SA Open is mine, says Pace

SA’s leading female golfer sets her sights on premier tournament.

South Africa’s leading female golfer, Lee-Anne Pace, says she has overcome her “disastrous 2012” season and is ready to conquer the SA Women’s Open.

The tournament tees off at Southbroom Golf Club, KwaZulu-Natal from April 19 to 21.

The Western Cape-based player is the country’s top achiever by virtue of her name currently appearing 105th on the women’s world golf rankings, which are co-sanctioned by the Ladies European Tour.

Pace (32), who comes from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape, finished as runner-up to German Caroline Masson in the closely contested SA Women’s Open last year at Selborne Golf Club in KwaZulu-Natal.

Pace’s career was almost dented when she sustained a severe elbow injury in China in November after falling while preparing for the Sanya Ladies Open.

But she says she has recovered fully and is raring to hit her trademark long drives once more.

In a frank interview with City Press, Pace said she has overcome her previous misfortunes and is now ready to win the Open again.

“I have been working really hard on my swing for the last couple of months and it is coming together.

“I am hitting the ball pretty well again and just trying to put different pieces together to form some good rounds,” she said.

Pace pursued an exciting amateur career in the US and her golfing run received a boost this week when she was voted the Woman’s Professional Golf Association SA Player of the Year at a well-attended function in Johannesburg.

She won this for the third year running and finished seventh on the 2012 Ladies European Tour Order of Merit.

Swaziland’s Nobuhle

Dlamini was one of three recipients honoured for outstanding amateur performances at the gala.

Pace said she was looking forward to winning the Open and proving her dominance.

Commenting on her strategy to make things difficult for her rival, Masson, in this year’s competition, she made no bones about the fact that she means to cause an upset.

“It’s an altogether different course and field this year. I think my chances are quite good as I am starting to come into form after my injury,” she said.

“It also helps to have ‘homeland’ advantage, and the support of South Africans.

“All I can do is concentrate on my game, one shot at a time, and hopefully it will be good enough to lift the trophy on Sunday.”

This year’s competition on the coastal fairways will be tough, and Pace believes the inclusion of more local golfers will add punch to the showdown.

Five South African golfers have already entered the star-studded tournament.

They are Tandi Cuningham, Iliska Verwey, Monique Smit, Alana van Greuning and Nicole Becker.

Following its return to the international schedule last year, South Africa’s oldest tournament for women has raised the stakes this year with an increase in total prize money to €290?000 (about R3.5?million), a jump of €30?000.

SA golfers world rankings

Lee-Anne Pace?(103)

Ashleigh Simon?(182)

Stacy Bregman?(201)

Tandi Cuningham?(279)

Connie Chen?(353)

Morgana Robbertze?(480)

Melissa Eaton-Jackson?(542)

Laurette Maritz?(622)

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