Watch this Pace for more

It’s no mean feat to win the South African Women’s Open three times in a row, and this golfer knows it

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

Lee-Anne Pace be­lieves her con­tin­ued dom­i­nance of the South African Women’s Open has earned her the en­vi­able right to be re­garded as the best player so far in the his­tory of this tour­na­ment.

This fol­lows a record she set by win­ning the Open – which is part of the Ladies Euro­pean Tour – for the third suc­ces­sive year last Satur­day, thus march­ing to a his­toric hat-trick of the event. Pace put up a class act be­fore post­ing a seven-stroke vic­tory over fel­low South African Ash­leigh Buhai on eight-un­der-par 208 in the fi­nal round at San Lameer Coun­try Club on the tough KwaZulu-Natal South Coast lay­out.

In cap­tur­ing the tro­phy, the 35year-old Paarl, Western Cape-born Pace, who cam­paigns on the Ladies Euro­pean Tour (LET) and the Ladies Pro­fes­sional Golf As­so­ci­a­tion (LPGA), en­graved her name in the South African golf­ing an­nals as the first player to cel­e­brate three suc­ces­sive wins in the na­tional cham­pi­onship. Be­fore last week­end, she had cap­tured the Open in 2014 and 2015 (see graphic). This com­pe­ti­tion was not staged last year due to sched­ul­ing has­sles.

Pace even out­classed com­pa­triot Mandy Adam­son, who has also lifted the tro­phy three times but not in suc­ces­sion. Pace told City Press this week that win­ning the title three years in a row placed her in a class of her own.

“Mis­sion ac­com­plished. I’m not shy to say that I’m the best golfer in the his­tory of the SA Women’s Open by win­ning three years in a row,” said Pace.

“As my name sug­gests, I have set the pace in lo­cal women’s golf and would like to keep it that way by win­ning event after event.”

Pace said she was look­ing for­ward to de­fend­ing her ti­tles at the Cape Town Ladies Open at Royal Cape Golf Club start­ing from Tues­day; and Di­men­sion Data Ladies Chal­lenge at Fan­court, tee­ing off from Fe­bru­ary 21.

“I look for­ward to com­ing home, not only to play here in front of my fam­ily and fans, but to mo­ti­vate all the young am­a­teurs that look up to me for in­spi­ra­tion on the Sun­shine Ladies Tour.”

Nine-time win­ner on the LET, Pace’s last big scalp out­side her coun­try was the Sanya Ladies Open at Ya­long Bay Golf Club in China in 2013 where she won in the play-off.

She said she was hop­ing to take part in the Honda LPGA Thai­land in Chon­buri, Thai­land, from Fe­bru­ary 23 to 26.

“I will fly straight from Ge­orge to Asia to play the LPGA Tour in Thai­land and then I’ll be com­ing back to de­fend my Chase to the In­vestec Cup for Ladies title at the fi­nal be­fore I fly to the United States for the rest of the LPGA Tour sea­son.”

Pace ended the 2016 LPGA Tour cal­en­der with a ca­reer-high 35th place rank­ing on the LPGA Tour Money List and she is look­ing to im­prove on that stand­ing this year.

“I had top 20 fin­ishes in two Ma­jors – the ANA In­spi­ra­tion and the Ri­coh Women’s Bri­tish Open – so I will be look­ing to im­prove in all the Ma­jors this year and I would re­ally like to add to my tro­phy cab­i­net as well. I’m in a great po­si­tion now that I can choose the tour­na­ments I want to play. I can plan my sched­ule around the courses that suit my game, where I feel I can score well and pre­pare prop­erly for the Ma­jors.”

I’m not shy to say that I’m the best golfer in the his­tory of the SA Women’s Open LEE-ANNE PACE

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