victory at Lost City four weeks ago. “I don’t know if I rolled out the bed on the wrong side, but I just didn’t settle down all day. I felt uncomfortable out there and just couldn’t get my round going. I just need to put this round out of my head and come out shooting tomorrow. It’s going to take great golf to beat Lee-Anne, so I might have to adjust my game plan to ‘go for it’ golf.”
SECOND ROUND LEADERBOARD
145 Lee-Anne Pace 75 70
148 Tandi von Ruben 72 76
149 Monique Smit 77 72
152 Nicole Garcia 77 75, Francesca Cuturi 76 76
155 Nobuhle Dlamini SWZ 80 75
158 Lauren Blease ENG 79 79
159 Kim Williams 83 76
162 Cecilie Lundgreen 85 77 NOR, Morgana Robbertze 77 85