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