In-Form Pace Runner-Up at Slovak Open

by | Jun 24, 2013

South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace is putting her good form to positive effect, topping her recent Turkish Open win with her second-place finish at the Slovak Open on Sunday. Photo: LET

Former European number one Gwladys Nocera from France denied South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace a second title this season when she stormed to a four-shot victory in the Allianz Ladies Slovak Open, presented by Respect on Sunday.

The Frenchwoman broke a five-year title drought since her last triumph at the 2008 Madrid Ladies Masters, with a final round two-under-par 70 to clinch her 11th Ladies European Tour (LET) title on a winning score of nine-under-par 279.

Pace, a six-time LET winner and former number one, started the final round just two shots behind Nocera, but a double bogey penalty drop at the seventh would prove her undoing.

The French player bogeyed the second hole and Pace levelled the score with a birdie at the tough par-four sixth, however, the 32-year-old South African dropped behind again after having to take a penalty drop from a lateral water hazard at the seventh.

The resulting double bogey left her playing catch-up after Nocera moved three strokes clear with a birdie at the eighth.

The French player three-putted the ninth and Pace closed the gap to just one shot with a birdie at the 10th, but Nocera pulled two shots clear with a birdie at the 11th. On the long, downhill 14th, Nocera pulled four shots clear with a birdie after the South African bogeyed the hole.

Nocera’s putt dropped just as the bad weather caught up with the field at the Grey Bear course at the Golf Resort Tale and the pair had to wait out the lightning threat for 45 minutes before the French player could sew up her victory over the remaining four holes.

Pace picked up another birdie at the 15th, but Nocera boxed a testing seven-meter putt at the 16th while the Mossel Bay player missed her birdie chance.

“That was probably the best putt I made all week, and that made things easier for the last two holes,” Nocera said. “I knew it was going to be tricky.”

The champion sealed her victory with a chip and tap-in birdie putt at the 18th.

“I’m very, very happy and pretty emotional,” Nocera said. “It’s been a while since I lifted a trophy. It was hard again today. I don’t feel like I’m hitting the ball like I should and I don’t feel that I’m hitting the ball well enough, but I tried to stay patient and draw on my experience.”

Pace also felt that the 16th hole was the decider. “It was my last chance, realistically,” she said. “I’m disappointed, of course, but Gwladys played well, and I just didn’t play well enough.

“The putts just didn’t drop. I left a couple short, and the rain also slowed them down a little bit. I couldn’t get them into the hole. A lot of putts were on line and just short. I hit it really good, some good shots, so I’m looking forward to the rest of the year.”

South Africa’s Stacy Lee Bregman carded rounds of 71-74-76-71 to tie for 22nd on four over, while compatriot Connie Chen added a 74 to earlier rounds of 70-76-76 to claim a share of 38th on eight-over-par 296.

The next LET event is the Open de España Femenino “Madrid 2020”, taking place at Club de Campo Villa de Madrid, on July 18-21.


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