SA Open cham­pion uses to fo­cus on swing, short game

Chal­leng­ing cour­ses

CityPress - - Sport - PULE MOKHINE pmokhine@city­press.co.za

South Africa’s top fe­male golf ex­port, Lee-Anne Pace, is look­ing for­ward to win­ning the US Women’s Open and se­cur­ing her first ma­jor in the US Ladies Pro­fes­sional Golf As­so­ci­a­tion (LPGA) Tour. The tour­na­ment tees off at the Lan­caster Coun­try Club in Penn­syl­va­nia from July 9-12. It is the third old­est of the five cur­rent ma­jors on the LPGA cal­en­dar. It car­ries the largest purse in women’s golf, at $4 mil­lion (R48.8 mil­lion) this year.

Pace won three tour­na­ments back to back on the Sun­shine Ladies Tour in March. They are the Su­perS­port Ladies Chal­lenge at Zwartkop Coun­try Club (Cen­tu­rion), the Ladies Tsh­wane Open (Pre­to­ria Coun­try Club) and the Investec Cup for Ladies (Sun City). Speak­ing from Tulsa in Ok­la­homa, where she is cur­rently based and pre­par­ing for her com­pe­ti­tion on this de­mand­ing tour, Pace said she was ready to sweep the Open.

Her last vic­tory on this stage was the rain-short­ened Blue Bay LPGA tour­na­ment on Hainan Is­land, China, in Oc­to­ber.

With four strokes ahead and five holes to go when play was sus­pended in the fi­nal round be­cause of dark­ness, Pace fin­ished off a five-un­der 67 for a three-stroke vic­tory over Ger­many’s Caro­line Mas­son.

“I have been work­ing hard on my swing and things are look­ing great for my golf here in the US. I’m in good shape and very de­ter­mined on the course. Win­ning my first ma­jor on a big stage such as the LPGA Tour will be great,” said Pace.

The 34-year-old from Paarl, Western Cape, who has won nine events on the Ladies Euro­pean Tour, says she does not en­ter­tain any hope of play­ing in Europe this year.

“I don’t think I will ever com­pete in Europe again, be­cause my fo­cus this year is on the US, where I would like to win. Win­ning the Open will greatly en­hance my ca­reer,” she said.

Pace said she had been work­ing ex­ten­sively on her short game, as that would be key for her dur­ing the Open.

She said cam­paign­ing in the US of­fered a huge chal­lenge, as she was able to com­pete along­side some of the best golfers in the world.

Pace said US cour­ses were chal­leng­ing as they were longer and had a higher dif­fi­culty level com­pared with the ones on the Ladies Euro­pean Tour.

“It’s re­fresh­ing to com­pete on the US LPGA Tour against the likes of Ly­dia Ko of New Zealand, who at the age of 17 is the youngest world num­ber one player,” said Pace, who is the de­fend­ing SA Women’s Open ti­tle­holder.

PHOTO: ROBERT LABERGE / GETTY IM­AGES

AM­BI­TIOUS Lee-Anne Pace (34) is de­ter­mined to win the US Women’s Open

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