Pace-set­ter Lee-Anne in quest for hat-trick

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - LUN­GANI ZAMA

THREE GLEE? Lee-Anne Pace of South Africa could well set the pace at the SA Women’s Open at the tricky San Lameer course as she chases a third suc­ces­sive ti­tle. THE SA Women’s Open tees off this morn­ing, and all eyes will be on whether Lee-Anne Pace can com­plete an un­prece­dented hat-trick of na­tional vic­to­ries.

The South Coast has be­come a fa­mil­iar host for the Women’s Open and the tricky San Lameer lay­out is again ex­pected to be the scene of some drama come Satur­day, with its rash of wa­ter holes on the fin­ish­ing stretch.

One player quite fa­mil­iar with the lay­out is Melissa Ea­ton, who has had a ter­rific sum­mer swing, show­ing the form that sug­gests she could be a threat on very fa­mil­iar ter­rain.

“I’m a lot more re­laxed, I’m hit­ting the ball with more free­dom and hav­ing fun again,” she en­thused to re­porters ahead of the cham­pi­onship.

“I didn’t have the time to pre­pare for the SA Women’s Mas­ters, and I felt out of sorts all week, but still man­aged to fin­ish in­side the top 20. This week I’m look­ing for­ward to giv­ing San Lameer an­other go,” she added ex­cit­edly.

“I’ve done well here in the past and love this course. The lay­out suits my game and if the put­ter warms up, I think I can go nice and low. I’m rested and ready and rear­ing to go.”

Ea­ton’s twin sis­ter, Ni­cola (Gutzeit), will not be par­tic­i­pat­ing though, as she is still fo­cus­ing on her new fam­ily.

“Ni­cola and I have played ev­ery SA Women’s Open since the cham­pi­onship re­turned to the sched­ule five years ago, but her baby boy is keep­ing her way too busy this year,” Melissa said.

“She’ll be think­ing of me, though, and the rest of the clan will be out here shout­ing their sup­port,” she said of what will be a sus­tained home crowd in her cor­ner.

Ea­ton knows that she could have a very spe­cial week, on a patch of green that is very close to her heart. “I’ve al­ways put too much pres­sure on my­self and I’ve never put three great rounds to­gether here at San Lameer, but I’m tak­ing this new at­ti­tude out there, and who knows, any­thing is pos­si­ble.”

But she also knows there will be plenty of ex­cep­tional tal­ent on the prowl.

SA Women’s Mas­ters cham­pion Car­rie Park will be look­ing on build­ing on her third-place fin­ish last year. Ash­leigh Buhai (pre­vi­ously Si­mon) is also in good nick.

Ber­tine Strauss is also a ris­ing star to watch, but ev­ery­one on the South Coast will know very well that Lee-Ann could well set the Pace.

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