South Africa’s top golfer, Lee-Anne Pace, came to the Investec Cup for Ladies on a determined mission and she pulled it off with a commanding victory at Lost City on Sunday.
“Four, three, two, one. Mission accomplished,” was how an elated Pace described her campaign after lifting the title of the R300,000 Sunshine Ladies Tour finale. “I came here to win after finishing fourth, third and second in my other three starts on the new Sunshine Ladies Tour, and I am so pleased with this result,” she said.
Pace hit the front with a flawless 70 in the second round and overcame a shaky start to reel in back-to-back birdies at the 17th and 18th for a one-under-par 71 and a six stroke victory on even-par 216.
Two-time Sunshine Ladies Tour winner Monique Smit also picked up two birdies on the back nine to steal into second with a 74, while Sun International Challenge champion Tandi von Ruben took third on eight-over with a 76.
Pace also bagged the winner’s cheque worth R100,000 and vaulted to the top of the Order of Merit. The 31-year-old Mossel Bay pro recently relocated to Pearl Valley Golf Estate, so the money will definitely come in handy on the home decoration front, but it was the victory that really left Pace smiling.
“I am so pleased that I could finish the mission I started at Millvale Private Retreat on Friday,” she said. “I could only compete in three events on the new Sunshine Ladies Tour, due to scheduling conflicts with the Ladies European Tour and the move to Pearl Valley.
“I finished fourth at the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am, came third at the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Glendower and second at the SuperSport Challenge.
“I jokingly said that the next one better be first, and then I really started wanting it. I wanted to win at least one event on the Sunshine Ladies Tour and for my sponsor, Investec. It’s great to show them that they backed the right player and to thank them for putting women’s golf back on the map.”
Pace didn’t get off to an ideal start and dropped shots at the first, third and sixth. “I turned it around with a birdie at the sixth and I made another birdie at the 11th, but then the run ran dry,” she said.
“I really struggled with the pace of the greens, because they were much slower than what I’m used to. I missed quite a few down the back nine, where I had the right lines, but left the putts short. I really, really wanted to finish in red numbers, but I guess par was good enough.”
With the first Major of the season just two weeks away, Pace said she loved the fact that she could stay competitive at home.
“It is absolutely fantastic that we have a Tour again and we can compete here in front of our friends, fans and family,” Pace said. “I need to do some work with the putter, but otherwise I feel absolutely ready for the Kraft Nabisco Championship in two weeks.
“It’s been fantastic to compete with my peers, as well, but I was most impressed by the amateurs we saw in action over the last few weeks. We have some incredible talent coming through the ranks, and I predict we are going to see a lot of South Africans on the Ladies European Tour in the near future.”
While Pace will take a little time off to celebrate her triumph, Smit and Von Ruben and the other Sunshine Ladies Tour regulars are travelling to Zambia for the inaugural Zambia Ladies Open Championship this week.
The first professional tournament in Zambia will commemorate the Zambia Ladies Golf Union’s 50th anniversary and will carry a purse of R750,000. The 54-hole tournament tees off on Friday at Ndola Golf Club.
Final Results from the inaugural R300,000 Investec Cup for Ladies, at the Lost City Golf Course at Sun City, on Sunday, 23 March, 2014: 216 – Lee-Anne Pace 75 70 71 223 – Monique Smit 77 72 74 224 – Tandi von Ruben 72 76 76 227 – Nicole Garcia 77 75 75 229 – Nobuhle Dlamini (SWZ) 80 75 74 232 – Francesca Cuturi 76 76 80 233 – Kim Williams 83 76 74 235 – Cecilie Lundgreen (NOR) 85 77 73 237 – Morgana Robbertze 77 85 75 238 – Lauren Blease (ENG) 79 79 80
Photo 1 Caption: Lee-Anne Pace celebrates her win of the inaugural R300,000 Sunshine Ladies Tour finale, the Investec Cup for Ladies at the Lost City in Sun City on Sunday, 23 March, 2014. Photo: Luke Walker
Photo 2 Caption: Pace timed her assault perfectly, finishing fourth at the Dimension Data Ladies Pro-Am, third at the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Glendower and before a second-place finish at the SuperSport Challenge, leading in to her maiden professional win in South Africa. Photo: Luke Walker
(With editing by gsport)