SA’s wonder girl sets Pace for birdies

2010-09-12 12:13

Armed with the confidence of three victories on the ­Ladies European Tour this year, South Africa’s Lee-Anne Pace is now determined to take her game to the highest level on the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) Tour and finally reach world number one status.

Speaking after her most recent victory in the Finnair Masters, which entrenched her position at the top of the Ladies European Tour money list with earnings of over R2 million this season, Pace said she had drastically altered her perception of her place in the global game and her goals.

“I’m extremely happy about my form at the moment. At the beginning of the year one of my goals was to win a tournament and finish top 10 in ­Europe. Of course my goals have now changed drastically,” she said.

With seven tournaments left Pace heads the money list by €34?225 (about R312?960) over England’s Melissa Reid.

“My main goal is to win the Order of Merit in Europe. Then I would like to qualify for the LPGA Tour at the end of the year.

I would like to become one of the best golfers in the world and I truly believe I will be able to compete and win in the US.

But before then I would also like to win one more tournament in Europe this year,” said Pace.

“I think the setbacks that I have had in my career have taught me how to be patient and to never give up.

I lost both my cards after 2007 and had to go back to Qualifying School.

After pushing through there I went from strength to strength and finally reached the point where I am winning.

Experience teaches you how to handle pressure, how to practise and prepare better and how to switch off when you need to.”

The hard work on her game has also paid off this year, especially in her putting.

Pace’s performance this year has also raised the bar for South African women’s golf. For years the local women’s professional game relied on the successes of Sally Little and Laurette Maritz on the international stage.

Ashleigh Simon threatened to be better than all of them but has yet to fulfill her tremendous amateur potential in the paid ranks. And Pace was largely overlooked in the ­process.

But she has now clearly set a new benchmark for success.

There is a strong likelihood that a Women’s South African Open will be played at Blue Valley Golf Estate in Gauteng later this year as the local women’s circuit attempts to rebuild itself.

Pace has confirmed that she will take part in it.

“It would be great to have a Women’s SA Open again. If there is a Women’s SA Open, I will be there for sure,” she ­enthused.

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