Top South Africa export Lee-Anne Pace is targeting more LPGA Tour success in Arkansas this week, after a career-best finish in the US Women’s Open Championship on Sunday.
Riding a modest wave of confidence after finishing nine spots better than her previous best result 2011, the Investec Cup for Ladies champion had just squeezed in above the cut with rounds of 76 and 73 at Pinehurst Number Two, and shifted into high gear over the weekend to tie for 43rd.
The Pearl Valley Golf Estate player had to overcome a bogey, double bogey start in the third round, but was pleased to finish the remaining 16 holes in even par for a 73. “I played really well, but it is so tough out there to make birdies,” she said.
“I hit 14 greens in regulation in the third round, which was a nice improvement on the first two days. I just needed some more putts to drop.” Pace found the form she craved in the fourth round.
After cancelling two bogeys with a pair of birdies at the fifth and sixth, Pace reeled in three birdies at the 10th, 11th and 13th and dipped to three under with five to play.
Going for the wrong club at the par-four 14th though set in motion a string of four back-to-back bogeys, before she salvaged par at the 18th for a 71. “I was really happy with how I played the first 13 holes, but selection at the 14th broke my momentum. It was unfortunate, because it would have been nice to finish another couple of shots better.
“But overall, I was pleased with the week,” said Pace.
Pace is using a start at the $2-million Walmart NW Arkansas Championship this week as her final preparation in the United States ahead of the season’s third Major, the Ricoh Women’s British Open, next month.
“It’s really great to be playing every week. I have this week in the USA, and then two weeks on the Ladies European Tour to get ready for the British Open. Hopefully all the practicing will pay off this year.”
Pace will be teeing it up at the par-72 Pinnacle Country Club alongside fellow South Africans Ashleigh Simon, who just missed the cut at Pinehurst, and LPGA rookie, Paula Reto.
Photo 1 caption: Recording a career best at the US Open in her last outing gives top SA export Lee-Anne Pace added impetus at the US$2m Arkansas Championship this weekend. Photo: Dale Boyce
(With editing by gsport)