Pace puts pressure on the field as she leads by five

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  • Post published:January 28, 2017

Lee-Anne Pace is closing in on a historic three-peat in the SA Women’s Open after she left the field behind in Friday’s second round at San Lameer Country Club.

The Paarl golfer carded a two-under-par 70 in windy conditions to move to eight under, five shots clear of Stacy Bregman and she leads England’s Kiran Matharu by six strokes.

With the win, she will take her Sunshine Ladies Tour tally to 10, collect the lion share of the R250 000 purse sponsored by the Ray Nkonyeni Municipality and gain valuable points in the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies.

But Pace’s deep desire to make South African golfing history as the first three-time champion of the national championship was evident when she walked off the course wearing an enormous smile. ‘You never know what could happen on the final day,’ said Pace.

‘After struggling in the SA Women’s Masters, I changed putters and got my head into the game. I knew I needed a fast start and I got that done in the first round. Today, I wanted to put some space between myself and the pack before the final round and I’ve done it. Taking a big lead in to the last 18 takes away some of the pressure.’

The three-time Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies champion opened with a blistering 66 and slept on a two-shot overnight lead, but the field woke up to a northerly wind gusting at 35 km per hour.

‘Patience was the biggest weapon out there, especially with some really tough pin positions,’ said Pace. ‘I birdied four, but missed the fairway at five and gave the shot back. Then I made back-to-back birdies at eight and nine and had a run of straight pars to finish eight under.’

The lead sends a clear message to her closest pursuers.

Bregman on three under, England’s Matharu a further shot back and Ashleigh Buhai on one under will have to dig deep and go low if there is any chance to stop Pace.

‘Stacy made a big move with three birdies in a row from eight and Kiran was playing nicely, too, so anything is possible,’ Pace said. ‘I never count my chickens, but I have some breathing room and all I want to do now is to make that record mine. It will be nice if they do take a run at me, because it pushes me and it will be fun for the crowds.’

Meanwhile 15-year-old Woo Ju Son is wowing professionals, amateurs and spectators alike.

The pint-sized Gauteng golfer tied Monique Smit and Francesca Cuturi for seventh on three over after posting rounds of 74 and 73.

In January, the country’s top ranked junior clinched back-to-back victories in windy conditions in Boland and Western Province and Son showed her prowess when she rallied from a bogey at four and double-bogey at five with a pair of birdies around the turn and parred her way home.

‘My putter was so cold over the first six holes, but I just stayed patient,’ said Son.

‘I nearly holed out at the ninth for an ace and almost made eagle at the second but the putt stopped on the edge. I had no idea where I was in the field and it was a shock to see I was top 10. I think it’s going to be great to play with Monique and Francesca in the final round. Every time you play with the pros, you learn and there is always something to take back home.’

Son went straight to the putting green after play, but put the short stick away when challenged to a game of table tennis by Sweden’s Sofia Ljungqvist and Alexandra Lennartsson.

‘It’s nice to just switch off and do something else, and anyway, it always fun when you beat the pros,’ said a beaming Son after she and 13-year-old Caitlyn Macnab beat the six-foot-something Swedish duo.

Picture of Pace courtesy of Justin Klusener

Second round scores
All players RSA unless otherwise specified and amateurs indicated as (AMA):
136 – Lee-Anne Pace 66 70
141 – Stacy Bregman 69 72
142 – Kiran Matharu (ENG) 70 72
143 – Ashleigh Buhai 73 70
144 – Rebecca Hudson (ENG) 71 73, Lejan Lewthwaite 71 73
147 – Woo-Ju Son AMA 74 73, Francesca Cuturi 73 74, Monique Smit 68 79
148 – Michelle Leigh 76 72, Sofia Ljungqvist (SWE) 74 74
149 – Ivanna Samu 75 74
150 – Nicole Garcia 77 73, Carrie Park (KOR) 72 78
151 – Bertine Strauss 79 72, Alana van Greuning 79 72, Symone Henriques AMA 77 74, Kim Williams 76 75, Mae Cornforth 74 77
152 – Hannah Arnold (USA) 78 74, Nobuhle Dlamini (SWZ) 75 77, Zethu Myeki AMA 74 78
153 – Casandra Hall AMA 75 78
154 – Tandi von Ruben 79 75, Monja Richards 76 78, Laura Sedda (ITA) 83 71
155 – Alexandra Lennartsson (SWE) 79 76, Larissa Du Preez AMA 78 77, Tijana Kraljevic 79 76, Kaleigh Telfer AMA 79 76, Frankie Bosman AMA 75 80, Catherine Lau AMA 81 74, Louise Larsson (SWE) 73 82
156 – Brittney-Fay Berger AMA 77 79
157 – Chiara Contomathios AMA 78 79, Lynette Fourie AMA 76 81, Melissa Eaton 75 82, Hanna Roos (SWE) 82 75
158 – Kajal Mistry AMA 79 79, Lindi Coetzee AMA 76 82, Flavia Namakula (UGA) 80 78, Maria Roos (SWE) 81 77, Anne-Lise Caudal (FRA) 83 75
159 – Anna Sventrup (SWE) 80 79, Morgana Robbertze 81 78
160 – Bonita Bredenhann (NAM) 79 81, Chevonne Botha 82 78, Mandy Adamson 82 78
161 – Michelle de Vries 80 81, Siviwe Duma 82 79
162 – Leslie Grandet (MAD) 81 81, Caitlyn Macnab AMA 84 78
163 – Danielle du Toit AMA 76 87
164 – Nina Grey AMA 80 84, Marguerite Pienaar 81 83
166 – Yolanda Duma 83 83
168 – Ethel Ruthenberg AMA 84 84
172 – Clara Pietri (SUI) 86 86
174 – Shawnelle de Lange AMA 87 87, Laura Welch (CAN) 90 84
175 – Wilna Bredenhann AMA (NAM) 90 85